Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Finding Your Dominant, Part Two

Last week I promised you that we’d talk this week about how to find yourself a Dominant. If you’re sure you’re ready, here we go.



If you’ll recall I asked you to make some lists and think about some things. One of the things I asked you to do was to decide exactly what it was you wanted in the way of a D/s relationship. I also asked you to make a list of the things you’d want or expect. Let’s tackle the relationship first.

If you looked at the issue of the type of relationship you’d want and you drew some firm conclusions, great. If not, I’d suggest that you try again. You need to know exactly what you want before you go looking. It’s not like a car; there aren’t thousands of options out there and you have to figure out which one you want. Before you think I’m wrong about that, remember: A car can’t choose whether or not it wants YOU as an owner. A potential Dominant is going to have to decide if you’re a good fit for him, so  you’d better be clear about everything in your own mind before you go mucking around in someone else’s. Did you decide that you want something full-time? Just the bedroom? Live in a difficult area in which to be different? All of these are factors.

By the way, before we go any farther, if you are not a member of Fetlife, I’d suggest that you get on there and join right now. Like yesterday. Fetlife is the largest – and safest – fetish community on the Internet, and it could be a great resource for you. Yes, it could help you find someone to hook up with, but I hope you won’t see it that way. As a hook-up site, it’s no better than Craigslist. But there are lots of people there who can answer questions for you, give you ideas, things like that, and you can meet people with similar kink to yours and explore things you’d never thought about before. You won’t feel quite so alone. Go to Gmail or Hotmail or Outlook or one of the other email hosts and make yourself an account specifically for this purpose. This serves two purposes: It keeps your Fetlife account separate from everything else, and it helps you maintain the privacy of your identity should anyone go snooping. And they may, so be prepared.

Now, back to the purpose at hand. Look at your list. Did you decide you wanted something 24/7? Do you really know what that means? Do you like picking out your own clothes? Yeah, that right may disappear. Are you accustomed to getting approval on your grocery list, or do you just put things on there that you run out of or that you’d like to have? That may be a thing of the past – even going to the grocery alone may be against the rules. How you cut or color your hair, whether or not you have manicures and pedicures done or wear polish – even the color of polish – may not be your choice anymore. Ever thought about having your nipples or labia pierced? That may be a requirement. He may even expect you to get a tattoo of some kind. Does the idea of any of those things bother you? It shouldn’t. If you’re looking for a real, honest to goodness Dominant, you may have to make concessions – you both may have to. So be specific in what you want.

If you haven’t made your list of hard and soft limits, this would be a good time to do that too. You’ll need that to have an intelligent, open, honest discussion about wants and needs, and for any potential dominant to feel confident about your suitability as a submissive.

Now as for that relationship . . .

I think I warned you straight up about looking for a Dominant if you’re already married. I hope you’ll heed that warning if you want to stay in your current relationship. You also need to be up front about that with any Dominant with whom you’d want to start a relationship, and if he’s married or in a long-term, committed relationship, he could be honest about that with you. You’ll need to find out first thing if this is a relationship strictly for play, one where you get together on a prescribed scheduled, or maybe just as able, and scene together. Are you open to someone who only wants to play and has no interest in a long-term relationship of any kind? Maybe someone who has one or more other submissives, and possibly even someone who would want you to interact (maybe even sexually) with their other submissives? Or are you looking for a relationship that would lead to an emotional connection, possibly even marriage? You not only need to know for yourself, but you’re going to need to be clear about that going in. Yes, there is always the possibility that you’ll start to play and one or both of you will fall in love. But I wouldn’t count on that, so if that’s what you’re looking for, be very clear about that so your potential partner knows that’s what you want and can tell you straight up if he’s not interested.

Now, decide how much time you have to devote to the relationship. A lot of people are now opting for LDR – long-distance relationships. In the age of the Internet, this is becoming popular. That’s a great option . . . if you simply want someone to issue orders for you. And you’re not sure you’ll want to follow them. Without that person there to see what’s happening and relying only on what you’ll tell them, you’re both at a distinct disadvantage. Sure, they may ask you to perform various sex acts on camera for them, but that’s not the same as a hands-on approach (not to mention that they’d better be completely trustworthy or you’ll wind up seeing your junk with a huge blue dildo sticking out of it on kink.com). Yes, the relationship may come with arrangements to get together in person monthly, or quarterly, or even just once, depending on how far apart you are.  If you’re simply looking for structure and someone who seems to give a damn, this might be a good enough arrangement for you. If, however, you’re looking for sexual contact, this probably won’t cut it.

If hands-on play is really what you want, then it’s going to be more time consuming. If the relationship is 24/7, that’s easy enough, but if it’s just a play partner relationship, it can be one session per month or three per week, so make sure you have the time necessary.

Still making that list? Good. Because here we go.

If you are looking for a long-distance relationship, you should have the easiest time of all the possible scenarios. Initially, an LDR can give you an opportunity to learn someone’s style, find out what they expect, and get to know them before you possibly meet in person. If you simply don’t like the things they’re telling you to do, they may not be a good fit for you. If you were clear up front that you don’t like nipple clamps and that’s the very first thing you’re asked to do, this may not be the relationship for you. Remember, ANY Dominant is going to instruct you to do things you don’t like. That’s the nature of the relationship: Service without thought to self. (If right about now you’re thinking, “Oh, I’m in this for what I can get out of it,” perhaps you missed that little piece of info about service. Don’t. It’s very important.) So being asked to do things you may not necessarily want to do is part of it. But if you have hard limits (and you should’ve already identified those) and you’re continually being asked to cross those, you’ve got a poor fit there. An LDR can help you eliminate those before problems arise. But I’m not suggesting that you be flippant with the relationship. Ask any and all of those questions you can think of before you ever enter into the relationship.

But you’re not looking for an LDR. You want a living, breathing Dominant to stand there in front of you and tell you to strip, right? Okay. There’s one thing we need to discuss first. And you’re not going to like it, but it has to be addressed.

SAFETY

Yes, I said it. I know. You’re thinking, “I can’t wear a seatbelt during sex, so I don’t know what the hell this is about. I’m a grown up AND a pretty good judge of character.”

Listen up: Our cemeteries are littered with the bodies of women who thought they could trust the men they were with. You are stepping into a fetish zone in which application of pain is the norm, not the exception. Playing with anyone, even your husband or fiancé, can have dangerous ramifications. You’d better know this person and know them well, or know someone else who does.

First off, before meeting up with anyone, have a series of safe calls set up. Have someone who’s expecting your call at regular intervals during the meeting, someone who won’t get interested in The Walking Dead, look up at one thirty in the morning, and go, “Oh, hell, Ann was supposed to call me at ten! I hope she’s okay . . .” Nope. It’s got to be someone who will wait for that call and act on the prescribed, agreed-upon steps if they don’t get it. And yes, calling the police should be one of those steps.

Second, if you’re meeting for the first, or even third, time, it should be in a public place with plenty of people around. You should be putting yourself in a position where you can watch this individual coming in and see what kind of car they’re driving. Make note. If you have the opportunity, jot down a license plate number or take a pic of it with your phone. If the potential Dominant you’re meeting is on the level, he won’t mind at all; matter of fact, he’ll be glad you’re taking care with your safety and encourage you to do that sort of thing. And do NOT leave the public area with this person. If you decide you’re finished with coffee and you’d like to go somewhere to eat, drive yourself. Do not be alone with him for any reason. It’s not safe.

Third, once you’ve met, ask for references. Yes, references, just like for a job. If he’s part of the community and knows the score, he’ll kind of expect that. Nothing wrong with it. Yes, one of them may be his mother. A coworker is nice. An ex-sub is even better. If he can give you the name and number of an ex-sub who maybe decided just to go with another Dominant for needs he wasn’t willing to meet, that’s great. Someone else in the fetish community would be a great reference (we’re going to talk about that later). But references are a good idea – always.

Fourth, be very, very open in that first meeting about what you want and need from the relationship. If you’ve read anything I’ve ever said on this subject, you know that I believe communication is key in all things. So let me help you here if you’re a little squeamish.

Get one of my books. Yeah, Laying a Foundation or Adventurous Me would be good choices. Find every passage that has really explicit language in it. Now, go and stand in front of the mirror and read those out loud to yourself in the mirror. Say those words. Yes, I know it’s hard at first, but do it. Practice it. If you can’t say cock or pussy out loud to a potential Dominant, you’re in trouble. Yes, you may say “fellatio,” but eventually that’ll get old. Saying those words will allow you to be clear about what it is that you want. And being clear about what you want will save you a second and third meeting if the two of you just aren’t meshing.

So now you’re thinking: Enough of this shit! I want a Dominant! When is she going to tell me how to get one? We’re almost there.

Here’s your assignment before next week: Find your kink community. There are kinky people in your community, I assure you. See if you can find some of them. Look on Fetlife (yes, get in there and get yourself an account – right now!) and find out if there’s a munch in your area. If there is, make sure it’s open to new people and then GO (but being open to new people is the purpose of a munch, so if it’s not, your local kink scene has a real problem). You shouldn’t be looking for a Dominant at this point, necessarily. Finding other submissives with whom you can talk and compare notes is a good idea. You can find out through them what’s realistic and what’s just pie-in-the-sky Fifty-Shades-Of-Gray ridiculous as an expectation.

But if your area doesn’t have a kink community (or at least one you can find), try the nearest adult store. It’s been my experience in every store I’ve visited that the clerks are not only open and friendly but also some of the most knowledgeable people you’ll find, not only about the store and their products, but about the sexual community in general. They can also tell you if there are any clubs in your area and, if so, probably give you info about someone you could contact to talk to about visiting, or take your info for that person to contact you. Or they may know of a couple of people who’d like to start some kind of group in the area but haven’t found others to meet. If you’re too shy to walk into the store or to talk to the clerk, you probably aren’t going to get very far with this whole endeavor, so man up, park in the back, and walk through that door.

Also, it may be necessary for you to drive a good distance to find a community to get involved with, so decide now if that’s something you’re willing to do, maybe monthly or every six weeks. Our nearest club is two and a half hours away. I’d gladly drive that distance once a month to get together with others if Sir were open to that – which he’s not.

And here are some links for glossaries of terms. Look them over. They can make you feel less self-conscious if you’re meeting a group of people. Knowing the lingo will help you feel like you fit in.


So get on it. You know where to start. Next week: Where to find those Doms. They’re out there, I swear, but you’ve got to be ready.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Finding Your Dominant, Part One

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’m asked, “How do I find a Dominant?” or, “How do I tell my guy what I want?” I could easily buy that new Mustang I’ve been eyeing. Red, of course. This will be a multi-post because, quite frankly, I’m smart enough to know you wouldn’t sit and read everything that needs to be said in one sitting. That leads me to answer another question. “Isn’t there an easy, quick way to do this?” And the answer?

No.

And I’m not even going to elaborate on this, because there isn’t. Just like with most things, this isn’t an event – it’s a process, and it takes time and care. So let’s just jump in there, shall we?

No. I can tell you right now - you're probably not going to look this sexy.
Sorry. You won't have a photographer to set up the shot or a makeup artist to work with you.
Unless you're really, really into this. Then hire them all.

But beware: I’m going to stop you right here and say this clearly. If you’re married or in a committed relationship, your partner isn’t interested in your kink (and, yes, that’s what it is), and you think you’ll just find a Dominant to “meet your needs,” clear this with your partner, make sure the Dominant knows you’re married, and make sure that EVERYONE is cool with this. If not, shut this blog post down and don’t go any farther. You will wind up divorced and/or alone, or with a reputation that would keep any self-respecting Dominant from working with you. Is that what you really want?

First and foremost, you need to ask yourself some questions before you go looking for a Dominant. The biggest question is, why do you want a Dominant? Let me rephrase that: Why do you think you want a Dominant? Did you read “that popular trilogy written by a British author” and decide that’s what you want? Have you known for years that you want or even need this kind of stimulation or interaction? Do the tools and toys look like fun? Is this something that you crave? Are you just bored with the guy you’re with and your current relationship?

Second, you need to decide just what kind of relationship you want to have. Do you want a full-time Dominant/submissive relationship? A lot of people think they do, only to find that it’s next to impossible, and both parties have to be fully committed to it if so. Do you just want to dress up and play? If so, every time you have sex, or just occasionally? So are you looking for an actual Dominant, a play partner, or a love interest who will fall into this easily? (And yes, there is the possibility that you’ll find a Dominant and the two of you will fall in love. A possibility. I wouldn’t consider it a probability unless you’re up-front about that right off the bat.) Are there things you simply won’t do? Define those right away, maybe even make a list of them so your mind is very clear on those points. It may be that you’re interested in the gamut of BDSM, or you may not be. By that I mean that you may be into the sado-masochistic aspect and need the edge of pain it provides, but panic if your hands are tied or you’re blindfolded. Conversely, you may be someone who is aroused by being restrained or bound. Maybe you love being tied up, maybe even zipped into a full-body latex suit complete with full-head mask, or having your ankles bound to a spreader bar while you’re bent over with your hands cuffed around a post. There are many, many different aspects of the lifestyle to consider, even if it is a lifestyle for you, or something you just want to dabble in. These are things you need to determine before you go on this hunt. Sure, you can be clear that you’ve never experienced anything like that and you’d like to try it. If so, read on.

Third, you need to know exactly what you can tolerate. Get yourself a little flogger and try lashing yourself. Hurt too much? That’s a good thing to know about yourself. Can’t stand to have your nipples pinched? Then nipple clamps are probably not for you. Everyone has different tolerance points and things they just can’t stand. I do not like to have my feet tickled, period. It’s a mood-killer. I’m one of those people who can have their hair almost pulled out by the roots and it doesn’t bother me, but from the time he was small, my son has never liked brushing his hair – he says it hurts too much. We’re all different, so know what you can stand and what you can’t. And know if being restrained is a panic point for you. Some people are so claustrophobic that blindfolding them sets them into a spiral. Know thyself. And you may even be interested in some degree of ménage, or perhaps poly play or a poly relationship. Those present problems of their own, but we can talk about that later.

Fourth, acknowledge if this isn’t even realistic for you. Maybe you live in a small town, population eighty-three and that pair of conjoined twins down the block (no one’s ever figured out how to count them). If that’s the case, I may be able to help you down the road. Just hang in there and we’ll talk about that later.

And if you’ve already got a guy you’re head over heels in love with, how do you let him know what you’re interested in without him running for the hills? And what if you do let him know and he does head for the hills? We’ll cover that later on too. It may not be as hard as you think.

But know this up front: There is an aspect on which I won’t compromise, and that is one simple word:

SAFETY

I can’t say this often enough: This is one of those things where safety can always, always be in question. No matter how much you think you know, or how much experience this Dominant has, or whether or not you’ve got all the right toys, there is no substitute for safety. You may have a Dominant who is experienced in knot tying similar to shibari, but if he uses the wrong kind of rope, you’re going to have a problem. You can get into trouble with a lot of the things offered in the kink world if you’re not well-versed in their application or use. And there is one that’s worth mentioning.

Breath play. I may get some backlash about this, but I’ve got to say it: There is no safe way to do restrictive breath play. I’m going to say it again: There is no safe way to do restrictive breath play. About the only way to even do breath play is with paper bags or simple holding of the breath, something that when you pass out, it stops. Otherwise, well, let’s just say that every year, dozens of people are arrested when their partner dies from what they thought would be a safe, simple round of breath play. Even physicians who are involved in the lifestyle say there is no safe way to do restrictive breath play. I do not condone it, and you won’t ever see it written about in my books. It’s just too risky.

The other obvious safety issue is actually meeting a Dominant. I’m going to give you some ideas for doing so, but they’re going to be safe. This is not something you can just trust your instincts on, or go with your gut, or whatever you want to call it. There are so many things that can go wrong during a session that safety has got to be first and foremost on everyone’s minds, and that includes just getting off on the wrong foot to begin with. Because believe me, dying will make your arousal disappear in a heartbeat, no pun intended, and the cemeteries in our country are littered with the graves of women who thought they could trust the men they were with and found out too late that they were wrong.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let me give you a little homework before next week. You’ve just read this post, so go get yourself a tablet and a pencil, or sit down with your iPad or computer, and start thinking. Don’t try to do this in one sitting. Make some notes, walk away, and come back later, or stop by and jot them down as you walk through a room. Write out exactly why you want this, and be honest with yourself about it, bone-slashing honest. Decide what kind of relationship you want and describe it exactly as you picture it. Think about what you really want to do and make a list of the actual physical activities: Nipple torture; orgasm denial; flogging, whipping, caning; restraint, either simple (a pair of cuffs) or extreme (full-body binding of some sort for an extended period of time); electro-erotic play (TENS unit, violet wand); maybe even some of the kink that most people find disgusting (golden showers, scat play, etc.), because, yes, some people enjoy that stuff, and who are we to decide that’s wrong if they’re consenting adults? And then, decide if this is even realistic for you. Look around you – do you know anyone else who’s in the lifestyle? Have a girlfriend who has talked to you about what she and her guy do in the way of kink? Have an adult store in town where you can go and look at supplies? If the answer to all of these is “no,” you need to decide if this is important enough to need to travel for it, or possibly even move to be involved in a relationship or relationships that will offer you that.  You may decide that it’s just too inconvenient, time-consuming, or looks too impossible when you see it all on paper, but make that list of things you’d have to do to be involved with a Dominant on a serious basis, or even to find a place to play.

Get that list made and get ready. And if you think of questions you’d like for me to cover as I go along, please, send them to me. I’ll answer every one of them if I can, pass them off to someone else if I can’t, and if the answer is too personal, I’ll get in touch with you privately so as to avoid embarrassment on the part of either of us. So get to work. And find me on Facebook or email me if you need to. There’s no shame in trying to find a way to get your groove on.

Next week: Let’s try some actual steps to find a Dominant, shall we? Good – I thought you’d like that!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Size DOES matter

There it is again. I'm sorry. This is a hysterical pic and I just had to add it.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I'm sure Santa has something awesome in store for you. But now, we need to discuss something that no one wants to discuss. They tiptoe around it, but really, it’s pretty important. And it’s very simple. All those comments about, “It’s not the size of the ship but the motion of the ocean,” and “Women don’t care about size as long as they’re satisfied?” I just have one comment about those.

Bullshit.

I know someone who had this boyfriend about whom she said, “Yeah. It’s like a button on a fur coat.” I didn’t know exactly what she meant. And then some guys started sending me pics of their junk in PMs on Facebook. Unsolicited. Trust me. Anyway, I started to see these coming in, which of course I must want, seeing as how I write erotic romance (blech) and I noticed something.

There are guys who just don’t realize how tiny their penises really are. I mean, they flash these mini macs like they’re Ron Jeremy, and it’s pathetic. At least a couple of them should do a trim job so they could actually be seen. That jungle thatch provides deep cover for a willy that’s trying to disappear into the forest.

But there are a lot of guys, really nice guys, who have this disadvantage too. I mean, I’m pretty sure I don’t know any of them, but they’re out there. *insert wink here* They have successful relationships with happy women. They have secrets, and they’re good ones. So let me elaborate.

First of all, they make the most of what they have. By that, I mean they learn positions that will give them the greatest, um, trajectory, for lack of a better word. Angle can help a lot, it really can. Positions like Pressing Passion, The Twining, or anything where she’s on top, can be the best for these guys. Anything from behind, though, can be the death of fun. He’s got to be of at least average length and breadth to make that work. Some guys just can’t. Experimentation is key.

Next, trim those trees. If you can’t find it for the thicket, get out your trimmer and go to town. Personally, shaved smooth would be great with me, but a lot of guys are just too reluctant to do that. Why, I don’t know. But I can tell you this; no woman wants a mouthful of hair. So just do it and quit whining about it. And yes, once you do it, you have to keep it up. Just be glad you don’t have to shave your legs and armpits every damn day. Of course, you can if you want. I have to admit, I’ve never been one to judge.

Following those little tidbits, develop that “she comes first” attitude. In case you don’t know about this, I’m going to enlighten you. Pay close attention. Your daddy didn’t tell you this; hell, he probably didn’t know this. So here goes.

There is a physiological response in the female body that’s been built into it from the dawn of time. You see, survival of the species was dependent on mating and replicating, of course. The human female is not the only mammal who has a clitoris, but it is the one that most commonly uses it for sexual stimulation. But why would that be important? Because stimulation of the clitoris and the resulting orgasm makes the human female want to have sex. Does your woman complain that she’s not sure what the big deal about sex is? It’s because she’s not put into that frame of mind by what you have or haven’t done.

But once you’ve given her that first orgasm, she wants to have sex. Really. I mean, really, really wants to have sex. It’s the mating response. And once that kicks in, it’s smooth sailing if you know some useful positions and other tricks of the trade. Yes, it means you have to wait. You’re not three years old. Develop some self-control.

Finally, as for those tricks of the trade I mentioned, here’s where you need to get over yourself. What do I mean by that?

A dildo is not a human sex organ. It’s latex. You’d be amazed at the number of men who are intimidated by a latex phallus. It’s ridiculous. But they’ve got it in their heads that if they use one that’s bigger than they are, the object of their affection (unless she’s a blowup doll) will like it better than she likes him and he’ll be out in the cold while she entertains herself with the Jumbo Juicer.
Guys, that’s not going to happen. Well, okay, it might in one case out of one hundred. Make that eighty. If you’re a real asshole and don’t pay any attention to her at all, well, that drops to one out of twenty, and I wouldn’t blame her.

But if you’re not well endowed, using sex toys of any kind can really kickstart the session and get it going in a direction so favorable that, by the time you’re at the point where it’s your turn to “take the plunge,” she wouldn’t care if you were sporting a toothpick – she just wants it, and wants it right that minute.

And as for sex toys, don’t neglect the nipples. You may not know this, but the nerves in the nipples are directly linked to the uterus. That’s why breastfeeding helps a woman’s uterus shrink after childbirth. But there’s now some research that suggests the signals the brain receives from the nipples bypasses the uterus altogether and are very, very similar to those signals received from the genitals. Any good clinician of women’s sexual health (of which there are very few, believe me, but that’s a subject for another blog post) will tell you that nipple play is crucial in the play session. Keep that in mind.

So here are some last-minute holiday shopping ideas that your woman might like. You can get things like this at Babeland, Adam & Eve, and Stockroom, all fine retailers. And don’t forget Amazon. They have an amazing selection of goodies.




Dildo – Make it a good one. Nice quality latex, easy to clean, and big enough that she can actually feel it. If you want it similar in size to you, that’s fine, but this is supposed to get her ready, not be the grand finale, so remember that. If you really want to turn up the heat, get a double ended one. What are you supposed to do with the other end, you ask? Use your imagination, you idiot. You can figure this out. Whatever you decide to do with the other end is the right thing to do – no matter WHAT it is. Speaking of which, don’t forget another dildo or some anal beads or a plug if you want to take her to the “dark side.” It’s fun over there, cookies or no, and having separate toys for that foray is a must for safety sake. Then it’s wash, wash, wash with a good quality antibacterial soap or toy cleaner, followed by rinse, rinse, rinse, and air dry. Because, just because.

Vibrator – Make this a good one too. In this particular instance, cost is an indicator of quality. Yes, battery powered ones are good, but only if you have a big, BIG package of batteries handy and you’re willing to possibly waste some in order to change them out each time you’ve had them in use for awhile. In other words, after three nights of use, even if it seems to still have juice, change out the batteries. Nothing’s worse than being right in the middle of a session and having the damn thing die. And I should know. Hence the entry in my little world of the Hitachi Magic Wand. Yes, the damn thing needs a cord that’s longer than 2.5 feet (what the hell were they thinking?), but it’s still more reliable than its battery-powered cousins. It even has attachments available. And you can get a harness that allows it to be strapped on for forced orgasms. How cool is that? Well, I think so anyway. And now you have too much information. Damn. I do that all the time.

Rope and restraints – The right kind, not the wrong kind. No clothesline rope. Something soft and slick. Japanese shibari rope is best, but it’s kinda pricey. You can find something else, but it should be something that isn’t self-grabbing so it doesn’t tighten on its own. And read up on rules of bondage and restraint so you know how this is done safely. Frankly, buckling or Velcro closure cuffs are a lot safer. Add a spreader bar to them, and voila! It’s hours of fun!

Nipple clamps – These come in all types, styles, kinds, colors, and strengths. I’d advise starting out with something not to terribly harsh in the beginning, so steer clear of clover clamps and go for something adjustable, like a pair of duckbill clamps. Having a chain between them is even better. Many clamps have holes from which you can hang weights. If you can’t afford them, any kind of adjusting, locking pliers will do, and they can be even headier when allowed to dangle in some positions.

Candles – Two kinds here. One, women are very, very sensitive to smell, so scented candles can go a long way toward getting her ready. So can a shower (for you, not necessarily for her), because no woman wants to have sex with a guy who smells like the bottom of a gym bag. The other are wax play candles. No, you cannot buy them at the Yankee Candle store. They’re specially made to be safe for wax play, and you do need to look up some instruction on their use. And don’t forget the lotion or oil to prepare the skin beforehand.

Fantasy clothing – Most women, if they’re honest, will tell you that they like dressing up. If they’re into age play, they want to wear things an eight year old would wear. But most of us like to get a little (okay, a lot) slutty when we’re dressing out for play. Satin, lace, spandex, latex – it’s all fun. Stockings. Stilettos. Even hooker platforms. They’re all alluring and stimulate parts of the brain that make us feel more adventurous and open. You can buy them for her but, better yet, let her pick them out herself. Yes, she’s wearing it for you in theory, so if it’s something you like, that’s good. But if you let her pick out what she wants to wear, she’s going to pick out something that she thinks makes her look sexier, and that’s going to make her feel sexier. Get it? No? You’re an idiot. Go hire a hooker. At least she’ll be complimentary.

Gift card – Most of the major adult retailers offer online gift cards. Get her one and let her pick out some things. And don’t be intimidated by her choices. Just run with them. You’ll love it, I promise.

Crazy paraphernialia – This encompasses all of the extremely expensive, hard-to-use or hard-to-mount shit that’s available out there. Fucking machines. Sex swings (yeah, don’t get that sucker anchored in a rafter and the ceiling will the least of your worries). Sounds. (Don’t know what those are? Look them up.) Catheters. Enema systems. Expensive bondage furniture. All kinds of ramps and pillows and wedges. And don’t forget electro-erotic play. I love that stuff, but it’s hellspensive. You don’t need any of these things, but if you can afford them, well, buy the hell out of them. It’ll be fun city at your house for a long, long time.

So to recap, a teeny wienie doesn’t have to be the end of your career as a sexual overlord. It can be a bump in the road, or it can be a grand adventure toward some things you never would’ve tried anyway. If you're creative, you can be her hero forever and a man every woman lusts after (well, you and your toy box). And if all else fails?

There’s always jelqing. And that’s another blog post.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Me and my filthy mind

First off, let me clarify: If you don’t know anything about me and you’ve stumbled across this blog post, you should know that I write erotic romance and erotica. Apparently, that’s otherwise known as smut. Whatever. It’s fun. If you don’t like it, I’ve got two words for you.

Bite me.

Yes. It's a pic of a naked guy. Who's not twenty-two.
And it's my blog, so I can do this if I want.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I can get on to what I wanted to say in today’s post. And that’s simply this:

I have a filthy mind. I know this about myself. I’m not going to deny it. Yes, it’s filthier than most, I do believe (I could be wrong on this point, but I’m betting I’m not). Even if it’s not filthier than most, I write down some of it, and that puts me in a class all by myself. Well, me and several thousand other smut writers. But that kind of went without saying.

Anyway, I started trying to figure out how I got here, and I’m not really sure, so I thought I’d throw out some ideas and see where they went.

First off, I grew up in an uber-ultraconservative home where being humble reigned supreme and they were proud to tell you how humble they were. My dad wanted to be the most important person at the church, which led to him not only working in the evenings as the custodian there, but served an even greater purpose – it gave him a few more minutes a day away from my mother. I sometimes went with him while he worked there. There was a reason for that. Hang on. I’m getting to it.

I was an insomniac until I got pregnant the first time, at which time I finally learned to not only sleep, but to love it. Why was I an insomniac, you ask? Because every night, for hours and hours, I had to listen to my parents fight. What were they fighting about?

Sex.

She didn’t want it. He did it wrong. He said the wrong things. She felt like a dirty whore when she had sex with him. Blah, blah, blah. Remember: This was all coming from a woman who told me just a few years ago that the nurses in the hospital were idiots because they inserted her catheter in the wrong place. She thought she urinated through her clitoris. When I asked her if, like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes, had she ever taken a mirror and taken a good look at the “wonder down under,” she promptly said, “Eewwwww!” End of discussion.

All of this said, here’s the interesting part: My dad was a porn addict. While he was telling my mother that he didn’t have the money to buy us shoes or to send us to the clinic when we were sick, he was racking up the porn magazines and hiding them in the HVAC registers all over the house. Oh, and there was a loose floorboard in the attic too. He wasn’t especially creative.

Would I ever talk to my mother about sex? Hell, no. I’d get something like this: “Yeah, you’re just like your father,” which, in some ways, isn’t all that bad.

But, of course, there’s the year he insisted on getting us a Super8 movie projector. Then he’d never buy us movies for it. You can only watch the same two ten-minute movies a couple of times and you’re over it. I always wondered why he gave it to us when he didn’t want to buy more movies. And then one day, in their closet, I came across his movie purchases. Disney they weren’t.

As I got older, nobody talked to me about sex except my friends, and most of them didn’t know any more about it than I did. Their parents weren’t real forthcoming either. Or they were way too forthcoming and, well, I won’t go there. Suffice it to say I got a lot of really skewed, convoluted misinformation.

I married young to a man who was interested in his satisfaction. Mine was never a concern. Yay me. Unfortunately, I also spent a lot of time around my mother (a thing I have since rectified). In doing so, I got to listen to her gripe and complain about my dad, what a filthy mind he had, how he was gross and disgusting during sex.

Friends, if you don’t think listening to your mother bitch about her sex life will affect not only your attitude about sex but also your libido, think again.

Here’s the thing I know about myself, though. From an early age, I was very sexual. I think I started learning about nipple sensation when I was about six. I didn’t find my clitoris until I was maybe twelve. I didn’t know what it was. I only knew that I liked it – a lot. There was something else I liked a lot too.

Boys. Oh yeah. I liked boys A LOT. Lots and lots of boys. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a slut, but it didn’t take a lot of coercion. Maybe a little liquor, but not coercion.

Oh, who the hell am I kidding. I was a slut.

So I slept my way through my later years of high school – after 15, with the boy who’d later become my ex-husband, the only way I can even tolerate thinking of him – and when we split up, I took on anybody I fancied. I had myself some fun. My ultra-conservative parents were appalled (well, one of them anyway). I, on the other hand, was having the time of my life.

It was during that period that I met Sir. He’s always claimed he was a virgin when he met me. He is an absolute, positive liar, of this I’m absolutely positive. I can tell you, however, that he knew NOTHING about sex. By the way, that’s bold faced, underscored, and italicized for a reason, indeed it is. Everything he knows about good sex, I taught him. Now he’s a pro, whatever that is, but yeah, he’s pretty damn fine. So stay the hell away. He’s mine.

Anyway, I raised two kids, worked full time, had a partner who, back then, was gone four weeks and home two (and I do mean gone, like leave-and-don’t-come-back, won’t-be-here-for-the-holidays gone), and sex was something that really didn’t mean a lot. Then the kids grew up, Sir’s work moved to a four weeks on/four weeks off kind of thing, and we were together more. It was torture. Not kidding.

Worse yet, I had no libido. None. It was gone. Plus, for those who don’t know me, I’ve battled severe clinical depression my entire life. Finally, in 2011, after burying four family members in 18 months and living through a summer of sheer hell on earth, I decided my life either had to get better, or I had to die. For reasons I cannot explain, I decided it would get better.

The first thing I did was go to a new doctor, one who actually did more than say, “Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh,” followed by, “Now, look.” I talked to her frankly. I told her that I had no libido. And I told her that I was depressed. She prescribed an antidepressant. I also went to a new gynecologist and told her that I had no libido, plus a lot of other symptoms which screamed menopause (I had a hysterectomy in 1983 and never received hormone replacement therapy). She started me on HRT. I started watching what I ate and working out. And something mysterious and wonderful happened. I don’t know where my libido had been, but it came back from its long, long vacation with some demands, namely “feed me,” “feed me,” and “feed me.”

But there was trouble in Paradise because, unbeknownst to me, the antidepressant I was taking had a horrible side effect: I developed anorgasmia. I don’t really want to explain that, so look it up. And considering that me and my libido were putting Sir through the ringer, god help him, it was devastating. I wound up at a women’s sexual health research facility in Nashville, Tennessee, and I’m proud to say that, after two years of treatment, I have a new “normal.” It’s not like the old “normal” (whatever that was), but rather is better in some ways and worse in others.

And now for my filthy mind.

Yes, I think about sex – a lot. I’m not going to lie about it. Hell, I’d better; I write about it. All my writing life I’ve heard it over and over: “Write what you know.” And I aim to do enough research to know exactly what I’m talking about when I write. Did some last night. Ha – WTMI! Whatever. But I do think about it a lot, and act on it too. Because of all this, I’ve learned some very important things.

One is that women really do think about and talk about sex more than men. They say a man thinks about sex five times every seven seconds. If that’s true, I don’t know how the average woman gets anything done except to say that women are exceptional multi-taskers, and you know I’m right. Anyway, I’d say I think about sex at least every seven seconds, maybe more. But I’m trying to write sex scenes, so I have an excuse. What’s yours? Oh, sorry. More WTMI.

Another is that women talk about sex more than men do. When my friend, lazy Hitler that he is, told me that, I scoffed. I also scoffed when he told me, “Guys don’t say boobs; they say tits.” And, with some observation, I discovered he was right. They also say “titties,” a word that just grates on my nerves, so don’t say it around me. I mean it. But I also discovered that he was right about the talking thing. We do talk about sex more than guys, and we’re way, way more graphic when we do. If you don’t believe me, come to a few author takeovers on Facebook and you’ll see.

Then there’s another difference between men and women: We can’t keep our hands to ourselves. I’ve seen several admonishments from authors regarding the cover models who sometimes accompany them to book signings, asking readers to please be respectful. One even said they’d appreciate it if readers didn’t grope the models and/or spend copious amounts of time telling them all the sexy, nasty things they’d like to do to the poor guys. Most of them are married and/or have kids, and they are super, super nice, friendly, sweet guys who don’t mind baring it for the camera but don’t especially want to sleep with every woman they meet. Apparently some women have trouble discerning “appropriate touching.” Frankly, I think that comes from a society where, as soon as they hit puberty, men are taught to keep their hands to themselves, but women are taught that guys like girls who are a little slutty. Problem is, we have trouble telling the difference.

And then there are the pictures. Oh, my god, the pictures. They’re all over Facebook, naked guys, half-naked guys, guys with cock socks, guys without cock socks, guys with full backal nudity. (Hmmmm. What’s the opposite of frontal? I’m not sure.) And gay porn. Oh, yeah, women like gay porn. I’m not sure why we do, but we do. It’s yummy. Maybe it’s because, as a general rule, gay guys pay way more attention to their appearances than straight guys. I know more than a few women who’ve had their pictures censored or even been blocked because of the pics they posted. Which is a damn shame, because I liked them.

Me? I try to show a little restraint. I posted a pic of a girl wearing a thong with a handprint on her ass that was obviously Photoshopped in and got a slap on the wrist. Asshats.

Put this all together, and you’ve got a bunch of horny, worked-up women running around, talking about sex, looking at porn, and grabbing the crotch of extremely hot guys (not me, I would never, never do that). Which has led me to an important conclusion.

I came by my filthy mind honestly. Fifty Shade of Grey was not made popular by male readers, although they’ve been looking at BDSM-themed pics in porn for years. No, it was made popular by female readers who either enjoy that type of sexual activity, or wish their guys would man up and give them that. And maybe they’re too shy to tell the guys that. Let me tell you, they’re not too shy to tell each other that – they’re talking about it ALL THE TIME.

Fortunately for me and my partners in crime, they’re reading about it too. There’s a lot of it in my books. Lazy Hitler read one and said, “There’s a lot of sex in there,” which prompted the discussion of tits and lady sex talk. I write it. I write it because Sir told me, after reading FSOG, “Honey, you write a lot better than this.” It's been very beneficial for our sex life, because I get to think about and write about this stuff all the time and make a little money to boot, so I fill page after page full of it as I chuckle and giggle and moan. He also knows me and he knows I can get that on paper, that moment when you’re teetering on the edge and you’re about to drop over. You know the one, where you’re writhing and crying out, eyes closed and rolled back in your head. The moment when you scream out . . .

Sorry. Gotta go. Sir’s home this weekend and time’s a-wasting.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Strangling the muse

I’m forever hearing my fellow authors talking about finding their muse. That always makes me laugh.

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you probably saw my post yesterday about our Thanksgiving festivities. We ate, went back to the apartment of my son and his girlfriend, and visited until she had to go to work. Then we sat around some more. During that sitting-around time, Sir somehow managed to work the word “spluge” into the conversation. I don’t know how; apparently I’ve permanently blocked out that little moment in time. But what ensued was one of those things of which family history is made.

Our daughter, whose personality I’ve described as having my quick wit and sarcastic sense of humor and her dad’s poor timing and total lack of brakes, then began a litany on what I will politely call “Slang Terms For Male Ejaculate.” There are a lot of them. A LOT of them. Tons. Stuff I’d never heard, but made me shriek with laughter. My mother was there, the woman who thinks she urinates from her clitoris, and she tried everything she could within her Southern Baptist constitution to not laugh, but she struggled, I could tell.

The little game session ended with my daughter drawing a penis spewing (pick your slang term here) on her brother’s girlfriend’s mirror, to which I added an arrow and the words “Red Eye Surprise” (yes, yet another slang term we discovered). If this makes you want to friend me on Facebook simply out of curiousity about my weird life, go right ahead. This story is more tame than most.

But I digress.

Here was what happened for me during this little game: I started to think about what some of the Walters men would do in that situation. And I knew exactly. I could hear them in my mind, see their faces. I knew Vic would get the ball rolling; not sure how, but he would. Tony would jump right into the fray and keep it going. Clayton would be laughing so hard he couldn’t speak or breathe, José would pull out some extremely creative terms, and Peyton would blush, get up, and go back into the kitchen, where he’d find Doug watching from the doorway, doubled over with laughter but afraid to get involved for fear he’d hear about it later when he chided someone else for their filthy mouth. Freddie would be overwhelmed and not know where to begin, Bart would be laughing quietly, Bennie would just be grinning, Mark would throw one in occasionally with a little medical terminology flair, and John Henry would be goading Vic on. Nikki and Laura would be listening from the kitchen, shaking their heads; Annabeth and Katie would be glad that they didn’t have to deal with that stuff; and Brittany would be mad that they were carrying on like that with the kids wandering around. And Sophie would wander through, yell, “POOGE, DADDY!!!” and squeal and run down the hall. That would make Tony howl with laughter when Laura came through the doorway and shot Vic a look that would wilt a California redwood.

And if this took place elsewhere, everyone would be getting a glimpse of Clint’s personality since he and Trish have been together because he’d be the ringleader. Out from under the specter of grief and despair where he’d lived for so long, we’d get a chance to find out that Clint is funny and silly and friendly and warm and loving, all those things he didn’t seem capable of. Of course, Steffen would be laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe and throwing in the occasional sickening term, and Dave would be sitting there very matter-of-factly, calmly rattling them off one by one as fast as he could come up with them. Marta and Angela would be screaming with laughter, Sheila would be right in the middle of it, and Trish would be wondering how long it would be before they got a call from McKenna’s teacher when she said something in class about “baby batter.”

But this brings me back to the muses. You see, I don’t have to drum mine up. They’re with me all the time. I don’t think about them; they just live with me. They’ve taken up residence in my head and they won’t go away, and I’m sort of glad. I don’t have to work at it. My books almost write themselves because I just follow the characters and watch them, let their lives unfold, and see where it goes. Yeah, I have a plot and a general idea where it will go, but when I turn them and their personalities loose, things happen that enrich the plots to the point that the books become WAAYYYY  more interesting than I’d originally planned. They fill in the simple, day-to-day things that make the book more realistic between the large events that make the plot what it is.

And that’s fine with me. Let them write the books. Takes some of the pressure off, knowwhatI’msayin’?

Sometimes they’re talking when I’d really rather they weren’t. Like when I’m trying to write in one series and the characters from another are talking. That’s kind of distracting. No, that’s very distracting. Then I have to stop, have a conversation with them, go back to the other manuscripts, note what they’re saying, and then return to what I was doing. What a bother.

Or when I’m at the grocery and Laura and Nikki are talking about cooking something that I have no intention of making in the next month. It’s hard to remember to get rutabagas when someone’s chattering on and on about cheesecake. Hard to stay on a diet too, for that matter.

And then there’s when I’m in the shower. Or having sex. Which is okay if it’s the guys talking, but when it’s the girls, that’s kinda creepy. In a sexy way. Oh, nevermind.

Another author and I were talking one day and he asked if mine ever shut up. I told him no; he said that made him feel not quite so alone because his don’t ever shut up either. Yet another author friend and I have talked about the fact that it’s almost like we’re channeling them. Really, it is. It’s like they take over and tell me what should be going on, like I should be trying on a new pair of Jimmy Choos when, in reality, I’m supposed to be scrubbing the shower. Nice try, Kelly. Have fun at Nordstrom.

So when they get to be too much and you just don’t want to deal with them, or you know what you want to say and you think you don’t need their help, here’s how to get rid of them. I think I will call it:



Remind yourself, “They’re not real”

Yeah, tell yourself that over and over. Remember: If you don’t see them as real people, then your readers won’t either. It will relieve them of the responsibility of reading your work because it’ll be so boring and contrived that they’ll never get through it. When a reader can read your dialogue and say, “Nope. Real people would never say that,” then you’ve managed to shut up the muses. Nice going.

It also cuts down on arguments in the car. Between them, I mean. I wear my Bluetooth EVERYWHERE or people think I’m daft because I’m arguing with myself in the car. I could put down the window and say, “It’s Tony and Nikki, I swear!” But I fear that would get me in even more trouble because, to the rest of the world, I’m alone. If only they knew . . .

I’m never alone.

Create a diversion

This always works nicely. Turn up the music – REALLY LOUD. Or here’s the muse-killer extraordinaire: Turn on the TV. Works every time. If you want to create a situation where they can’t talk to you, TV always sets the mood – unless you’re trying to recreate Vampire Diaries in your books, at which time you’ll need the TV. But you won’t need a computer or pen and paper, because no one wants to read that shit. Been done. Move on.

And there’s always pain pills, booze, or your mother droning on and on over the phone. The mother will kill your muses in under three minutes. The pain pills will do the same. The booze? Hemingway said, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” To which I say, “Amen, brother, preach it.” Do I write better when I’m drinking? I’d like to think so. I’m not sure, but I know I certainly write happier. And yes, it loosens me up. That’s one drink. Two, not so much. With three, let me warn you: NO ONE writes well sloppy drunk. That’ll make your muses run for the hills for sure.

Now, add to this movies with friends, arguments with your kids or significant other, and calling your ex just to fight for no reason. That’ll do it. After all, this isn’t serious business – it’s just writing. No biggie.

Jump from manuscript to manuscript

You’re working along and they’re chattering in the background, but you’re tired of them, so go to that other manuscript, the one you’ve never found the muses for, and work on that for awhile. They’ll get bored and go away. Better yet, start yet another story, one that you really haven’t gotten a feel for yet, but that, for reasons unknown to anyone on the planet, you think will sell better. Yeah, that one. Work on that for awhile. Your muses will eventually give up, go sit down, and whisper amongst themselves. They’ll leave you completely out of the loop and you’ll have peace and quiet to muck around in.

No, I’m not suggesting that you only have one manuscript going. But if you’ve got more than one open at a time, well, you’re pretty sure to chase your muses away. Try it – you’ll see I’m right.

Decide that they’re wrong

You have a character named Bob. Bob is a really, really serious guy. He’s had a hard life, and he rarely if ever smiles. He’s dealing with a lot of emotional pain. To top it off, he’s very shy. You’ve devised this huge soiree you want Bob to go to, and he’s going to be the life of the party. And when you start writing it, Bob says, “Whoa! I’m not going to a party! My social anxiety disorder will kick in big time. I’m getting a little nauseous and flushed just thinking about it. Please, I can’t do this. It will kill me.”

And you say, “No, you’re going to the party. You’re going to be the life of the party, and then later, you’re going back to being your old self. I want everyone to see this side of you, Bob.”

To which Bob responds, “But I don’t HAVE that side. It’s not there. Please, don’t try to make me. It’ll ruin everything.” Actually, he’s begging and pleading.

No, you’re not moved by his entreatment, so you persist. And, as predicted, it comes off leaden and contrived. But hey, Bob’s not telling you what to do anymore, right? Problem solved.

Try to make them be you-know-who

You’re writing along with your characters, Hannah and Tristan. And you suddenly realize: They’re not enough like Ana and Christian. You even tried with the names, but they’re just not acting like them, all shaky and socially inept or angsty and tormented. Doesn’t matter that the story is going along just fine, that it’s looking pretty interesting, or that they’re developing their own personalities. No, they’re just not similar enough to the characters in your favorite book. They’re not Bella and Edward enough. And your character Jackson isn’t enough like Jacob.

They must change. They must conform or perish. So you kill one of them off and then get another one in there that’s more Christian- or Edward-like. Congratulations. You’ve just written someone else’s book.

Ignore them

Let me just tell you right now, Vittorio Vincenzo Moretti Cabrizzi aka Victor Vincent Walters is not ABOUT to be ignored. The guy just won’t have it, and if you know anything about him, you know that if he intends to be noticed, he will be, no way around it. Besides, with his size and looks, ignoring him is pretty much impossible anyway. Antonio Luigi Walters is accustomed to being the authority figure in his circle, and he earned that position with intelligence, hard work, and wisdom born of years of struggle. He has no intention of being ignored, and you can ask his little wife, Nicolette Renee Wallace Wilkes Walters, about that. She’ll tell you that ignoring him is as easy as shoving a chimpanzee into a shoebox. Just isn’t going to happen. But if I ignored Vic or Tony long enough, know what they’d do? They’d leave, that’s what they’d do. Your muses will too. If you ignore them, they’ll find another fertile field to plant in, and it won’t be yours. Try making a plot without them.

Oh yeah. You have. Forget I said that. How’d that work for you?

Just generally don’t like them

This is the one that will really kill them off. They’ll leave and they’ll never come back. Ready?
Dislike them. Hate them, really. They’ll disappear because, as Steffen says in Unforgettable You, everyone just wants to be loved.

See, here’s the thing. We talked about this in a panel on which I sat that dealt with villains. If you want an effective villain, one that will really, really grip the reader and leave them torn, conflicted, and basically invested up to their earlobes in the story, make that villain a despicable person with a conflicted, tormented heart that lets you know that even they have some redeeming quality. It may be insignificant, but there’s something there, some little spark of humanity, that they can’t deny or deal with. They’re the person the reader hates but, at the same time, wants desperately to love because the reader sees that soft little underbelly and wants to stroke it to make that villain even just a little less tormented. The reader wants to like them; can’t, but wants to.

So do it. Hate your characters. Give them absolutely no redeeming value. Make them the most emotionally devoid, painstakingly cruel entity on the planet. Let them be someone who meets with a fate worse than death because you can’t stand them.

I didn’t like Steve very much when I started writing him into the Love Under Construction series. He seemed to be a loathsome individual. But know what I found as I went along? Steve had his own story, his own, sad, sweet, hurtful story, and I owed it to him to give him that opportunity to redeem himself by letting everyone see that soft, warm, vulnerable side of him. If I hadn’t done that? If you don’t do that?

Don’t be surprised if, halfway through the story, that muse bails on you. When they realize that you don’t like them and won’t give them even the tiniest break, just the smallest crumb of sympathy, they’ll disappear. You won’t hear from them again. But you’ll have to find another villain, because that muse has evaporated before your eyes.

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There. See? It’s not so hard to kill off your muses. Writers do that every day. I know, because I’ve accidentally gotten hold of some of their books. You’ll know one when you read it. It’s the one you can’t finish, the one that tells you you’ll never buy another of that author’s books.

Trust me, Mr. or Miss Author Person, that dance you do with your muse will be the most important one of your life. And believe you me, if Tony, or Vic, or Clint or Steffen or Dave show up in the night and want to dance with me?

I’m going to open up this laptop and dance until I drop. And then I'll be excited to see where they take me next. Frankly, I trust them a lot more than I trust myself. Without them, there'd be no story. And that story? That's everything.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stop embarrassing yourself

Here I go again, about to step in it up to my earlobes. I seem to do that often, and it’s just something I do naturally, so I don’t care anymore. It’s a comfortable place to be. Some of you are going to be furious with me when I finish this, so just bear with me and you’ll understand why I’m saying what I’m about to say.

Some of my fellow authors have recently lamented the Kindle Select Program’s cheapening of the marketplace. I understand their concern, truly, I do. It’s making it very difficult for them to compete in the marketplace. I realize this, and I apologize – a little. But for authors like me who are lesser known and still trying to make a place in the market for their work, it’s great exposure to the masses.

But there’s another factor upon which I touched last week in my blog post, and so today I’m going to expand on it a little. Okay, a lot. Humor me. It is the influx of “authors” these days due to the availability of the ability to publish. And the influx is massive. It’s less like an influx and far more like an invasion. But there’s a distinct difference in these authors. What’s the difference, you ask?

It’s that a great many of them shouldn’t be publishing anything. Period.



“Well, freedom of speech and my rights and blah, blah, blah!” the invasion cries. “Who are you to tell us whether or not we should publish, you erudite word master prone to snobbery!” The answer is apparently that I think I have a little knowledge in that arena and I might possibly be able to advise you. So let me try.

But wait: The new invasion of “authors” would never use those words, you know, like erudite, because, quite frankly, they have no idea what that means. And I don’t think a one of them owns a dictionary.

You see, here’s the thing. I have this mental block when it comes to “sensual” and “sensuous.” And when I get ready to use one, what do I do?

I look it up.

That’s right, folks, I’ve been doing this since I was eight years old, and I do still own a dictionary. I don’t use just the online version; I actually own a paper and cardboard dictionary, an orange one with the name of the dictionary on the spine. Really. And it gets used – often.

So yes, I know the difference between the following words:

your, you’re;
there, their, they’re;
it, it’s;
to, too, two;
bare, bear;
peak, peek, pique.

Oh, there are so many more that I see misused on a daily basis. Kills me, it really does. All you have to do is look them up. And that’s the problem.

Today’s “authors” don’t even know they should. They actually think they’re using the words correctly, or they don’t care (because they’re in such a rush to hit “publish”), or they don’t think it matters. They have such a poor grasp of the English language that they don’t know there’s another (correct) word available. Sad, really, but it’s the truth.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Unless you made straight As in high school English (and they give those loosely these days, let me tell you), please, PLEASE do not publish a book unless you can afford the $4,500.00 for a professional editor, and if you hire one, make sure that their English skills are better than yours. I know that’s difficult, since you don’t have a standard to even work with, but try. Please try.

And here’s a novel approach: Read a novel. I mean, read. Do you even read books? Do you know what good writing looks like? Check out Barbara Kingsolver, Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King, John Grisham, Sue Monk Kidd, and their fellow authors. If you can read their work and then read yours and still not see the difference, for god’s sake, shut off your computer and go knit. Or something.
Before you think I’m just a snob or I’m being mean and petty, let me tell you why I’m saying all of this. And it’s not what you think.

It’s because you’re embarrassing yourself.

You really are. You’re putting out a substandard work for which you’re neither trained nor prepared. Worse yet, you’re doing it proudly. Like a dog with a dingle berry on its butt, you’re strutting around as an “author,” doing author-like stuff, talking like an author (“Oh, let me pass this on to my PA”), and generally trying to be a part of the publishing community. And you can be, because there are plenty of other authors just like you out there, dashing something down, halfway formatting it, slapping a five dollar cover on it, hitting publish, and THEN editing it for six months and re-releasing it and re-releasing it and re-releasing it, and really not doing much to it. Maybe you’re even changing the plot in those re-releases. That’s a new book – you do realize that, right? Why would you release something that’s not finished? That’s like mixing up cake batter, pouring it in a pan, and taking it, unbaked, to a family dinner and being disappointed when it didn’t receive “critical acclaim.” You think it should?

You don’t realize it, but authors like me and my fellow word slaves are looking at your work. We’re either reading it because one of our readers has made some comment about how horrible it is, or we happen on it accidentally and throw up in our mouths a little when we read it. Do you realize you get whispered about? Do you know that you get laughed at? Well, you do. It isn’t pretty. And it’s your own fault, it truly is.

But what happens next is the real travesty. When you do that, when you turn out something that isn’t finished, or has mistakes all through it, or reads like a first grade reader, you’ve just added one more substandard work to the growing pool of substandard work out there. Oh, yes, part of this is because it’s so fun to be an author, so romantic and exciting and all that crapola. So let me clue you in on the romance and excitement of being an author who puts out polished, professional work.

Fifty edits. That’s what we estimate my works undergoes – fifty edits. It gets checked for all of the following: proper word usage; spelling; punctuation; plot continuity; inconsistencies in the plot, characters, setting, and anything else where it could be a problem; non-breaking spaces between titles (Mr., Mrs., Dr.) and the first names of the characters, or between the title and the last names of the characters if the first name isn’t used, or between first and last names if there are no titles; non-breaking spaces between ellipses (do you know what those are?), except for the last one in a string followed by more narration/dialogue; non-breaking spaces between a word and an em- or en-dash following it (but not behind the dash, and I assume you know what those are, right?); correct chapter presentation; and generally anything else that could possibly be wrong, including the front and back matter (there’s a couple more of those technical terms).

Wait – you do know what a non-breaking space is, right? And where to find one in your word processing program?

Then it goes to a professional formatter. That’s not terribly expensive, but it’s necessary. It makes the difference between finding a chapter starting on its own page, or finding a chapter starting halfway down a page. And yes, there is a way to keep that from happening. No, I will not share. Get a formatter. Please.

And a cover artist. Holy shit balls, I’ve seen some of the worst crap in the world on covers. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” only applies when you’re standing at the makeup counter at Macy’s. If it’s a real book, and you’re not speaking metaphorically, then yes, they do get judged that way, so make it look professional.

And now you’re saying, “But I don’t have that kind of money!” Know this: The ones of us doing this work seriously know that it’s a business. And starting and running a business takes money. Some of us are still hoping to break even. Many won’t ever, even though their work is pristine. Put the money into a good product. Please.

Now I hear you crying. I know, I know – you’ve got a great story in you. Doesn’t everyone? If you sit around long enough, you can come up with a story that seems like the best one since JK Rowling set down that pen and went to town. Written down on paper, meh. Maybe it’s good; maybe not. So let me give you some encouragement.

Write it. Yes, that’s what I said: Write it. Then publish it on Lulu or Snapfish or someplace like that. Take it to your family get-togethers, see if your aunties and cousins will buy a copy. Take it to a festival in your town, pay for a booth (yes, they cost money), set up a table, and put a stack out there. See if you have any interest. And ask for feedback – honest feedback. Yes, I know it’s like putting yourself out there naked on the corner of First and Main and hoping everyone likes what they see. It’s painful. Often, your work will be less eagerly received than if you twerked on the front lawn of the church on Sunday morning. That should be a sign to you.

After all of that, if you still believe in that story, or your writing, or what your five fans (translation – your mom’s bridge friends and your hairdresser) said in the reviews you begged them to write, then do it. But don’t be like the guy I recently encountered, who sent me his story and asked me to read it and give him feedback. Here’s what happened.

I read it, and it was awful. Read more like an instruction manual than an erotic romance or erotica. I told him so. And he published it without doing a damn thing to it. Worse yet, I got a PM from him this week, telling me that he’s got a new book out and INSTRUCTING me to go to Amazon, buy it, and give him a good review. He didn’t ask, mind you; he TOLD me to do so. I’m guessing he did that to every friend he has on Facebook. Did I do it?

Hell no. I can pour sulfuric acid into my eyes without having to buy it on Amazon and give it a review, because that’s what some of the “books” out there today are like. Stop embarrassing yourself. Just because you can hit “publish” doesn’t mean you should. I’m going to hate myself for this, but if you want, send me a few pages and ask my opinion. Be prepared for the real deal, not a candy-coated version, because I’m tired of this shit and I’m ready to get real about it.

I should warn you, though, don’t do it if you’re going to cry or go out there and bad-mouth me. I can bad-mouth right back. If you do it, everyone will see your crappy work, because I’ll post it and point out the errors.

Then you’ll wish you were twerking naked on the lawn of the police station on Saturday during the annual catfish celebration. Unless you just don’t care. And that makes you part of the problem.


Editing by Mr. Deanndra, who is an avid reader and an all-around great guy (but not an English major).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Street team abuse - it's real

I want to start off by saying that I know I've been a little absent lately, but I've had to rethink my blog offerings, primarily the Wednesday posts.

When I started off with my Wednesday reads, I made it abundantly clear that they were NOT reviews; rather, they were books I read and appreciated for their uniqueness, writing skill level, storytelling, or subject matter, or just because I like a sappy love story. Shut up. They were never intended to be reviews, as I stated.

Problem is, I've been inundated by authors, agents, and publishers wanting me to review their books. Let me say it again: I'M NOT A REVIEWER. The purpose of this blog is to support my WRITING, not to provide every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there with a frickin' review. To all my author friends whose books I've showcased here, I was glad to do it. To the rest of you, it ain't happenin', so just cut it the hell out. I even had one who had the audacity to pursue me and then ask me what my qualifications were for reviewing. I'm guessing you're thinking, "I know what she said to that," and you'd be right.

So I'm going to showcase the books from series I've already started and possibly do others, but I'm not going to do them on any set time schedule. I'll do them when I do them. That's it - that's all. Sorry. In between you'll get more of my pithy, sarcastic, screw-you attitude - which I know you love.

And now on to the purpose for today's post.

I had a little come-apart earlier in the week and sent a rather lengthy post to my street team, basically asking them if I posted it, would I get kicked off Facebook. The response I got was positive and sad at the same time. So I'm asking you to read this and then post the link all over the place so EVERYONE sees it. This is a message to all the authors and street team members out there who need to hear it.

You see, I've been hearing rumblings all over, and I mean ALL OVER. So here are some of the things I've heard.

I'm on a street team where we have to post ten times a day or we get kicked off.

They made me fill out an application to be on the street team and said, "We'll get back to you." And they never did.

I had to take time off for a family crisis, and I explained it to them and apologized. When it was resolved, I asked to come back to the team. They didn't want me back.

I'm being treated like shit in the street team I'm on because I'm on more than one street team.

According to them (other ST members, admins, or the author), if I'm on more than one street team, I'm being "unfaithful" to the author.

I'm being told that I can't be on this or that authors' street teams by the street team I'm on because that author doesn't like the other authors.

They've got a limit of five (six, three, etc.) street teams that I can be on, and it's a requirement that they're all in the same genres (or the same thing but all different genres).

The author wants me to have his/her tee-shirts, caps, swag, etc., but I'm expected to buy it.

So now I've got a little question for my author buddies out there. It's a simple one, really.

JUST WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

I mean, really? Here's an idea: Dock their pay. Take away their benefits. Cut back on their sick days and holidays, or cut out holiday pay altogether. Isn't that what an employer does?

Wait? You're not paying them? What do you mean, you're not paying them?

Get this now and get it straight: THESE PEOPLE DON'T OWE YOU A DAMN THING. They're doing what they're doing out of the goodness of their hearts because maybe they like you, or they like your books, or you said something clever on a Facebook post once and it made them laugh, or their best friend is on your street team, or your name is their dog's name too. Whatever. Doesn't matter what the reason - YOU'RE NOT PAYING THEM. You have ZERO right to impose any rules on them. No, I take that back: You do have the right to either deny them membership or to remove them from membership if they can't behave in a professional manner or if they are doing something illegal or immoral, such as soliciting drugs from another street team member or using the street team as a hookup ground for cybersex. Not cool - not cool at all. Otherwise, get this through your head - you're not paying them. You have NO RIGHT to impose rules on them.

Are your books so damn spectacular that they should kiss your feet for writing them? Are you so damn special that they should be in awe of you and be glad that you'd even let them on your street team? Are you sure as hell not going to interact personally with them? What kind of narcissist are you? Are you really egotistical enough to believe that the occasional free book or sharing some of your own advertising material with them is compensation? Uh-oh - I just threw up in my mouth a little.

So let me clue you in on a little sumpin'-sumpin'. If you've been in the indie publishing game for three or four years, the playing field is being leveled as I type this. It's unlikely that you'll be getting those big checks anymore. Why? Because there are thousands of people hitting "publish" every day who shouldn't. Their work is crap, and some of them know it, but they're so in love with the idea of being an "author" that they're going to do it anyway, even if they know their work is shit. That puts them out there in the marketplace where YOU have to compete with them. Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners' Lending Library is making that more lucrative for them every day, and people who otherwise would never have sold a book are getting little chips off the Global Fund block for borrows. That's enough to encourage them to keep going. What that means for you, as a seasoned indie veteran, is that putting out a book every one and a half to two years is no longer going to be acceptable. Six months, and they've moved on to another author. Some of our readership doesn't have a lot of discretion, so they'll read crap and think it's wonderful. And you've lost a reader. (Don't tell me you don't care about those people because they don't know good books when they read them. If everyone like that quit buying your books, you'd have to get a job at a convenience store, and you know it.)

Street teams were intended to fill in that gap between the author and the readers out there who've never heard of them. Anyone who knows anything about business - and a lot of you really don't - knows that advertising is the number one biggest expense any business has. Street teams are a cheap, fast, effective way to do some advertising when you don't really have any cash flow.

So why in the world wouldn't you be kissing your street team's collective asses? You certainly should be. They're doing you a favor, dumbass. They're working for you when they'd rather be reading (maybe even someone else's books), or shopping, or watching TV, or any of a number of things, but instead, they're in there glued to the computer screen, pimping as fast as they can go (and sometimes getting put in Facebook jail, right, Tabby?), talking you up to anyone who'll listen, and offering to leave swag all over their town to get people to notice you. And for some unfathomable reason, you think they should reach a daily "quota" of work for you, or buy your swag at ungodly prices, or sequester themselves in your street team and your street team alone (insecure or jealous, are we?), and work like a sonofabitch for you while you watch them in your notification boxes and pat yourself on the back. What the hell?

Don't get me wrong - I know many of us can't afford to pay a street team, and I know I certainly can't. But if I'm not paying them, I don't have the right to impose ANY requirements on them. None.

So here's the deal. I love my street team. The ladies on there will tell you it's more like a family than a street team. I get messages from some of them saying they're going through a hard time and they'll be absent for awhile. I always tell them family first, and I mean that. Yeah, I've got a few I haven't heard from in ages, even though I've tried to contact them. That's okay. Their name on my membership roster isn't costing me money, so what difference does it make? I try to remember their birthdays and when they're having surgery and if they or one of their children has a chronic illness, and I try to be supportive. God knows my memory is crap, but I try, I really do, and I think they'll tell you that I do.

Street team members, if you're not being treated that way, or at least with some respect, GET THE HELL OUT OF THAT STREET TEAM. No author should use and abuse street team members, and if you're in that situation, tell them to go fuck themselves and get out. Want a street team to go to?

Come to mine. I guarantee it's a fun, friendly, family-type place to be where you can promote me to your heart's content, even if that just means one day a week, or maybe once a month. I'm not picky. I'm not paying you. I'll take whatever time you can offer me and be thankful for it.

You authors out there with your noses up in the air, you should probably get yourself an attitude of gratitude and thank your lucky stars that you've been as successful and popular as you have been, because the times, they are a-changin'. In a few months, you may just need those street team members. If you keep abusing them and their time, they may not be there when that happens. It'll be a painful lesson.

So to my street team, I love you guys and appreciate every little thing you do for me. My goal in life is to write great books and live up to your expectations. If I fall down, I expect you to tell me, and to know that I don't blame you. And if I'm successful, it will be because of you, so I thank you in advance.

And authors, if you think I'm talking about you, I probably am. So think about why that might be and go thank your street team RIGHT NOW before they all come over to the dark side to have cookies with me. I serve tequila shooters and craft beer too. Yeah, that's right - I'm way more fun than you are.