Thursday, April 25, 2013

Out of My Zone

Yep, I'm a day late, but that's because yesterday was kind of a weird day, and Tuesday popped up with surprise work for me to do, so I wasn't able to finish a post in advance and schedule it for you. Sorry about that.

But in a way, I'm glad, because I spent about five hours yesterday sitting in a Panera, editing and writing. I'm sprucing up something that I'd discovered was a good four-fifths done so I can submit it, and I got about halfway through that before my brain rebelled and wanted to do something new, so I decided to try to get a jump on next week's shortfic for my project with Lynn.

Just a refresher, in case you (like me) read about a zillion blogs and have trouble keeping everyone's projects straight -- Lynn and I are each writing a short prompt-style fic a week, and have been since January. (We've each missed a week or two, and mine are sometimes late, but we've both been remarkably good about getting them done.) The plan was to write a bunch of them, then weed out the crappy ones and bundle the rest of them together and offer it all up as an anthology, possibly to JMS Books, because we didn't want to limit ourselves to a particular sexuality.

That's the plan.

About a month ago, Lynn noticed that we were both -- independently, simultaneously, and without discussing it -- writing a fairly wide margin of stories that stretched the boundaries of the norm. In more than one way. We were bringing in kinks that we don't usually write about, things that are definitely not for everyone (even a few things that aren't really for ourselves). We were playing with writing constructions (one story I wrote leaves the reader completely in the dark as to either character's gender, for instance). We were not necessarily standing on happy endings. And we were introducing characters who didn't fit the usual molds.

So yesterday, tired of editing and wanting to write something new, I thought: what haven't I written before, that might be fun?

You know what I've never written before?

A transgendered character.

But you know what I have done? Gotten so deep into the head of a male RPG character that my face started to itch from his imagined beard.

So I took a deep breath and I dove in.

It's a little terrifying, the "what if I got it wrong?" thought -- but it's also a bit exhilarating, stepping out of my comfort zone like that.
Zach met me at the airport. I texted as soon as we touched down: Landed now. Come get me? and the answer had shivered onto the screen nearly immediately: Already at bags run run run XOXOX.

He folded me in his arms and we kissed like starving lovers, and if there's an argument to be made against my starting the medicals, it's that no one gave us ugly looks as we reunited, just a short, skinny guy kissing a shorter girl with close-cropped, slightly butch hair. Thank God for unisex styles and the ubiquity of jeans and t-shirts.

"Missed you, babe," Zach whispered, pulling me tight into a full-body hugs, and if there's an argument to be made for starting the medicals, it's that I wished to God I could push my cock against his thigh the way he was doing to me. I ground against him anyway and grabbed a handful of his hair to drag his head down so I could growl into his ear, "I cannot wait to get you home and fuck you senseless."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sex Ed

I have a confession to make. As a writer and editor of erotica, it's a little shocking, but we're all friends here, right? I trust you guys not to get all judgmental on me.

When it comes to actual sexual experience, I'm... pretty vanilla.

I know! I know! Shocking. But true. I mean, the definition of "vanilla" varies some depending on who you ask, but my experiences, so far, are not likely to raise any but the most sexually repressed eyebrows. An alternate position or two, but nothing exotic. A few playful smacks on the bottom. Really, vanilla stuff. Okay, there was one attempt at D/s roleplay (as opposed to D&D roleplay, with which I'm quite experienced), way back in college, but that ended sort of disastrously.

Which is not to say that it hasn't been good, mind you. Just not terribly adventurous. Which seems pretty odd for someone who reads and edits and writes erotic fiction, especially when a lot of it is pretty far from what anyone might call vanilla.

Lewis Hine, Boy studying, ca. 1924
But in order to envision situations and (more or less) accurately describe the physical and emotional feelings and reactions of characters in those situations, I have to rely pretty heavily on research. Yes, sometimes "research" is just a way to deduct naughty books from my taxes. But a lot of the time, it's more serious than that. This article, for example, from sex educator Emily Nagoski, is fascinating and well-written, but it's pretty far from being a steamy read.

Recently, while talking about sex with my boyfriend, a topic was raised that was going to require some research. I thought I'd encountered it in passing somewhere before, though, so I promised that I would see if I could find that article and send it along. Which I did, even though the article I was remembering was at least five years old, because I have mighty Web-Fu. But looking for it took me to several favorite sex research sites, both old and new, and I've gotten sucked into re-reading a lot of them, because in addition to being interesting and informative, I find them just plain entertaining.

So let me share two of my very favorite sites. Which can then, if you get as hooked on reading sex research and advice as I do, serve as jumping-off points for more.

My favorite, for entertainment purposes, would be the archives of the (sadly finished) Alt.Sex.Column by the hilarious and sometimes irascible Andrea Nemerson. A.S.C. was sort of like Dear Abby, only about sex, hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle. Someone (possibly Lynn) linked to one of her articles one day, years before I was first published, and I was hooked. I read my way through her entire archive, and subscribed to the column for the remainder of its duration.

This is the column that convinced me that there was nothing morally shady about being kinky (up to that point, it had been one of those things I knew with my head but not really embraced in my heart), and also taught me that my particular kinks at the time were not a headlong dive into perversion -- they barely qualified as wading, honestly. It also answered some very serious questions that I had been afraid to talk to anyone else about but which were hurting my self-esteem. The column ended in early 2009, alas, but the nearly 10 years' worth of archives are still there, and if some of the advice is a bit dated for being nearly 15 years old, plenty of it still rings true.
...It doesn't matter "why" you want to do this. You want to, that's all. Too bad you're not going to get to.

What? How do I know? Because, silly rabbit, you have asked (and more than thrice, I suspect) and she just laughed. If she were interested and had been waiting for you to bring it up, she would have laughed, yes, but then she'd have gone on: "We should ask them! (giggle) I mean just for a joke! And see what they say, you know, just for laughs...(giggle)." She totally would have. She didn't. And now you have to drop it. You get three tries with anything like this (with certain exceptions). After that it turns into pestering or, depending on the dynamic in a given household (no aspersions cast) bullying. There are, of course, exceptions. It is acceptable, for instance, to mention more than three times that you think your partner ought to be getting more of the oral sex.
There's also, as already linked above, the endlessly fascinating Emily Nagoski at TheDirtyNormal.Com. In addition to this blogging thing (which is still ongoing and being updated regularly), she teaches college and has published several books. This is not an advice column per se, but a collection of her musings and observations, analyses of books (good and bad), and even occasional toy reviews. Her approach is far more intellectual than Andrea's, and also much more scientific. This makes it occasionally hard to wade through, especially if I'm reading a new post before I've had my coffee and I'm not ready to process fifty-cent words yet, but I still find it endlessly fascinating, and full of good, no-nonsense plain talk. More than once, reading Emily, I have thought (and even said aloud), "Yes! That's exactly it!" and been relieved and astounded that there were actually words that could so clearly explain a situation that had confounded me for years. If nothing else, you should check out her "best of" collection.
You know what no man has ever asked me?

No man has EVER asked me how to be better at penile-vaginal intercourse.

People do ask me all the time how to make sure a woman has an orgasm during intercourse, and I talk about positions and vibrators and maybe not sweating lack of orgasm with intercourse. Fine. Nice. Good. But a woman’s orgasm with intercourse is really more about her plumbing than it is about his technique.

Why, my dears, does no one ask how to be superb at intercourse in and of itself, without worrying about orgasm? Guys, all of you out there with penises who like putting those penises in a vagina: don’t you want her to adore having you inside her? Don’t you want her to miss you when you’re not there? Don’t you want her to be just a little bit addicted to your dick? Don’t you?

Maybe you don’t realize that it’s possible to be better or worse at it.
The only problem is that, having recently read (or re-read) a bunch of articles on these sites, I find myself getting hooked again... and getting hooked on reading about sex -- even from a relatively dry and intellectual position -- makes me want to talk about it more.

With my boyfriend, yes, obviously and first, but much more than that, because I have some pretty specific motives for that talk, and I enjoy it, but what really grabs my attention about this sort of reading and talking is the anthropologist in me who wants to examine all the various ways that people fit into society, and the disconnect in the way that people think society views them versus what's really out there. I love hearing about whatever kinky games my partnered friends are up to. I love commiserating with my single friends about the trials and tribulations of dating. I like comparing notes with my girl friends, and taking notes from my guy friends. I like talking to my GLBT friends about their experiences (good and bad and not even always necessarily sexual) just for that perspective. Heck, I even love it when my daughter tells me about the "boyfriend" she had back in kindergarten. ("Did you ever kiss him?" "Ew, Mom, no! Gross!")

So if you ever really get the urge to just talk about sex -- to ask nosy questions (in fair trade, of course) or tell anecdotes that you've been dying to tell but don't have a good audience for, or you're just curious about what happened with that disastrous D/s thing I mentioned up at the top there... I'm right here, and I'm always in the mood to talk! ;-)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Unsaid (excerpt)

I was already struggling with what to talk about today (my brain is not in good working order lately) and then I came in to the Day Job to discover that my right-hand man (well, woman) isn't coming in and that, naturally, things are Quite Insanely CrazyBusy.

And what do I do when I am lacking ideas and/or time for a proper blog post? That's right! An excerpt from something I've written lately!

How about this, from the shortfic/prompt project I'm working on with Lynn, titled "Unsaid":
"We could go to the movies, if there's something on worth watching?"

The vibrator is nestled snugly against my clit, and even without turning it on, its shape and pressure taunt me. I am fidgeting; it's an effort of will not to rock my hips, not to make that nub of plastic push and stretch me out of myself. The car stops, and I allow myself one small thrust against the firm leather of the seat as you walk around to open the door for me. You come back into view and you smile at me, through the window, and one hand slips inside your coat pocket. I jump as, gentle and insistent, the vibrator comes to life. I can feel the blush climbing my cheeks as I look up at you, and your smile widens as you open the door and offer your hand. I take it: I will need your support well before we reach our seats, it seems.

"A movie could be fun, I guess. Maybe a walk in the park, after?"

The scent of fresh-cut grass mingles with that of your hair as you lean back against my chest. I push my cock against the curve of your ass and I feel, more than hear, your chuckle. You stand behind the park bench, leaning only slightly forward, your hands resting on its back as if you are posing for a portrait. From behind you, I lift your skirt and slide your panties down, and only a moment later my prick is seeking your depths. My hands cover yours as we rock together, but as the need mounts, such delicate restraint ceases to serve me. My arms wrap around you, hands closing on your breasts, and I pull you tightly back against me, tighter, tighter, tighter still, as if through sheer will I could meld us into a single being. You tip your head back, nestling it into the hollow of my shoulder, giving yourself to me entirely, your eyes closed to the expansive brilliance of the night sky.

I hope you enjoyed that! (I certainly did...) And now, I'm afraid I have to dash back to the Day Job...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I've been thinking lately about re-organizing my books. At the moment, they're still more or less in the helter-skelter ultra-random grouping that happened when we first moved in, plus or minus fourteen years worth of buying new books and taking old ones to the used bookstore (or having them swiped).

But sorting them all out into categories that make sense has become a daunting prospect. Far more complex than you might think. I started talking about this on Facebook yesterday, and then realized that there wasn't nearly enough room there to really dig into the meat of it.

I'm fine with mixing my sci-fi and fantasy with my more mainstream fiction, and with bundling the YA stuff together with the adult stuff, so that saves me from having to figure out whether -- for instance -- Coraline is primarily a youth/YA book, urban fantasy, or horror. Gaiman's books are particularly problematic like this, I might add. So it's a good idea that I've decided it's okay to muddle them all together.



What about the erotica? Most of my erotica is in ebook format these days, but I've got a good shelf's worth of books that I've picked up here and there, and none of it is stuff that I really want my (under-10) children leafing through at random. Maybe the erotica should have a separate shelf, up in my bedroom. But I have a few books that blur the line, and how do I decide when a book has crossed that line? Kushiel's Dart isn't technically erotica, but it sure would raise some awkward discussions if my daughter picked it up. And what about the non-erotic romances that trail off into vague purple prose?

Another thing:

I've got a lot of books left over from college and other textbook-like books that appeared in the wake of various moments of interest and obsession. Some of them are drily, obviously nonfiction: my math texts, for instance, or a small assortment of programming manuals. But others are somewhat less obvious. What about my Norton Anthology of English Literature? It's mostly fiction, but it's not like there's a single author, or even a single editor to file it under. I could give all the "collected works" their own section, but that's going to dump poor Norton with, mostly, a bunch of sci-fi/fantasy anthologies (and depending on what I do with the erotica, those anthologies as well). Maybe I need a separate section for classic literature?

But if I do that, I have to figure out what qualifies as "classic literature", don't I? My Complete Works of Shakespeare is a pretty solid ringer, and Dumas' Three Musketeers, sure -- but what about Tolkein? I do consider The Lord of the Rings to be classic literature, but wouldn't it be happier shelved with the, shall we say, less scholarly books?

I thought, at least there's a clear division with the graphic novels and comics collections. But... not so much, even there. I have some books about artists (e.g., Salvador Dali, M. C. Escher) that are mostly pictures of their works with short descriptions -- are those books of pictures, or textbook-type works? And it's easy to separate collections of comic strips (Dilbert, Calvin and Hobbes) from collections of comics (Iron Man, Strangers in Paradise), but which category would the Order of the Stick collections fall under?

(My librarian friends are all laughing their asses off at me right now, because I have no idea how many times I've listened to them complain about having to figure out how to classify a book for shelving.)

And none of this has anything to do with my writing or my editing or even all that much to do with romance or erotica, except that it has made me think about the vast variety of subgenres available in the erotic romance genre. Or in any genre, really. I mean, even in my own small catalog, I've got some sci-fi, some fantasy, some straight-up contemporary lit, some urban fantasy, even a hint of horror.  Is it really fair to lump all those stories together as "erotic romance" when they're likely to appeal to vastly different audiences? (Heck, they're not even all technically erotic romance. "Succubus, Inc." has not the slightest breath of romance about it, while "Doctor Tentacle and the Pheromone Incident" is all about the romantic connection but never even makes it as far as a kiss.)

Maybe I should just give up and sort everything by the primary color on the spine...