Women and Words Holiday Hootenany is going strong. Today a copy of The Fling is up for grabs with a bunch of other BSB books. Go now! Win things!
Also – On Friday Better off Red and Blacker Than Blue were put up for grabs over on Smuketeers.com. I didn’t post about it because I was pretty much in fetal position all day. I’m pretty sure they are still available to head over there for a chance to win my vamp books as well.
Let me stop with the finally. I wrote this thing over the summer and it already has a cover. That’s some DAMN FAST turn around if you ask me. Yes, At Her Feet is a BDSM erotic romance, but the cover works very well for these characters. This story is more about emotional submission… and spankings, than floggers and crops and chains. I wanted to stay away from handcuffs or crops and the like. Suzy and Pilar are both pretty femme and Suzy, like myself, loves pink. EVERYTHING’S PINK! My publisher was nice enough to listen to all of my pink related begging. :) I’ll report back as soon as they have a release date. Here are my leading ladies if you need a reminder.
Lots of news! Events! Awards! News! News! News!
I’ll go with the part where you can win free stuff. Though, it’s all pretty good.
Starting today (DECEMBER 5th) the awesome ladies over at Smuketeers are kicking off their 12 Days of Xmas Holiday Extravaganza.
Head on over to check out holiday fun with 64 amazing romance authors, myself included. We’re giving away books, too. I’ll be tweeting when my day is up, but go over there now. NOW!
Starting Wednesday, December 12, 2012, Women and Words will be kicking off their 2012 Holiday Hootenanny. Everyday readers can enter to win a book from a list of great LGBT romance authors. I’ll be featuredd on Day 5, giving away a copy of The Fling.
On Thursday, January 10, 2013 I’ll be participating in Book’d in Burbank, a literary social event. I‘ll be reading from Better Off Red. If that doesn’t bring you running, there will a comedy MC, drinks and desserts. The drinks and desserts are what got me on board. Check out more here, courtesy of Liz D.
And lastly, the news that has me super pumped.
Elisa Reviews announced the winners of the Rainbow Awards over the weekend and TWO of my books won awards.
1st Place: BEST DEBUT LESBIAN NOVEL/BOOK – Better Off Red
2nd Place: BEST LESBIAN EROTIC ROMANCE – The Fling
2nd Place (tie): BEST LESBIAN PARANORMAL/HORROR- Better Off Red
This is amazing because so many fantastic books were nominated, books I absolutely loved. I inhaled Meghan O’Brien‘s The Night Off and Awake Unto Me by Kathleen Knowles. I almost cried during Robin Silverman’s reading of Lemon Reef. To be included is such an honor.
I’m particularly excited about Better Off Red‘s win for debut novel. An author can only win that type of award once in their career and to win it for a book and characters that are so close to my heart is both humbling and encouraging.
For the complete list of winners and honorable mention recommendations check out click HERE.
I’ll post again soon. There is cover art for At Her Feet in the works… ?
You’d think I’d forgotten all about this blog. Ha. I didn’t. I’ve just been busy. I’ll skip the details and jump right to the news.
Blacker Than Blue is days away from going to press. I had a hell of time editing it and I have to say I think I could write at least four stories for Benny and Cleo. I love them as a couple. In January, right before its release, I’ll be doing a book/t-shirt giveaway, so keep your eyes peeled if you like winning stuff.
Once that was done and off to the magical land of paperbacks and ebooks, I finished my first/final round of revisions of At Her Feet. If you’ve been following my blog, you might be asking what At Her Feet is. Well, my publisher was happy to buy Suzy & Pilar off my hands, but after batting some ideas around, we went with a title change. At Her Feet should be out some time near fall 2013. I think. I’ll report back when I know for sure.
And that’s it, really. I’m working on some non-romance related things. I might take a class. You’re never too old to further your education. When I get back to the romancing, I have two hetero romances I want to write and then there’s the next Vampire Sorority Sister novel to research, write and then beg my publisher to buy. I’ll report back when I have concrete plans. In the meantime, Happy NaNoWriMo for everyone participating. I’ll leave you with Melanie Fiona’s Stop My Heart. I heard it in Crate&Barrel; last week and now I’m obsessed with her. ?
I love having guests especially when it means I don’t have to vaccuum or do the dishes. Ruth Diaz is stopping by today to talk about sex and her new novella The Superheroes Union: Dynama. EVERYONE BE NICE!
The Elephant in the Room: Sex in Writing and Cultural Baggage
I’ll never forget telling my mother that I had decided to write romance, or possibly just erotic fiction. She didn’t say anything supportive about it, though she was supportive of the attempt. Instead, she made a request. She asked me to write under a pseudonym. This isn’t as harsh as it may sound. For one thing, erotic romances and other erotic fiction are often written under a pseudonym. I had already decided to use a different name for this type of writing. For another thing, well, my mother was born in the middle of the last century in the middle of the Midwest in the middle of nowhere. There were only five students in her graduating class. She did not have what you’d think of as a cosmopolitan upbringing, and even if her attitudes toward sex don’t much reflect that anymore, her brothers and sisters and parents send nieces and nephews have all grown from the same roots.
Sex is one of those subjects you don’t discuss between generations, let alone in a coed environment. Probably not even in an all-female environment, not without blushing and speaking from behind a concealing a hand, or perhaps in the context of humor. It wasn’t that she wanted to restrict what I might write. But she never wanted to be in the position of having to explain it to our extended family.
Sex is a part of life. Most of us admit it, even in my small-town, Midwestern, extended family. As a matter of fact, we’re bombarded by sexual imagery in media and advertising on a day-to-day basis. We don’t necessarily discuss that with other people, but most of us don’t deny it. On good days, we aren’t even embarrassed by it unless someone actually implies we’re having sex. (Even if we are.)
I am sex-positive. I respect and understand the choices of people prefer not to consider themselves that way. But I, personally, am sex-positive. Writing sex scenes does not automatically reflect sex-positivity, though, any more than admitting that sex is perfectly natural means my relatives are comfortable discussing it. One of the challenges I faced in writing The Superheroes Union: Dynama was writing from a sex-positive point of view while staying true to my heroines…neither of whom considers herself sex-positive.
In the end, I decided the most sex-positive thing I could do for the story was address sex as realistically as possible, despite some of the underlying wish-fulfillment that makes romance what it is. My heroines talked to each other about safer sex–maybe later than they should have! They didn’t use sex toys, not because they had any reason not to, but because Dynama’s twins found the one in her underwear drawer when they were four, with predictably bad results, and she decided to do without until they were old enough to understand privacy.
Both my heroines see their bodies as flawed, because body image in Western culture tends to be so artificial right now, very few women measure up to their own expectations. But they see each other as beautiful, each taking joy in the other’s body, even if neither is sure she takes joy in her own. Dynama’s superhero costume covers her from neck to ankles, and the only character who runs around with a superhero emblem on her boobs is the Invincible Woman, who deliberately put it there as a target.
In the end, I didn’t break any new ground for portrayals of sex in fiction in The Superheroes Union: Dynama, and my relatives still mostly don’t ask about that romance they knew I was writing. But I’ve refused to pretend there’s no sex in it; and I’ve managed to give both my heroines full ownership of their bodies, their sexual preferences, and their sex lives.
In a dreadful social moment in the US where everything from men’s hair product commercials to the Republican Party’s 2012 platform is trying to take women’s sexuality and place it firmly in the hands of men, that may just be the most sex-positive thing I could do.
How do you feel about sex in romance, and does that have any relationship to how you feel about sex in the rest of your life? And seriously, has any woman seen that Axe commercial with the dismembered boobs and disembodied hair and not wanted to throw something at her television? Visit my blog for the swag giveaway! Comment to win a Superheroes Union totebag or T-shirt.
First let me say, I’m having trouble picking a Tokyo/Miyoko for my Vampire Sorority Series. Check out this post here if you want to give me your two pennies worth of opinion. I need feedback people.
Updates!!!! Here’s where I’ve been. Here’s what I’ve been doing.
- The Advocate Magazine asked lil old me to contribute to this month’s I Advocate section. Seeing myself in a magazine period is amazing. Being featured in The Advocate is just mind blowing. Pick up a copy on newsstands now. :)
- I was also featured over at Romance Cooks, sharing a recipe that always makes me think of my vampire queen Camila from Better Off Red. Check it out. Make some cookies.
- I’m taking FOREVER to edit Suzy & Pilar. I’m not under a deadline with it so I’m taking my sweet ass time. Eeeep.
- Next week (July 25, and 26) I’ll be loitering at the annual RWA conference in Anaheim. If you’re there and you see me, say hi. I’m wicked nice. Really.
- I also realized that I missed the two year mark for this blog. Ooops. I’ll do a big TWO YEAR post soon. Feel free to listen to my new favorite song while you wait.
|even in small town New Hampshire, look at this diversity.|
So I went home for a wedding. A good friend of mine from elementary school married a great guy. They served bottomless lemonade mojitos. Really, it was great. I got to see my parents. I met a friend’s newborn and was over the moon that the kid isn’t ugly. I slept like the dead in my high school bed. Our local bookstore, Water Street Bookstore had me down to sign copies of The Fling.
My mom bought me three books because she’s awesome. My dad and I hung out and watched Jerry Springer. I ate a lot of food and didn’t gain a pound. I went out drinking with my great guy friends. I found myself on the beach THREE TIMES! I came up with a wellness plan with my best friend. She also helped me brainstorm character and plot points for my next book because she too is awesome. I went for walks and spent time with my neighbors who treat me like one of their own.
Here’s what I didn’t do – I didn’t write. I didn’t write a good goddamn thing. I’ll be honest and say I left my laptop at my apartment. One less thing to deal with while going through security. I thought about writing on my phone while I was sitting on my parents’ couch, but when Springer’s on and you’ve got a good book in your lap, it’s just asking a whole lot to dig back into your own story. That required brain cells I wasn’t willing to give up. When I got back to L.A. it took me DAYS to find my stride again. Finally, last Friday I was able to get myself back together. I’ve since squeezed out 10,000 words on Suzy & Pilar. The last scene I worked on was a tough one, but I finished it and pushed on to a great sex scene that flowed rather smoothly. Now I think I’m in the homestretch. I might even finish it this weekend. Maybe.
In other news, with the end of season two of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I sat down and watched every episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender. And then The Legend of Korra premiered and I feel like it’s taken up so much space in my heart. So much space. I might love her more than the ponies. If you’ve seen my tumblr, you know.
In other other new, even though I knew about it, I feel I’ve officially discovered Korean Pop music. Or K-Pop. I’m now obsessed with Girls’ Generation aka SNSD. This song will definitely be on Suzy & Pilar‘s playlist. Good times.
Okay, so the other day I said I wasn’t going to blog at length about BDSM here. JUST KIDDING!
In working on Suzy & Pilar, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want their relationship to come across to a reader who knows nothing about the kinky lifestyle. I want to tell an honest story that balances the joys of expressing ones sexuality and the challenges one might face when that sexual life clashes with your real/professional life. I’m also tackling Suzy’s struggle to balance the joys of being with Pilar and keeping her own well-being at the forefront of her priorities.
But that’s only part of the reason I’m talking about it here and yes it has to do with writing about race. In a way. See, I love to read BDSM novels. I have nearly worn the covers of my Sleeping Beauty series, but a lot of the stories I’ve read leave me scratching my head. I find characters doing things that I honestly find unsafe and a little nuts. Not in a “oh I would never let someone hang me from the rafters by my nipples” sort of way, but in a “wait don’t you worry about your actual safety, your actual mental health?” kind of way.
I’ve read about a lot of Doms, male and female, who are just assholes. Not dominant lovers, but pure assholes that use intimidation and circumstance to get their partners to submit. Most of these pairings have involved white couples. A few have involved mixed races couples, but the Dom is always white. I don’t do assholes. These issues have been rolling around in my head for some time, in fiction and in real life as I’ve heard horror stories about such Doms, but yesterday writer Mikki Kendall, who you should follow really just cause, started a discussion on women of color (WOC) and BDSM kink. (women of color includes all non-white women). The discussion does appear to be centering around WOC as submissives at this point, though there are many non-white Dommes in the community as well. In Blacker Than Blue I write a black Mistress in control of a white submissive. It’s a very loving relationship, I promise. I try not to apply my own experiences and thoughts to others. Everyone’s sex life is different, but what Mikki and the others who responded to her post, had to say really struck a cord with me. Here is Mikki’s original post and my response.
I’ve been reading all of the talk around 50 Shades of Grey, & noting how often developing a BDSM relationshionship in romantica/erotica is written as though sex comes before trust & then running into convos on & offline that center around the idea that kink is something white women do. That being sex positive is a movement that requires you to discuss your sex life with all & sundry & be white to boot or you’re a problem & not a person.
Somehow the fact that WOC not only have kinky sex, but enjoy it is a hard concept for some folks to grasp. And things get more complicated when you factor in our high rates of sexual assault, violence, & cultural norms that mean our sexuality is often something we share with partners but not with the public for our own safety. WOC can figure as props in the sexual fantasies of others, but people seem to think that we don’t deserve any agency over ourselves for our own pleasure. And that makes conversations about sex in general & kink in specific really hard to have, especially when it comes to kink, how WOC may choose to engage in it & whether or not we utilize the same spaces for connections as white people.
Our voices are erased from so many media outlets (see the casual moments of racism in 50 Shades of Grey and how little has been said about that), and what we speak of when we do speak to each other is often not for public consumption. But not talking to or for outsiders isn’t the same as not talking at all.
So, let’s talk about what it means to stand at the corner of Madonna/Whore as Mammy/Jezebel & how that impacts our expressions of our sexuality. Let’s talk about why sites like Fetlife being underpopulated with WOC doesn’t mean WOC aren’t interested in kink. And let’s talk about what a cultural history of being unrapeable legally might do to the idea of sexual freedom. If we’re seen as whores from birth regardless, what do we do to own our sexuality? How do we navigate kink in our minds & with our bodies? How do we find partners & what do we disclose & when? For those of us in kinky relationships, what does it mean to play? Do we attend munches/classes/parties? Are those environments safe for us? And what about things like race play, how do we reconcile ourselves to that if it is or isn’t part of our kink?
ive given this issue a lot of thought recently. my kink life started with a connection with one person, not through a munch, or a play party, or an online link up on a kink website. ive since attended play parties and munches and joined kink websites and i have to say not many of these places are spaces that make WOC feel safe and this is a problem. a KEY element of the BDSM lifestyle is trust. ive been approached by many white men because of their attraction to my picture. these are the same white men who chose to ignore that fact i am already taken. this information is right next to that picture. these are the same white men who collect black female submissives on fetlife and the same men who think that my fantasies involve being treated like the “black beast that i am”. its crazy. its backward, and for me, it’s not safe.
as i read more erotic fiction, fiction that starts with intense bondage scenes after a two second conversation between strangers im left thinking, who the hell is conducting their sex life like this. i know its fantasy. i know its fiction, but what message is it sending to people outside of the lifestyle. there’s a different between getting off on pain and putting your life in danger. if you met a guy in a bar would you really just go home with him and let him tie you up? no? then would you do it just because he says he’s a Dom? or because he’s rich? or because he seems to know what’s best for you? that’s crazy. that’s not BDSM. that’s abuse.
here’s the thing about submission, if im going to give my mind AND my body to you, i have to know that you are interested in me as a person. i have to know that you are looking for the signs that i am being pushed too far and not because you don’t want to be accused of rape or that you might literally break me. i need to know what you are respecting me, loving me and doing everything you can to help us both express our sexual needs. and you need to know that simply saying “you look so sexy dear” wont make my legs fall open.
this is nearly impossible if you make it known before i have even given you that trust that your only desire is procuring a WOC for your stock. that shit is not gonna fly. i live my life
with my safety at the forefront of my day to day. i don’t trust strangers. i face enough danger as is. do you know how afraid i am to get pulled over by LAPD? i don’t need to be bound and naked when that danger makes itself evident.
i’ve been pretty open about my kink life online, but the details aren’t for anyone but me and my partner. does that mean im not a legit member of the community? no. its just means i don’t want to talk to strangers about what exactly i do in my private time. you know why? because strangers like to take the little bits of information they do know about you, like the size of your cleavage or the color your skin, and use it to make judgements and further assumptions. they use that information to create their own fantasy with your image at the center (or most likely at the periphery) and that’s the wrong foot to start on.
so for me it’s definitely relationship first, kink second. i can put the kink on hold if my partner isn’t into it, but i can’t put my well-being on hold just to get off. i say this because there are people in the lifestyle and people interested in the lifestyle who take the approach the other way around.
There was further discussion by other readers about the politics of being a WOC and being whipped by a white Dom in public forum, being paraded around as black chattel, etc, things that would test me far beyond my mental comfort zone. I must note that I have been in interracial relationships my whole romantic life and I guess technically I’m in one now. I don’t think that all non-POC are looking to degrade WOC like it’s their job. I’m saying it the actions of few that are ruining it for many.
Obviously my life is something I take seriously, but when I write I take my characters and their experiences seriously too. If other WOC don’t approach BDSM in a way that the larger collection of BDSM fiction is portraying then there is a disconnect, one that I can’t ignore. I’m still thinking this through. I’m wondering how and if the community will evolve, but I’m sharing this as food thought, for characters, and audience, and the people around you.
I’m working on something a little different. A lot of my stories will have elements of domination and submission. Benny’s book Blacker Than Blue will center around her D/s relationship with her vampire. When I get around to writing Kina’s book she will prove to be quite the sexual Dominant in her relationships. Right now I’m working on a story that I’m calling Suzy & Pilar. I’ve picked Jamaican-Korean actress Tae Heckard for Suzy and Sara Ramirez for Pilar.
This story deals with a Mommy/little girl, D/s relationship. Since BDSM talk is not something everyone is comfortable with, I’ve written a much longer post on the story and posted it on my tumblr – rebekahloves.tumblr.com. Keep in mind that my tumblr is 18+/NSFW. Swing over there and check it out.