Reaching Out from a Mind as Dirty as All Outdoors

If you get lucky enough, I might post adult-only material from time to time, so be 18 or over, or please be elsewhere.

I'll be discussing erotica here, the writing of it and the people who write it, as well as what we've written. I find all these aspects stimulating, but if any of them bore you, feel free to skim. You never know what you might miss, though.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

XOXO: Sweet and Sexy Romance—Review and Book Giveaway

This is my day on the blog tour for Kristina Wright’s XOXO: Sweet and Sexy Romance (Cleis Press), an anthology of thirty-eight extra-short stories that pack more erotic punch for their length than you’d think was possible. If you make it all the way to the end of this post you’ll see how to enter a giveaway for a copy, and, I hope, see why you really want to win.

First I get to pontificate on short-short stories in general. Every now and then I see reviewers of anthologies complaining that the stories should have been longer. When that happens with books I’ve edited myself, like Girl Fever: 69 Tales of Sudden Sex for Lesbians, my kneejerk reaction is, “No, these stories are just the length they need to be. You might well want to spend more time with these characters, but this particular chapter of their lives (or even mini-chapter) is so skillfully drawn that you don’t even notice how much intensity is gained with just enough of the just-right words.” Rather like maple sap cooked down into syrup. Or wine distilled into brandy. Or pan-juices reduced into a demiglace. Or…never mind. I’m using too many words here, too many metaphors. Not good in writing short-short stories.

Let’s stick with just one metaphor: dissolved sugar boiled until it makes candy. Candy, specifically those tiny candy hearts with Valentine messages written on them, the ones that inspired Kristina with the theme for this book.

XOXO: Sweet and Sexy Romance offers thirty-eight stories of searing sex and passionate love in just over two hundred pages. This means each story has only about fifteen hundred words, calling for writers who can make every word count. Fortunately Kristina has assembled writers who are more than up to the challenge.

I don’t want to tell too much about individual stories, because they’re worth discovering at just the right pace to savor them, but one factor I look for as an editor myself is a beginning that grabs the reader’s interest right way. I want to share just a few that do that particularly well, even though very good short stories can start out slowly instead and draw the reader in bit by bit, and many of those in this book do that to good effect.

“Midnight” by Emerald hooks you right away with sex and a hint of mystery.

Sometimes he’s inside me. Sometimes my mouth is on his cock. Sometimes his tongue is against my clit or my nipple or whatever square inch of skin he’s found that lights up that fire that’s somehow inside me and outside me and everywhere else all at once.
It’s different each time. But whatever form it’s taking, sex is what we’re doing. The timing is the important thing.

The scene then switches to a fondue restaurant, the tone becomes playful for a while, and you’re along for an irresistible ride.

“Ouch” by Lily K. Cho starts out with a bang, or rather a playful “Thwap!”

“Ouch!” Josh roared. “Dammit, Susie, that hurt!”
He heard Susie giggle, but he didn’t see her anywhere, so he turned back to the mirror and resumed his shaving.
“Susie, stop that!” he yelled, rubbing his rear and twisting to inspect the two pink spots blooming on his ass.”

Another ride you probably can’t resist.

“Night Moves” by Christine d’Abo begins with a nightmare.

No, no, no, no, no!
I couldn’t tell you what the nightmare had been about specifically. Images of too-tall walls and frantic running through black hallways were all that lingered as I blinked madly into the dark of our bedroom. The soft whooshing of the ceiling fan and the gentle rubbing of my husband’s hand against my back did little to slow my pounding heart. My stupid brain wouldn’t shut off.
“You ‘kay, babe?”

We know just what she needs, and by this point we need it too.

And another sleep-related excerpt with a distinctive flavor, from “The War at Home” by Giselle Renarde.

Flipping onto her stomach, Brenda buries her face in the bunched-up pillow. Too soft. How can she possibly get to sleep with her head sinking into the oblivion of a dark-blue pillowcase? Her mouth and nose are buried in feathers. She turns her head to the side, but that hurts her neck, so she flips again, landing with a bounce on her backside.
The sheets that match the pillowcase have wrapped themselves around her calves, and she kicks at them, but they don’t let go. Growling, she kicks harder, but the sheets have her bound like a mermaid—just what Kaz always wanted. Thank god he’s asleep.
Lucky bastard.

Want to bet somebody gets lucky?

My own story in this book doesn’t get you into the real action as soon as it should, or let you know quickly enough that the characters are on a honeymoon vacation in Paris, but I had a great time writing it, and I feel like sharing a bit, so here goes. (Warning, if you need it—“Gargoyle Lovers” is one of five lesbian stories included in the anthology.)

“I’m siingin’ in the rain…” But that song was from the wrong Gene Kelly movie, and it wasn’t quite raining, and I was only whistling. My speaking voice gets me by, but singing blows the whole presentation.
Hall glanced down, her face stern in that exaggerated way that makes me tingle in just the right places. I shoved my hands into my pockets, skipped a step or two, and knew she felt as good as I did. Hal’s hardly the type to dance through the Paris streets like Gene Kelly, especially across square cobblestones, but there was a certain lilt to her gait.
Or maybe a swagger. 

Of course for the really good parts of all the stories, the buildups, the peaks, the emotional resolutions, you need to read each piece all the way through. Bet you can’t read just one! But, like candy, you’re best off savoring them one by one, every single word.

Onward to the book giveaway part!

Just comment here, or on the Facebook status I posted about this (, or e-mail me at, and you’ll be entered in my drawing for a copy of XOXO.  I’ll choose a winner at random on February 28th, and announce a winner by March 2. Be sure to check back here or on Facebook to make sure I can contact you if you win.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Delicious Torment, from Alison Tyler, the Mistress of Literary S/M

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,…

You’ve seen Shakespeare’s sonnet number 116. You’ve probably heard it read. In fact, I read aloud it at my brother’s wedding. But it isn’t about weddings, as such, but about two people who match each other’s needs so perfectly that nothing can destroy their love.

Alison Tyler’s The Delicious Torment, the sequel to her Dark, Secret Love, is about two people with such intense, specific, on-the-edge needs that it seems like a miracle that they found each other.

Samantha, the heroine based on Alison Tyler herself, is “ensconced in an S/M relationship that makes everything I’ve done before turn a whiter shade of pale.” Jack is older, a high-powered lawyer, whose need to dominate through “pain and shame and utter humiliation” could only be satisfied by a woman like Samantha, as strong in her way as she is submissive. Pain and humiliation are pleasure to her, even when she dreads them, and they bring her to orgasm even when they bring her to tears. Jack gives her what she needs, and she loves him without reserve, while he needs her love as much as her submission, even though he needs her to prove that love over and over.

There are plenty of S/M books out there now, but nobody does it with as much style and skill as Alison Tyler. Nobody makes it as real, as convincing, as appealing even to people whose tastes have never run that way. And the story here is more than a series of “scenes,” even though the traditional canes and belts and crops and chains play their part. The relationship has its twists and turns and unexpected deviations, especially when it comes to involve a third person. There are adjustments and alterations that might strain a love less strong. Jack’s difficulty in trusting Samantha’s love and the lengths he goes to in testing her could have destroyed the very thing he craved. But no impediment is great enough to tear these true minds (and bodies) apart.

And there’s never a dull moment. Here’s what happens after Sam counters Jack’s suspicious surveillance with tricks of her own, then waits at home for him:

I was on the bed, naked, and I’d cuffed my ankles and tossed the keys to the corner of the room, clicked the cuffs onto my wrists, and hung the chain from the hook on the wall. I was as exposed as I could possibly be. And deeply grateful that it was Jack in the room and not Alex. I didn’t know if I could have handled this reveal twice.

Then, when things are reconciled, at least for the time being, comes this scene:

Jack stroked me all over with his bare hands. Up and down. Not leaving any part of my body untouched. I’m trained as a masseuse, and yet I’m one of those strange creatures who don’t like to be massaged. In fact, if I don’t know someone well, I don’t like to be touched at all. I don’t hug people on greeting. I don’t spontaneously hold hands with my friends. I have a history of being stand- offish in this way.
And yet...
When Jack used his bare hands to stroke from the tops of my shoulders down to my feet, he made me purr like a relaxed panther. My body was humming, electrified. He didn’t tickle me. He didn’t touch me too gently. He used firm strokes, over and over, until I felt as if I were flying.
Only then, after he’d put me into an almost hypnotic trance of pleasure, did he bend close on the bed, press his face near the nape of my neck, and say, “You worried me.”
He’d lulled me, tricked me, created this false sense of
safeness in my surroundings, and now that was replaced by instant awareness. My skin prickled. My muscles tightened.
“On purpose,” Jack continued.
His breath warmed the back of my neck, but I would not turn my head to look at him. I was frightened of what I might see in his cold blue eyes.
“I told you before,” he continued in a menacing whisper. “I told you not to make me worry.”
Oh, I’d been so pleased with my plan. And it had worked exactly how I’d hoped. But should I have confronted Jack in a different way? Spoken to him like an adult rather than playing behind his back? No... He understood this. He understood dirty pool. Christ, he was a lawyer after all. But that didn’t mean I could get away free. Jack had to take back the power. And that meant I would endure the punishment he chose.
I could feel Jack’s body against mine, pressing hard. He was still dressed, which made me feel more naked than ever. He straddled my body from behind, so that I could feel how hard he was, and I knew that I’d turned him on. He was like steel. Even when I’d made him worry, I’d managed to turn him on. We had a powerful connection, a type that rarely exists. You can meet people who will spank you. You can meet people who will tie you up, who will fuck you six ways to Sunday. But this was different.

“A powerful connection, a type that rarely exists.” There you have it. Shakespeare’s “marriage of true minds.” Two people who have the incredible luck of finding each other, in a book readers have the incredible luck of being able to read, with no impediments.