Archive by Author

Passionflix Is Making Dreams Come True

23 Jun

by Elizabeth SaFleur

Can I get an Amen? Finally someone is bringing the Wild World of Romance to the Big Screen. Passionflix, which had the RT Booklovers Convention all abuzz about its fall launch, is a brand spanking new movie studio and streaming platform (think Netflix) dedicated to turning romance novels into movies and series. AMEN!

Don’t get me wrong, Armageddon is a favorite film. But sometimes you just want a movie where the romance is the thing and not relegated to a subplot to make you care more about the characters. Sometimes (okay, most of the time), you want the point of the movie to be love, passion and romance–one that will engage your whole heart and have you jumping, weeping and shouting for joy. Like Moonstruck, my all-time favorite.

Passionflix will stream not only the romance classics we love (Pride & Prejudice to Love Actually), but will produce original films of our favorite books. They’ll start with a few and move up to more than 20 original movies in a single year. We’re talking original filming my friends. Original.  In September, the first movie to debut by Passionflix is Alessandra Torre’s Hollywood Dirt. Check out the movie teaser here! (It’s good.)

We stalked talked to the folks at Passionflix (all women – double love!) to find out more.

[[Editorial Note: the Passionflix Great Minds include TOSCA MUSK, an award-winning producer of over 20 feature films, television movies and web content; JINA PANEBIANCO, an award winning, motivated and creative film & television producer, and JOANY KANE who has sold 12 screenplays and to date has had 9 movies made.]]

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: We’re so happy you’re here! We’ve been waiting for a Passionflix to enter our lives. Okay, tell us. Whose great idea was this? Do you have a brainstorm note on a napkin stained with spilled margaritas somewhere?

PASSIONFLIX: Haha! Tuna fish sandwiches sound a lot less sexy than margaritas, but yes, that’s almost exactly how Passionflix was born. After the huge success of Fifty Shades, Joany, an Emmy nominated screenwriter, had the innovative idea of bringing more romance novels to life, translating them to screen in movies and series.

Joany’s passion drove her to Los Angeles where we met for lunch and immediately jumped on the idea. We [Passionflix Founders] are all romance readers and crave more of the female gaze and there’s not enough content out there that focuses on women and what women want. We want to change that.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Thank goodness. I’m surprised no one has thought of this before! The romance genre has proven “staying” power. It’s the second best-selling book genre, worldwide and has been for a while. How much has this played into the development of Passionflix?

PASSIONFLIX: Romance readers are ravenous and as we said previously, there’s just not enough content for women out there in film or TV.  We’re passionate about romance, and empowering women through emotional strength and will provide content that encompasses both heartfelt and sexy, from all genres.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Speaking of genres, where do you draw the line regarding heat level? Can you give us something that you would film and something you wouldn’t?

PASSIONFLIX: We will stay as close to what’s on the page as possible. We know readers have favorite scenes they’re desperate to see on screen, and we want to give them that. Colton Donavan and Rylee Thomas in K. Bromberg’s Driven Series sneaking away to have sex on top of a car named SEX? Movie magic. *winks*

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Hate to drill down, but …. how high will your barometer of naughtiness go?

PASSIONFLIX: The Passionflix naughtiness barometer will go to a five. What does a five mean to you?

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: On a scale of one to five, a five would be the bedroom door is wide open and you see everything. But if we’re talking on a scale of one to 10, well, the door is open but we’ll see lots of shadows covering up the naughty bits. LOL  Let’s get off sex for a second. Are there any stories overall you’re seeking? Like M/M or multi-cultural, and will you actively seek those?

PASSIONFLIX: Absolutely. Passionflix is currently seeking diverse romance. We have optioned Brenda Jackson’s Grangers Series and cannot wait to get started on that project. We loved meeting her at RT this year and hearing about her passion for romance, and the characters she creates leap off the pages right into your heart!

We are also reading a few M/M novels and series and look forward to creating content that features compelling characters from all genres.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So once you have a story selected, how much input do authors have in the creative process? You know how romance fans are! They view characters and stories as “sacred” …

PASSIONFLIX: The authors are involved in every step of the process from script development to casting. We will stay as close to the book as possible, and  strive to make both the author and the reader happy. As romance readers ourselves, we want to see the books, from page to the screen, come to life.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Great to know! So, how can an author (or reader) “pitch” you a story?

PASSIONFLIX:  We have been asked this question a lot, and we love that so many authors are interested in Passionflix and are passionate about our vision. We do take submissions from authors or agents, and we ask that they email submssions@passionflix.com and to be please patient with us, as our ‘to be read’ lists are piling up.  (YAY!)  We have heard from hundreds of readers via our social media pages and they love to let us know who they’re reading and which book boyfriend they’re falling in love with. We’re so grateful for their excitement and support.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Thank you Passionflix. We wish you every success. #PassionIsComing this September. Get ready, romance readers.

Sign up now and become a Passionflix founding member, or early subscriber HERE. Passionflix Founding Members receive:

★ A 2-year subscription (with a 30% Savings)
★ Voting Privileges on ‘Casting Your Book Boyfriend’, an exclusive reality show to find the next Passionflix leading man
★ An invitation for a walk on role in a Passionflix production
★ Discounts on Passionflix merchandise
★ Exclusive sneak peeks and casting information via The Passionflix Founding Members Lounge on Facebook.

Passionflix Love Links:

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Website 

HEY ROMANCE LOVERS, what book do YOU want Passionflix to consider to make into a movie?
Romance titles only, please – any heat level. Let us know in the comments.

Romance, Intrigue, Bondage! Sexy Snippet from Lucky

4 Jun

by Elizabeth SaFleur

Today’s Sexy Excerpt comes from Lucky, an Elite Doms of Washington book. Expect intrigue, romance and BDSM elements in this series that shows not all power in D.C. is wielded by politicians.

Lucky is the fourth story in the series, but each book is a stand-alone with no cliff-hangers.

About the story

When a man tells you who he is believe him.

Wealthy entertainment investor and resolute bachelor Derek Damon Wright learned at a young age women were trouble. He’s unprepared for dancer Samantha Rose who walks into his thirteenth, Washington DC nightclub opening with an authenticity and passion for life that quickly rocks his jaded, albeit privileged, world.

Samantha, an aerial artist and dance studio owner, hasn’t been lucky in love, and falling for the charismatic and Dominant Derek won’t draw her closer to her greatest dream of  having a baby. Yet she’s helpless to resist his charm and sophisticated world of private jets, Caribbean islands and the sexual pleasures of dominance and submission.

As their whirlwind romance progresses, past mistakes rise up to threaten their future. Only when they rely on each other for safe haven do they find the answer to their dreams.

~~~ Excerpt ~~~

With deft fingers, he lowered her zipper. The faint zlip was the only sound to accompany the tick-tock of the clock on the sideboard credenza.

Straps fell over her shoulders followed by her dress falling to the ground. The scratch over her belly awoke something inside her. She turned so she could see his eyes, more gray when before they’d been blue-green.

Freed from the armor of her dress, everything about him seemed larger than she recalled. His height was greater, his shoulders broader. The pronounced angles in his face drew more elegant lines than she’d appreciated earlier. Even that gentlemanly vibe he threw off was grander.

On the drive home, she had tried to talk herself out of going any further with him.

She’d listed what little she knew about Derek Wright: kind but direct, confident but with unsettled eyes, normal yet breathed the rarefied air of a privileged world.

In the car, she came down to one reason to be here with him, right now, like this, with her dress puddled at her feet. She wanted to be.

His hands reached around her ribcage. His eyes never left her face as he unsnapped her bra with one hand.

“Wow.” She hadn’t meant to say it aloud. But his bra removal skill, and resulting smirk from her remark, said he probably could do many other things with those hands. She was going to find out. Her bra made a soft slap as it hit the ground.

When his gaze locked on the sight of her bare breasts, a deluge of feminine power solidified her earlier decision.

He would honestly appreciate her. Respect wasn’t anything she’d thought of before, not really. What a mistake, because now as she stood before a man who honored her thoughts and feelings, respect was all she could think of.

“Wow, indeed.” He reseated her on the table. He leaned his hands on either side of her legs and gazed down at her intently for one, endless minute.

“You like?” she asked.

He grasped her ass and yanked her to the edge so her crotch connected with his. “I like.”

So did she, because now she knew his size. Cindy would have been impressed.

His hands cradled her face. As his fingers massaged the back of her skull, his eyes roamed over every inch of her heated cheeks.

“Do you like surprises?” he asked. “Cameras notwithstanding.”

“Love them.”

“Good. This one time I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do. Next time, I won’t.”

There was going to be a next time? “Okay.”

“First, I’m going to kiss you so hard you’ll lose your ability to stand. You’ll be short of breath. Your world will become my mouth.”

Good start.

“Then I’m going to rip that thong off you. I’ll send something tomorrow to replace it. But only so I can rip it off again because I know one thing, Samantha Rose.”

“What?” she breathed.

“Once I’m inside you, I’m going to want to be there all the time. Deep inside.” On his last words, he ground his pelvis against her now soaked panties.

Yes, please.

His mouth came down on hers. He did rude things with his lips and tongue. True to his word, she was breathless by the time he stopped.

His fingers wound their way through her hair and pulled her head back gently but with intention. The fingers of his other hand slipped into her thong and he yanked–hard. A thrill ran through her whole body at a telltale ripping sound—until the tear stopped. Stupid lycra material. She wanted the fabric to be shredded so he could ravage her like he’d promised.

He chuckled slightly. “Best laid plans . . .”

She choked back a return laugh when he whisked her panties down her legs in a nanosecond. Being stripped of her dress and exposed to him fully, touched a vulnerable place inside her, as if her earlier courage lay in a heap at her feet along with her dress.

“Hey, no fair. I’m naked and you’re not.”

He fisted her hair a little tighter. “We’ll get there.”

“When?” The lights were bright in the kitchen.

“You would be fun to tie up.”

Her mind’s eye wrapped her in a series of rope patterns. She could almost feel the itch. She licked her lips. “Okay.”

His eyes narrowed a bit. “Into bondage, are we?”

“Maybe.” She’d be into anything this man was into because her insides were ready to explode.

“Too bad we don’t have some of that parachute silk here. I could wrap them around these . . .” He regarded one leg. “. . . incredibly luscious legs and keep them still. Though I’d rather like seeing you come undone.” The vision of all the positions he could put them into tumbled into her mind. Yes, please.

He brought his lips and hot breath close to her ear. “And once I have you bound and helpless, how should I take you? Missionary? From behind? Against the wall?” He pulled back to face her. “Or all ways?”

She inched her legs further apart, and nodded.

~~~~~

Derek dropped his hold on her hair and stepped backward. This woman was too good to be true.

Was she fishing for his sexual proclivities? Nothing about her spoke of seeking gossip or blackmail material, and she appeared quite sensitive to that possibility for herself. He dismissed his suspicions.

Was he being careless? Probably. He didn’t care. His cock overruled any over-thinking on that front. He had to be inside this woman. Now.

He supposed he should have stopped to further assess her scene play experience, but where would she have encountered kink? In some kid’s shared apartment with play toy handcuffs and a tickler?

That conversation would come later—and there would be a later. He was certain of that fact given the saucy curiosity he read on her face.

Her inexperience demanding to be overturned intrigued him. She’d called him a gentleman. He was. When shown a door, he’d been taught to open it.

For him, she was a place he hadn’t yet visited or a fantastic book he hadn’t yet read. So much to discover, and not only because she was uncharted territory for him. He got to be new to her.

He unbuckled his belt. After zipping it through the loops, he doubled it in his hand and waited. He assessed her breathing, where her eyes landed, what she did with her hands—all signs of whether she was turned on or scared.

The hungry look in her eyes and her pink tongue reaching out to touch her lip strengthened his resolve to keep going. He wasn’t yet sure if she fueled his dominance on purpose or by accident.

He laid the belt next to her. She didn’t flinch when the leather touched her thigh.

After peeling off his jacket and casually draping it over one of the chairs, he rolled up his shirtsleeves. He stopped her hands from reaching out to touch him.

“No helping, ballerina. Hands back by your sides. Palms on the table.” He purposefully increased the volume of his voice for effect. Her delicious pout made his mouth water. Such beautiful lips.

“You’re going to help me in other ways. In fact . . .” He lowered his zipper. “. . . in many, other ways.”

~~~~~

Lucky is now available for pre-order (discounted). Release date: June 15, 2017!

~~~~~

Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it  — “it” being the sex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington. Join her Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty exclusive reader’s group or follow her on Bookbub and Amazon.

 

For the Love of the M/M Erotic Romance Genre

26 May

by Elizabeth SaFleur

My first Male-Male (M/M) erotic romance was Joey W. Hill’s Rough Canvas. The story of Thomas and Marcus will always have a place in my heart, and not just because the story is hot as Hades. At some point in the story, I lost sight of the character’s gender and simply relished in their journey. This book proves #LoveIsLove and started my quest for more M/M stories.

When his father dies, Thomas is forced to abandon a burgeoning art career in New York. As difficult as it was to give up his lifelong dream, it’s nothing next to walking away from the man he loves. Marcus taught him to embrace who he is, a sexual submissive who responds to the touch of only one Master. But why would the sophisticated Marcus need some farm kid from the South?

Then Marcus shows up and offers him a way to continue his art career and help his family. There’s only one hitch – he asks Thomas to spend a week with him in the Berkshires. Thomas knows he should refuse. But he’s never been able to say no to his Master.

But, somewhere along the lines, life took over and I didn’t pick up another M/M for some time. This isn’t because I didn’t want to, just chalk up my lack of M/M reading to general life overwhelm.

So, I asked a large Facebook group with a lot of M/M erotic romance lovers this question: What is the one book someone should read when seeking to explore the M/M erotic romance for the first time? Below are few names that came up a lot. I mean, a lot-a lot.

I haven’t read these titles yet, but they’ve been added to my TBR pile.

  1. Cambria Hebert. Her books Rev and Blur were named, specifically.

Trent Mask puts the REV in revolution.

A line has been drawn.
Indie vs Pro
Here at GearShark, we’re straddling that line to bring you exclusive coverage of what some have dubbed the war of racing.
Every war starts with a spark and ends in revolution.
Drew Forrester was the spark,
but his second-in-command is the REVolution.
What does it take to stand brave in the face of opposition?
Resolve of steel…
Stubborn will…
And a heart that refuses to give up.
It isn’t just the drivers in this war.
The revolution is about more than just racing.
It’s about shattering labels and taking risks.
So we asked Trent Mask: Truth or Dare?
His answer?
Both.

  1. Kindle Alexander. Specifically, Always. Given how many awards it’s received, no wonder! 

Favorite All-Time M/M Romance 2015 Member Choice Awards Goodreads
Book of the Year 2014 Member Choice Awards Goodreads MM Romance
Book of the Year 2014 Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews
LGBT Book of the Year 2015 eLit Awards

Born to a prestigious political family, Avery Adams plays as hard as he works. The gorgeous, charismatic attorney is used to getting what he wants, even the frequent one-night stands that earn him his well-deserved playboy reputation. When some of the most prominent men in politics suggest he run for senate, Avery decides the time has come to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. With a strategy in place and the campaign wheels rolling, Avery is ready to jump on the legislative fast track, full steam ahead. But no amount of planning prepares him for the handsome, uptight restaurateur who might derail his political future.

Easy isn’t even in the top thousand words to describe Kane Dalton’s life after his father, a devout Southern Baptist minister, kicks him out of the family home for questioning his sexual orientation. Despite all the rotten tomatoes life throws his way, Kane makes something of himself. Between owning a thriving upscale Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown Minneapolis and managing his long-term boyfriend, his plate is full. He struggles to get past the teachings of his childhood to fully accept his sexuality and rid himself of the doubts brought on by his religious upbringing. The last thing he needs is the yummy, sophisticated, blond-haired distraction sitting at table thirty-four.

3. Sloane Kennedy – Her Protectors series was recommended.

 But what I felt most was the perfection of what these two men were giving me. And I knew in that moment that I would do anything to keep it. Anything. –Cole

After four years abroad, artist Jonas Davenport has come home to start building his dream of owning his own art studio and gallery. But just as he’s ready to put the darkness of his past behind him forever, it comes roaring back with a vengeance.

The only thing keeping ex-cop Mace Calhoun from eating his own gun after an unthinkable loss is his role in an underground syndicate that seeks to get justice for the innocent by taking the lives of the guilty. Ending the life of the young artist who committed unspeakable crimes against the most vulnerable of victims should have been the easiest thing in the world. So why can’t he bring himself to pull the trigger?

After years of fighting in an endless, soul-sucking war, Navy SEAL Cole Bridgerton has come home to fight another battle – dealing with the discovery that the younger sister who ran away from home eight years earlier is lost to him forever. He needs answers and the only person who can give them to him is a young man struggling to put his life back together. But he never expected to feel something more for the haunted artist.

Cole and Mace. One lives by the rules, the other makes his own. One seeks justice through the law while the other seeks it with his gun. Two men, one light, one dark, will find themselves and each other when they’re forced to stand side by side to protect Jonas from an unseen evil that will stop at nothing to silence the young artist forever.

But each man’s scars run deep and even the strength of three may not be enough to save them…

4. Mary Calmes. This cover and title alone begged for one-clicking.

Deputy US Marshal Miro Jones has a reputation for being calm and collected under fire. These traits serve him well with his hotshot partner, Ian Doyle, the kind of guy who can start a fight in an empty room. In the past three years of their life-and-death job, they’ve gone from strangers to professional coworkers to devoted teammates and best friends. Miro’s cultivated blind faith in the man who has his back… faith and something more.

As a marshal and a soldier, Ian’s expected to lead. But the power and control that brings Ian success and fulfillment in the field isn’t working anywhere else. Ian’s always resisted all kinds of tied down, but having no home—and no one to come home to—is slowly eating him up inside. Over time, Ian has grudgingly accepted that going anywhere without his partner simply doesn’t work. Now Miro just has to convince him that getting tangled up in heartstrings isn’t being tied down at all.

5. Riley Hart. Yes, please.

Oliver Hayes wears his heart on his sleeve, and his friends never let him forget it. Every Friday night spent at Wild Side, their favorite West Hollywood bar, Oliver’s lack of hookups becomes the hot topic. It’s not that he doesn’t want a good time. He just wants it to mean something, which is a lofty goal when he’s still pining after his childhood crush, Matt, who left ten years ago to start a new life in New York City.

Matt Daniels has always felt most at home seated at a piano. He might not have entirely fit in with his family and friends, but he was always able to find himself in music. Or at least he did before he gave up his dream a lifetime ago. Now, he has a successful modeling career and should be enjoying every second of it. Yet nothing feels right, and Matt fears he’s losing himself.

Just when Oliver decides to get over Matt for good, Matt waltzes back into LA. As Matt struggles to understand what he’s missing in his seemingly perfect life, he falls right back into leaning on Oliver for support. Things aren’t what they used to be between them, though. They tumble into bed together, and it’s hard not to continue ending up there. For the first time in years, Matt’s inspired to compose again, reigniting a spark he thought long extinguished.

But as always, Oliver can’t keep his heart in check, and soon Matt realizes he’s gone for Oliver too. The biggest question is, can he fully give himself to someone if he still hasn’t figured out how to love himself?

6. Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. Mmmmm….

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions-
can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

~~~~~

In no way is this the definitive list.  But it’s a start! As usual, I thought it would be easy to identify. Not so. Many great authors who write in the M/M genre exist. Other authors whose names were raised by our “non-scientific but can-totally-be-trusted” group are listed below. Many of these authors write both M/F and M/M, are best-sellers and have won awards. But they most definitely won reader’s hearts as their names were raised as “must-read.”

Alanea Alder
Kris Michaels
Lucy Lennox
JJ Harper
Annabeth Albert
Felice Stevens
Seth King
Golden Czermak
Ella Frank
Nicole Edwards
Amy Lane
Rhys Ford
TJ Klune
Damon Suede
Aimee Nicole Walker
AE Via
Amber Kell
Cardeno C.
Carol Lynne
Kele Moon
Annabella Michaels
Faith Gibson
Aria Grace
Devon McCormack
Samantha A. Cole
Lucy Lennox

Let us know what you think. Do you have a favorite M/M book we should know about? Hit us up in the comments so we all may grow our TBR mountains.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it  — “it” being the sex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington. Join her Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty exclusive reader’s group or follow her on Bookbub and Amazon.

Check out her latest book, LUCKY, where our heroine learns
when a man tell you who he is, believe him.

Are You Feeling Lucky?

22 May

The Latest in D.C. Discipline Has Arrived

~~~ COVER REVEAL ~~~ PRE-ORDER ~~~

Discounted price of $2.99 until release date of

June 15, 2017!

I Want A Hot, Devoted, Skilled Soldier Lover and It’s All Susan Stoker’s Fault

28 Apr

by Elizabeth SaFleur

A new Susan Stoker book release generally sends her fans into hyper-ventilating excitement. So, everyone have your paper bags ready. Her fifth Delta Force Heroes book, Rescuing Kassie (Delta Force Heroes), arrives May 15 and is now on pre-order. Let the one-clicking commence.

Romantic suspense is a popular genre in Romancelandia, and Susan’s books have kept fan swooning over SEALs, Delta Force operatives, soldiers, cops and cowboys for the last few years. A prolific writer (i.e. almost the definition of prolific), Susan has several series available in e-book, paperback and audio, not to mention titles landing on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller lists–more than once.

Susan stopped by LadySmut today to share her thoughts on the enduring love of men in uniform and what’s next for her hot heroes and strong heroines, and gave us a peek into her latest, Rescuing Kassie, with a new excerpt (bottom of this post).

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Interview with Susan Stoker 

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: The romantic suspense genre seems to be growing, especially where military are involved. Do you think this is indicative of our world today, meaning it tracks with our fast, action-packed times?

SUSAN STOKER: I’m honestly not sure why it’s growing…I mean, I know why I write it and why I like to read it…men in uniform. 🙂 I simply think they make great Heroes because they’re ALREADY heroes. Who better to “save” someone, than a man in the military? But honestly, romantic suspense hits that “damsel in distress” trope that I think a lot of women enjoy. Just because we’re strong women in our everyday lives doesn’t mean we don’t think about being able to put our problems in someone else’s hands.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Amen. I mean, SEALS! SEALS! SEALS! Oh, sorry, I got a little excited there. In your Seals of Protection series, a lot of saving goes on. What is it about the SEAL hero? Why do women swoon? Is it really because they can get you out of any jam? All that alpha energy? Or the fact they are so selfless in their service? Or something else?

SUSAN STOKER: I think it’s the fantasy of the man in uniform saving someone. Mr. Stoker was in the Army for twenty-one years and we were married for seven of those, and I’ve certainly seen a lot of men (and women) who wouldn’t be able to find their way out of a paper bag nonetheless try to rescue someone else. LOL

I’m a huge fan of the damsel-in-distress trope, and who better to rescue you than a hot man in uniform? SEALs are appealing because they’re a little mysterious, andthey have to be super in shape because of what they do and to even become a SEAL in the first place. So to have them swoop down and carry off the heroine is just such a heart-swooning image.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Moving on to Delta force in your Delta Force Heroes series….I hear the Delta Force are the most secretive of the special ops world. I’m dying to know how you do your research! But, in the meantime, how do you differentiate your different special ops guys? SEALS from Delta? And is it important to do so?

SUSAN STOKER: I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

HA! Just kidding. You’re right, there’s not a lot of information about them, and that makes them even more mysterious and fun to imagine them swooping in to save the heroine.

My books aren’t really “military heavy.” And by that I mean a lot of time the drama that happens isn’t related to the military at all. The heroes just happen to be Delta Force (or a SEAL). But to answer your question, I differentiate them because of where they live and how they talk (using Army lingo). I believe that I don’t need to be super specific with guns, missions, uniforms, ranks, etc. It’s not necessary for the story. I let my reader use her/his imagination to fill in the blanks.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: In your Ace Security series, you have a band of brothers who launch an agency to help people free themselves from abuse. How did this series come about?

SUSAN STOKER: When I wrote Justice for Boone, the Hero was abused by his ex-girlfriend. There aren’t a lot of books out there where the male is the one being abused. But it happens. Just as I like to write about “real” issues out in the world, men being abused is one such issue. It’s just not talked about as much as women being abused.

As far as ideas, I watch a lot of crime shows. I’m totally addicted. Disappeared, Forensic Files, CSI, Criminal Minds, etc. are all great places to get a nugget, and then my imagination makes up the rest.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: In your Badge of Honor series, you turned to cowboys and law enforcement. What called you to write those kind of heroes? How are they different from your SEALs, Ace and Delta Force guys?

SUSAN STOKER:  Man in uniform…need I say more? 🙂 Seriously, again, it’s the saving the heroine thing. Who better to rush into a burning building and carry the heroine out than a fireman? Who better to save the heroine from a gun wielding lunatic, than a police officer? And honestly, they AREN’T a lot different. I always tell people, I could put my team of SEALs or Deltas in the BOH series and it wouldn’t be a lot different.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: You do the strong, selfless women with tragic backstories and the alpha males who find them really well. The women also seem quite supportive of one another. Do you take anything from your real world experiences and import them into your stories? And, what is it about this theme that attracts you as a writer?

SUSAN STOKER: I think close relationships with other women is something a lot of people are missing in their lives and it’s wonderful to read about close friendship circles like this. I know I would love to have a closer circle myself. I’ve moved a lot in my life and it seems as if those close friends have always been out of reach for me. So it’s a bit of “wishful thinking” on my part. 

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Your characters also deal with some dark stuff like abusive pasts, murder, trauma. Would you consider your books on the darker side or most realistic because that stuff happens in real life all the time?

SUSAN STOKER: I am very “mean” to my heroines. And I’m honest about that. A lot of it is fiction, but I also do that to show exactly how strong my heroines are. I mean, they take a beating (sometimes literally) and keep on going. I don’t really consider them “dark” because I don’t go into a ton of details with some of the situations, but again, women are living these kinds of life all over the world. So even though I write fiction, for many readers, it’s not.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Alabama, Mozart, Summer, Rayne. You have a lot of interesting character names! How do you go about naming your characters?

SUSAN STOKER: I definitely use websites for baby names, but I also stalk social media, too. The name Jessyka is actually one of my readers. As is Adeline. Sometimes I see a name and just love it so much I want to use it in my books. Other times the names just come to me. But if you are a friend of mine on social media, don’t be surprised if I steal your first or last name sometime. It’s the best place to “research.” Ha!

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: What is next for you, writing-wise? What can we expect in the future?

SUSAN STOKER: I’ve got a busy year planned, with a book coming out every month from May to December. Some are novellas, but most are full-length novels. You can expect more of the same in 2018. I like what I write, and I don’t have any plans to veer off in a different direction.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: What is your secret sauce for writing so many books so quickly? Asking for a friend….Seriously, you are so prolific. What is your writing process, and how long does it take you to go from idea to completion?

SUSAN STOKER: I can type really fast. 🙂  Okay, that’s not totally it, but I’m type A. Once I start a book, I get obsessed until I finish it. That means writing up to 7 to 10K words a day until it’s done. When I’m really into the story and it’s flowing well, I can manage to finish a full length book in two weeks. Then once I’m done, I don’t write anything for a couple of weeks…to let my brain re-fresh. Then I start again. I’m a pantser. I start out a book knowing how the characters meet and what the drama at 85% is going to be. Then I just start writing. My imagination takes over.

I also write “ahead.” Deadlines would never work for me. I have friends who can write a book right up to a deadline, but that’s not me. I’ve finished all the books coming out in 2017 (first drafts) and I’ll be starting on 2018 books soon.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: What is one questions readers ask you all the time? And what do you wish they ask?

SUSAN STOKER: What my favorite book/character is. I honestly don’t have one. I love all the stories and characters. I wouldn’t have been able to write the books if I didn’t.

I’m pretty open with my readers. They ask me stuff all the time and I can’t think of anything I didn’t want to answer. In fact, I probably give them TOO much info about upcoming books and plots sometimes. Ha.

But, how about, ”do you like what you do?”

Absolutely. I used to be a University Registar and not a day goes by when I miss it. There might be days where I struggle with writing, or marketing, or dealing with people, but when push comes to shove…I feel incredibly lucky to be able to make a living using my imagination and writing stories. I just want to say THANK YOU to every single person who has ever bought one of my books. It means the world.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Thanks for being here, Susan!

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The LadySmut Fast Lane

We ask, Susan Stoker tells….

  • Beach or Mountains? Mountains
  • Coffee, Tea or a favorite alcoholic drink? (you can name it) Midori Sour
  • Seal, Delta, Cowboy or Cop? (menage is a completely valid answer) Um…ALL of the above!
  • Driving the motorcycle or riding on the back? Riding on the back
  • Favorite season? Spring
  • Dream vacation? Maui, Hawaii

Susan’s Love Links:  Web site  Facebook  Twitter   

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Excerpt from Rescuing Kassie

After she nodded at each of the men, Truck said, “You ladies want some punch? I’m going to get a round.”

Kassie looked over to where the large man had indicated and flinched. She’d been looking for the grog bowl, and wasn’t sure how she’d missed it. On a long table against the opposite wall were two large punch bowls.

“I don’t want any grog,” Kassie blurted.

“Pardon?”

“Grog? Did she say grog?”

“What?”

The murmured questions came from Hollywood’s friends, but Kassie only had eyes for Hollywood. “I don’t know what I did wrong, but please don’t make me drink it.” She knew she was panicking, but couldn’t help it. The grog bowl was one thing she’d researched that was true about Richard’s farce of a military function.

“Kass—” Hollywood began, but she cut him off.

“I promise I’ll be good. I won’t embarrass you. Just don’t make me drink it. I’ll gag. I know I will. I just—”

“Kassie,” Hollywood said sternly, putting his hands on either side of her neck and forcing her to look up at him. “There isn’t a grog bowl here. It’s punch. Just punch.”

Her brows furrowed, Kassie looked up at him in confusion. She gripped his wrists as if her life depended on it. She saw nothing but concerned eyes looking down at her. Didn’t hear his friends whispering to each other. “Punch?”

“Yeah, Kass. Plain ol’ watered-down Hi-C, most likely. Fruit punch. Not grog.”

She swallowed hard. “Are you sure? There’s always grog. I Googled it.”

Hollywood turned his head, but didn’t take his eyes from hers. “Blade. Can you tell Kassie the grog bowl tradition?”

“Sure. They’re commonplace at dining-ins. It’s a tradition dating back to the Knights of the Round Table. Because of the weight of armor back in the day, it was hard to move and get a drink. So it was used as a punishment for someone who was out of order or unruly. The same thing applies today. There’s usually an alcoholic and non-alcoholic version and people who are found to be in violation of any kind of rule have to drink from the grog bowl.”

“And what’s a dining-in?” Hollywood asked, still holding Kassie’s eyes.

“It’s a formal military ceremony for members of a unit to foster camaraderie,” Blade said immediately.

“And are spouses, girlfriends, or significant others invited?”

“No,” Blade said succinctly.

Hollywood’s eyes narrowed, and he asked Kassie in a low voice, “When did you partake of a grog bowl, sweetheart?”

“I…uh…” Suddenly Kassie was more than aware of all the men and women around her, staring. She swallowed hard, embarrassed, but the terror hadn’t left her.

“Did your ex take you to an event with a grog bowl? You saw people drinking from it?” Hollywood pushed.

“He had an event at his place one night that included it,” Kassie told him, then bit her lip. “I told you about that. His friends dressed up in their fancy uniforms and came over. I usually messed up the most and had to drink from it all night. They thought it was funny to make me.”

Hollywood’s eyes closed momentarily and Kassie swore she heard one of his friends say “motherfucker” under their breath, but before she could say anything, Hollywood’s eyes opened and he said earnestly, “I’m sorry you had to do that, Kassie. As Blade said, the grog bowl is reserved for special soldiers-only functions. I can’t deny it’s gross, we’ve all had our share, but it’s supposed to be all in good fun. And I swear to you, all that’s in the punch bowl tonight is punch. Nothing gross. Okay?”

Kassie nodded. Embarrassed now. She’d made a fool out of herself. She should’ve known Richard hadn’t been following proper military protocol. The grog bowl was a real thing, but only for closed ceremonies…not for friends or family members.

“I don’t think I like this ex of yours,” Hollywood said, straightening, and reaching down for her hand once more.

“That makes two of us,” Kassie said with a nervous chuckle.

“Now that we have that out of the way…anyone want a cup of watered-down, barely drinkable fruit punch?” Truck asked dryly.

“Oh, with that description, how can we say no?” Emily asked with a laugh.

“Four cups, coming right up,” Truck said, lifting his chin at Kassie in what she thought was supposed to be a reassuring gesture, but in fact was just confusing.

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Pre-Order Rescuing Kassie (Delta Force Heroes)

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Coming to the RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta this May? Join the Ladysmut.com bloggers for a very special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever — and win crowns, toys, books and more. (Ooo, and we’ll have brownies….) Goodybags (with fun stuff!) to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Add this event to your RT Personal Agenda here.

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Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it  — “it” being the sex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington. Join her Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty exclusive reader’s group or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Billionaire Romance Will Never Die

24 Mar

by Elizabeth SaFleur

Let me be Captain Obvious. The rich aren’t like us. So it tracks that we’d be fascinated by these super rich creatures, right? Who wouldn’t want to live in that world, albeit virtually and vicariously, through romance stories? The “economic one percent” make problems disappear with the swipe of a credit card. They board private jets when the mood strikes for sushi but only from that little place they discovered in Japan. They buy all the shoes, books and enemy’s businesses they want, whenever they want.

Who wouldn’t want to read about these people?

A bunch of hands just went up in the room, as in “Me! Me! Stop with the billionaire romance already!” Apparently, a tribe of billionaire-hating readers who have a strong disdain for such reads exists! I discovered this on Facebook — the authority on all things true and accurate, right? written with extreme sarcasm. Direct quotes include:

“If I never read another billionaire romance life would be so grand.”

“Can we just have the billionaire thing over already?”

“Oh, yay. Another billionaire romance. Retch.”

I’m shocked, I tell you. SHOCKED.

Then I remembered hearing a panel at last year’s RT Booklovers Convention (forgive me for not remembering the details) where someone said Millennial’s reading tastes are vastly different from older generation’s. The younger generation wants–shudder–reality, as in romance books set in the real-world with characters who were authentic, i.e. not rich, not glamorous, not billionaires. In short, they wanted to read about people like them.

The same RT panelist said the older generations were more apt to want escapism romance. And, sorry to break it to the world, but at some point in the not too distant future the younger generation will become the older generation. So we authors need to care what these youngin’s think–today.

(Side note: Have you heard about the rich kids of Instagram? Well, lest you think everyone young is rolling pennies at night, take a gander at THIS.)

Back to our blog post at hand. Do these predictions mean tales of the wealthy whisking away the innocent virgin to unimaginable pleasures and private islands will go away? Is the billionaire erotic romance market, gulp, fading?

Nope. Not. Even. Close. So say, I, and not because I publish a billionaire erotic romance series. Scout’s honor.

Google images return results when you ask for “billionaire romance.” Thousands! Millions!

 

The Guardian recently published an article on this very topic, triggered by the recent Fifty Shades movie. (Read about my and Madeline Iva’s opinion on the movie here). How could anyone NOT click on an article with the headline, Filthy rich: our tortured love affair with wealth porn.

Wealth porn means accepting that someone is more interesting after seeing their stock portfolio. Kind of like being a virtual gold digger (guilty!). After all, many have said if Christian Grey lived in a trailer, he’d be considered an abuser. The fact he has a penthouse in Seattle’s most expensive building makes his, ahem, viewpoints and behavior around kink okay.

Back to the topic at hand. Forget that in real life millionaires and billionaires rarely have time for Saturday strolls with the family in the park, let alone time to jet off to Japan for sushi. Unless one has inherited a fortune, it takes an obscene amount of office face time to purchase luxury living. But in books, they have oodles of time to lavish attention and resources on their heroines. Thank goodness. I get enough reality in, well, real life.

Below are my super-non-scientific reasons why the super rich will grace our book’s pages for years to come and readers will love it–even the Millennials.

Billionaire romance can be aspirational. A girl’s gotta have a dream, so why not fill your head with visions of full-time maid service and a full-time cook (my ultimate dream)? But more than that, if you believe in the power of manifestation, what you imagine becomes closer to reality. Deep down, I wonder if this is what makes billionaire romance reading so appealing. I read at night and know my dream state is affected by this activity. I have to believe others feel the same.

Reality fatigue is real.  If you seek a break from the negative news filling our airwaves and headlines these days (who isn’t?), romance is perfect for such an escape. Reading about the super-rich takes this diversion to a new level. As for that RT panel that said Millennials don’t want reality? Remember that was before the recent U.S. presidential election, although we were deep in it. Just not as profoundly as we are now. Now we’re so entrenched in absurdity and negativity, we’re like pigs in slop (except pigs like slop).

Billionaire romance features the good guys. Lordy knows, we need some honest-to-God heroes right now, and will for decades to come to get over what’s happening in real life. In reality, the mega rich don’t have the best reputation, especially in today’s times. In romance novels, these wealthy heroes may be flawed, but they sure are heroic and deep down good. Heck, in books even the villains are usually redeemed. Or, if an unethical rich person is cast in a romance novel, they “get theirs” or at least are so obviously bad we know what we’re dealing with. That’s not always the case in real-life. That makes romance novels appeal to the better angels of our nature.

Note: In real life you’d be hard-pressed to find a billionaire who looks like Jamie Dornan. Just sayin’. 

No office pallor here!

Oddly, rich heroes and heroines make me feel normal. When reading, provided it’s not dark erotica or romance, my problems fade for a little bit. In fact, my problems don’t even show up in billionaire romance, even though the characters may be going through the same jealousy, insecurity, emotional vulnerability thing that I might be going through. But it always works out in romance, so I know it will be all right in the end. And if someone with a bank account the size of Fort Knox is worried about being loved, well, dammit, I’m not so strange after all.

In the end, romance has a time-tested appeal that taps into our human nature of wanting love to conquer all. In billionaire romance, we get to tap into that AND our desire for freedom and achievement — ultimately to not be at the behest of others.

Why do YOU love the billionaire romance? Or not?

And while you’re here, sign up for the LadySmut newsletter. We bring you all the smexy things to ponder.

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Coming to the RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta this May? Join the Ladysmut.com bloggers for a very special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever — and win crowns, toys, books and more. (Ooo, and we’ll have brownies….) Goodybags (with fun stuff!) to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Add this event to your RT Personal Agenda here.

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Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it  — “it” being the sex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington. Join her Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty exclusive reader’s group or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Congratulations Giveaway Winners – Owned, Collared, Er, Bedazzled?

4 Mar

Congratulations to our four winners of the “Owned & Collared” giveaway in conjunction with our interview with real-life BDSM lifestyler, AJ Renard. She graciously donated jewelry from her boudoir. The winners are:

  • LiseKim: leaf earrings
  • Carrie:  chunky bracelet
  • Kat: rope necklace
  • Bonnie: heart bracelet

Winners, ping Elizabeth at ElizabethLoveStory@gmail to claim!

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Meet An Owned, Collared and Well-Educated Feminist

24 Feb

by Elizabeth SaFleur

A few years ago I met the very lovely, very real BDSM lifestyler, AJ Renard, at the BDSM Writers Con in New York. An owned and collared submissive, AJ is an artist, model, executive and many other things — and she loves dispelling misconceptions about kink, as well as making sure people stay safe as they enter and explore the lifestyle. Her shoe and lingerie collection is to die for. And, look! A special jewelry giveaway from AJ below.

February is known as “love month.” It’s also when a certain movie came out.What a perfect time to sit down with AJ and set the record straight on BDSM and all things kinky — especially if you’re ready to go there.

The lovely AJ Renard, who also models!

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: AJ! It’s so great you’re here. Can you tell our readers about your BDSM/Kink lifestyle experience?
AJ RENARD: I have been in the lifestyle since my late teens, although I have always been strongly aware of my inclinations. It’s difficult to pinpoint one aspect of the lifestyle that draws me. I am a 24/7 submissive (the bottom in a Power Exchange relationship, where the submissive partner has willingly and consensually handed over some or all decision-making power in their life to their Dominant), which fulfills a deep need in me to serve and please another, and allows me the freedom to trust someone enough to put my life in their hands. I am also fundamentally a bottom (someone who receives the action during a BDSM scene vs. a Top who does the action to someone) in play and sexual encounters; it is intrinsically a part of me, and something I have never not had in my life.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So you’re “all in.” I imagine that surprises people when they meet you.
AJ RENARD: I think one of the things that surprises most people is simply to learn that I am a submissive. There is a broad misconception that being a submissive makes you weak, or a doormat, when, in reality, most Dominants value submissives who have a mind of their own and use it. Being submissive does not mean that I can’t have a great career as an executive, or that I can’t voice my opinion, or that I can’t allow my sassy and rambunctious personality to shine through. It simply means that I live by a set of rules to please my Dominant, and I trust him to make decisions for my benefit and growth, as well as for the health of our relationship.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Is there anything in the BDSM world that the vanilla world gets wrong, consistently?
AJ RENARD: That the lifestyle is sexually-focused. There are absolutely people, myself included, who express their sexuality through kink, but there are also many people who find satisfaction, sanctuary, healing, love, safety, and security in the lifestyle without it being sexual for them.

One of the things that bugs me the most (besides all the other things I’ve been ranting about!) is the impression many people have that BDSM is in direct conflict with feminism. There is a perception that BDSM is all about men controlling and hurting women, or women being docile and submissive (in a pejorative sense of the word). While there are many PE dynamics with a man in the D/ role and a woman in the /s role, those roles, and their activities, are consented to by both parties.

I consider myself a feminist, and I strongly encourage women to choose the path in life that makes them happy and fulfilled. For some, that might be owning a company or it might mean being a stay at home mom. It might mean being a Dominant, and taking on that D/ role yourself. It might mean handing over your power to another. Regardless, to me, being a feminist means finding what makes you feel good and having the freedom to pursue it, and not judging or condemning other women for how or where they find their own happiness. The BDSM lifestyle is where many people find their freedom, and it allows people to explore desires and parts of themselves that they may have been told they should be ashamed of.  I think that is very positive, empowering, and feminist.

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ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: My next question could fill a book, but I’m asking anyway! What do you wish people knew about BDSM, in general? There seems to be so much misinformation…
AJ RENARD: Ohhhh my gosh… There’s so much…! One of the biggest things I wish people truly understood is that everything in the lifestyle is based on consent. Consent is discussed, informed, enthusiastic, and can be withdrawn at any time by either partner.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Anytime?
AJ RENARD: Yes. One of the questions I see asked a lot by newcomers (especially by young, inexperienced submissives) is “can my Dominant do X?” My first question back is almost always “did you discuss it and consent to it?” Because that’s what it boils down to. Both parties must consent to what is happening within a relationship or scene.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: A certain book (clears throat before saying it includes the words “Fifty” and “Shades”) opened the door to many to the world of BDSM. Yet, many real-world BDSM community members were upset about how BDSM was characterized. What would you tell someone whose only exposure was that movie or series?
AJ RENARD: If someone discovers their kinky side through a work of fiction, I think that’s great! The important thing to remember is that it’s fantasy. Real life is always different, and especially in BDSM (or any other “culture” steeped in protocols and traditions), if you don’t live the lifestyle day to day, it’s difficult to portray it accurately.

A lot of what rubbed the BDSM community the wrong way with that particular book goes back to one of the misconceptions I spoke about earlier – the idea that consent is paramount in this lifestyle. The main character was uninformed about the lifestyle in general, the dynamic she was entering into, and even the types of play they would engage in. How can you consent to something you don’t know will happen? She didn’t consent to the amount of control he took over her life, and when there isn’t consent, what is left is a violation.

I think that erotic fiction and the BDSM genre has made some conversations about sexuality and kinks slightly more acceptable (I say slightly because many of the people I know in the lifestyle would still lose their jobs, friends, and even their family if they were outed- there is still a tremendous amount of fear and bias surrounding the BDSM community), but it has also created a desire for many people to learn about and participate in kink, even when they’re not sure where to start.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So how should someone start?
AJ RENARD: If someone finds their interest piqued by something they read in a BDSM novel and they want to explore more, I would encourage them to start by reading nonfiction. There are some great books and websites out there that will help you get a better idea of what the lifestyle is about, and what you might be interested in.

Editorial Note: SM 101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman and Screw the Roses, Send me the Thorns by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon are two staples of BDSM education.

For many people, fantasizing and reading is as far as they want to go, and that’s perfectly fine! For those who want to experiment, I always always always encourage them to find in-person education. Most medium cities have a local scene, and you usually don’t have to look very far away to find an event, class, party, or munch.

Munches are low-pressure social gatherings, usually in a private space at a restaurant or other non-kink venue. There is no play, or kinky activity. From the outside it looks like any other social gathering, and it’s an opportunity for kinksters to meet, socialize, and be amongst like-minded people. Many munches have an appointed person who greets and introduces newcomers to people, so you don’t feel so alone or out of place! You don’t have to be intimidated even if you’re not sure what you’ll talk about, a lot of the time most of the conversations have nothing to do with kink!

Another great way to meet people and dip your toe into the scene is through classes. Many clubs and groups (especially TNG groups- “The Next Generation” groups, for people under 35) will offer skills classes like BDSM 101, intro to impact play, etc. and those are another way to educate yourself and meet new people. Fetlife.com and FindAMunch.com can help you find a local munch, and classes in your area.

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“To play safely, you must be informed, about yourself, your partner, and the play in which you are engaging.” ~AJ Renard

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Since BDSM has come out of the closet, so to speak, education seems very important right now.
AJ RENARD: I always believe in the power of education! Traditions, skills, safety practices, and knowledge are all highly regarded in the BDSM community, and most of these are not learned overnight, and not instilled in someone without effort.

BDSM education, in my opinion, is incredibly important for two main reasons: Safety and Respect.

The first, and most obvious, is safety. As a bottom, you are often putting your physical and emotional safety in someone else’s hands, as a Top, you are often responsible for them. That is not something to be taken lightly, and even deceptively simple types of play (how hard can it be to tie someone’s hands with some clothesline you have lying around, right?) can often carry risk that you don’t know about. To play safely, you must be informed, about yourself, your partner, and the play in which you are engaging.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So true, so true. I’ve seen some “live experimentation” on a person before and it made me cringe.
AJ RENARD: Many skills also require practice and are techniques that must be learned. If you can’t aim that flogger and hit the spot you intend to, every time, with the intensity and force you want, you need more practice before aiming it at a human being. Additionally, you need to learn how to vet your potential partners, keep yourself safe, asses their skill level, negotiate and set limits for scenes, etc. If you’re completely new to kink, those are things that you will need to learn- in classes, from experienced kinksters, from a mentor, etc.

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AJ in rope suspension.

The second biggest reason I think education is important is respect. I often compare it to moving to a foreign country. There is a new culture, language, customs, way of relating, and to respect and honor it you must understand it. I see many newcomers complain (mostly in online groups) that they don’t feel as immediately welcomed as they thought they should have been. What many people fail to realize is that to people who are deeply into the lifestyle, new people can present a potential threat.

To people in the community, newcomers can often mean someone who wants to pass by all the education, safety knowledge, and wisdom experienced players have to offer, and get right to the “exciting (i.e. dangerous) stuff.” It can mean that someone may not take the time to learn the traditions and culture of the community, and may deeply offend someone because they haven’t made the effort to understand the lifestyle, even if they don’t practice it in the same way. There is also the very real danger that someone who doesn’t understand the need for privacy and discretion, who is caught up in the excitement of getting involved in kink, may inadvertently “out” someone- as I mentioned earlier, while some aspects of kink are becoming more socially acceptable, there are serious, real world consequences if some people were to be outed.

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“With BDSM being more widely discussed, many more people are trying kink, and many people are doing it dangerously. Unfortunately, those people are the ones who often end up in the news, representing the BDSM community when something goes horribly wrong in their play.” ~AJ Renard

When you enter this community, you will come across people who live their lives in ways you might have never imagined. The kink community is an accepting place where they have found a home, and educating yourself about different lifestyles, types of play and relationships will help you navigate the waters and remain respectful.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Is there anything that erotic fiction authors “get wrong” a lot…or a little?
AJ RENARD: One of my biggest peeves with a lot of BDSM fiction is that most scenes seem to be foreplay for sex. For a huge swath of kinksters, the majority of their scenes do not involve intercourse, and many scenes are not even sexual in nature. It may be a rope scene that is much more about the ties and positions and suspension. It might be fireplay for the sensation and relaxation, it might be a bootblacking scene for the appreciation of the leather and the act of service, and there are PE dynamics that are service-based, with no sexual interaction. Now, I understand the space between a rock and a hard place in which authors find themselves. Yes, they want to accurately portray the lifestyle, but their readers also want to pick up something sexy to read!

The other issue I usually have is the sped up timeline. BDSM takes time. Skills take time to learn, it takes time to build trust, it takes time to vet someone and negotiate. Again, I understand that these are vastly less exciting to read about than someone jumping in and discovering themselves through hot, kinky sex with someone who they instinctively know is safe and skilled and knowledgeable.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Do you believe BDSM is “coming into its own” in the world now? Like we’ve reached a critical mass and there’s greater understanding and acceptance than in decades past? (Is this a stupid question? LOL)
AJ RENARD: Kink, as far as the more generic perception of kink (maybe some leather cuffs, a blindfold, running an ice cube over the body, spanking, maybe some butt stuff), is getting slightly more acceptable. In the same way that Kinsey’s studies found evidence that homosexual acts and behavior were too prevalent in the general population to be considered truly “abnormal,” people are starting to realize that the desire for some level of kink in the bedroom is far more common than we used to think.

However, many kinks, things like ageplay, more extreme Sadism and masochism, consensual slavery, CNC (consensual non-consent, like rape and kidnapping play), and even D/s relationships like the one I have, amongst many, many others, are still looked at with suspicion and derision. People can lose their jobs, custody of their children, and rape cases because of their lifestyle, plus facing discrimination and potential loss of friends, family, and community. Someone might understand giving your spouse a spanking, but it’s still a far leap for many of those people to understand that I truly like being hurt and terrified, to the point that I am sobbing and begging, or that a rape victim can find catharsis and comfort in CNC scenes where they might be able to feel as if they’re rewriting their attack under their own power and control.

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“It takes a lot of understanding and education for many people to understand those, or that someone can need to be in a little headspace to feel protection and love, or that sometimes it feels really, really good to just be objectified and used as a footstool.” ~AJ Renard

BDSM was only recently removed from the DSM (in the DSM V, published in 2013), and the law has not yet caught up- many activities in BDSM are considered illegal (in the United States you cannot consent to your own bodily harm). De-stigmatizing kink, and no longer classifying it as a mental illness is a start, but there is still a long and difficult road ahead before most of us might be able to live without fear of the consequences of how we express our need to serve, our sexuality, and our love.

(The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, NCSFreedom.org, has been instrumental in many of these advancements. It is a great organization to be involved with or donate to!)

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Thanks, AJ. You certainly have given us a lot to think about!

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

Ooo, look at the pretties! Four people will be randomly selected from the comments section below for one of the beautiful pieces below. Or, you can go like our Facebook page and be entered to win, too.

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Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it  — “it” being the sex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington. Join her Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty exclusive reader’s group or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

We Saw Fifty Shades Darker So You Don’t Have To

11 Feb

by Elizabeth SaFleur & Madeline Iva

Happy Weekend! We’re here to share with you all our thoughts after seeing FIFTY SHADES DARKER at the movie theatre last night. fifty-shades-darker

Madeline: I loved seeing that group of women who all came into the theatre wearing masks. In fact, my role here is to see the film with eyes of love.  To understand why women love it, why it’s so ridiculously successful.

Elizabeth: This blog post also could be titled, Fifty Scenes of Dakota’s Boobs. Or Fifty Shades of Mixed Messages.

Madeline: You’re in a mood this morning.  I can tell.

Elizabeth: I don’t hate the Fifty Shades franchise. I don’t love it either. I’m neutral, though I was really hoping Hollywood did a better job of portraying the lifestyle than they did previously. Of course, I recognized this story, from the get-go, isn’t a BDSM erotic romance at all.

Madeline: I mean, I agree.–But what is it then?

Elizabeth: It’s a story of a man with PTSD from his childhood who channels his angst by engaging in supposed sadism (I don’t think he’s really a sadist, by the way) with submissives. He meets an ordinary girl who sends this man mixed signals. But she would. She’s in her early twenties and still figuring herself out. But, Jesus, the back and forth!

All that chest--and no touching it. I would go mad.

All that chest–and no touching it. I would go mad.

Madeline: Yes, she’s still figuring it all out.  Jackie and I talked about that with the first movie. This is a strong message that’s getting out into the world these days and I applaud it.  You hear that men? Women are not playing games.  They’re not f**king with you.  They’re trying to figure it out, okay? And sometimes it’s not easy.

Elizabeth: I get why people love 50 Shades. Billionaires, mild kinky scenarios—

Madeline: Yay to mild-kink! Or, as I like to call it, Kinky-lite.  We need t-shirts.  I’ll get my people right on that.

Elizabeth: –especially if you’ve not been exposed before. People also love the luxurious settings, a man changed by the love of a woman. That trope is old as the hills.

Madeline Iva: As old as the hills–and yet there are real haters out there.  Haters who love romance, confoundingly.

Elizabeth: I get why people hate it. Bad BDSM benchmark set, a weak(er) story structure and did I mention the mixed signals from both characters?

Madeline: One thing about the mixed messages: I think that the movie makers had to do it the way that they did. They had to be true to the book and in the book, she’s walking away from kink.  On the other hand, what do we want? We want hot sex scenes in the movie! Like we had in the first movie, only different.  They delivered both.  Could they have delivered a movie that had a lot less sex? I don’t think so.

Elizabeth: The PR/Marketing person in me also thought they missed an opportunity to make the movie the best possible thing ever. No excuse! I mean, built-in audience, Hollywood! We had a row of women behind us who came as a group all wearing masks. You can’t buy this kind of loyalty.50-shades-darker-teaser-mask

Madeline: You think they should have really dug in and changed things, deepened the script, the plot, etc?

Elizabeth: Yes! So, sadly, this movie isn’t going to win any Oscars.

Madeline: So, here’s what I say — is this even really a movie? I mean, I thought of it as something in film form that was an homage to the book.  I think we’re in the early days of a whole new medium. We need to come up with a jazzy name for it.  I mean, that whole weird section with the helicopter crash? “Real” movies don’t actually work like that.  Which is okay–but comparing this to a movie is like comparing apples to…an apple flavored jolly roger candy.  You know?

Elizabeth: It will certainly please the 50 Shades crowd, but in equal measure that it will tick off the real-life BSDM enthusiasts. (I can’t help but think of how this mirrors our very-politically-divided country right now.)

Fifty pull ups. Cause you know *that* joke isn't getting old.

Fifty pull ups. Cause you know *that* joke isn’t getting old.

Madeline: Aren’t they already ticked off? I mean, by this point, I can’t imagine real-life BDSM enthusiasts going see this movie for sheer love.  Me, I was frankly relieved that it was so kinky-lite in the first movie.  FIFTY SHADES DARKER’s little play-time scenes were icing on the cake.  Besides, I brought my husband to see the movie, and was hoping to placate him with all the sexy biz.

Also, as Jezebel writers said: “What was good: basically nonstop puss eating.”

Elizabeth: !

Madeline: So sez Jezebel, so say we all. On the other hand, people kinda wanted to see Christian’s dick.  Not me, just…people.  #dickparity is a thing, I guess.

Elizabeth: What I liked about the movie: Dakota Johnson has got acting chops.

Madeline: I agree.

Elizabeth: She’d better than most people probably realize given she had to develop that character herself. Anastasia Steele’s clothes. I want that La Perla bustier garter set she’s wearing.

Madeline: We all want that La Perla bustier garter set.  And the body to go with it.

And it looks even better from the back...

And it looks even better from the back…

Elizabeth: –Ya know, for sitting around my home office so I can pretend I’m about to be whisked to a ball. Also, her lips. M and I agree – she had the best lipstick. And it stayed on no matter what they were doing like sucking face, which they did often.

Madeline: I liked the sucking face.  Jamie Dornan sucks face well.

Elizabeth: Christian Grey’s boat. Niiiice. Jamie Dornan’s buffness and scruffness – just the way I like it. Oh, and his neck! I just wanted to bury my face in it.

You want to grab him. Admit it.

You want to grab him. Admit it.

Madeline: I did not need him so buff.  But I am obsessed.  (Posting on that later.)

Elizabeth: The general eye candy was great. They live in a beautiful world.

Madeline: I was going through eye candy withdrawl. This movie definitely helped.

Elizabeth: But I can’t get over the mixed signals: “Christian, I can never, ever give you what you need.” Ten minutes later, “Christian, spank me.” “Take me to the red room.” Make up your mind, lady. You’re either into the kink or you’re not.

Madeline: Okay, here’s my take on that — at first in their relationship he wanted total control.  Even to the point of saying he didn’t “do relationships”.  Gah.  It’s like a dance, and he was always leading.

In FIFTY SHADES DARKER, she takes control.  It’s not about consistency.  It’s about her leading. In the past, with all his interactions the dominant dynamic was about them pleasing him.  Now he has to keep up with her, follow her lead, and prove to her that he can please her.  It’s all about her, people! (Which is catnip to us romance ladies.)

She's steering the ship now.

She’s steering the ship now.

Elizabeth: His admission that he’s not a Dominant, but a sadist really bothered me.

Madeline: It was certainly abrupt.

Elizabeth: And they acted like being a sadist must be a very, very, very bad thing. It’s not!!

Madeline: She’s getting on her BDSM soap box people.

Elizabeth: If you’re truly a responsible sadist, you play with consenting adults, and you never harm anyone.

Madeline: Which is different from causing them pain

Elizabeth: Right.  Pain is temporary, and some masochists get an endorphin rush off controlled pain, which registers as a kind of pleasure…so they like it.

Madeline: Yes, yes, yes!

Elizabeth: Harming someone is completely different.

Madeline: Noted.

Elizabeth: I had an issue with the symbolic kink. The movie brings out the usual kinky props, but clearly for symbolic reasons. There’s the blindfold and the cuffs but within one minute they’re having sex. They bring out the spreader bar and within one minute they’re having sex.  He gives her four spanks and then they’re having sex. I get it. They’re young, full of hormones and hot. But don’t expect any real BDSM. The movie had tons of sex and a little slap and tickle.

Madeline: I didn’t mind that at all. Huzzah to symbolic kinky sex!

Elizabeth: Speaking of the spreader bar. People…please DO NOT go to Amazon, buy the first spreader bar you see and do that flip move that Christian did to Ana without a lot of practice.

Do not try this at home...

Do not try this at home…

Madeline: It did look…quite…gymnastic.

Elizabeth: I’m not quite convinced that spreader bar exists in real life.

Madeline: A retractable spreader bar.  Yeah, that was a new one to me too.

Elizabeth: So don’t risk spraining an ankle or wrenching a back.

Madeline: Her breasts were like a third character in the movie.

Elizabeth: If there was an opportunity to show them off, the movie did.

Madeline: It’s actually in her contract–she must be topless or naked at least every fifteen minutes of the movie. (Joking.) But reading interviews, I think the actress has made this her thing.  And if an actor is a bit of an exhibitionist, who are we to complain? (I’m looking at you, Orlando Bloom.)

Elizabeth: Why couldn’t we get his glory to be the third character? Equal rights, man.

Madeline: #DickParity — starting that hashtag right now

Elizabeth: This movie was more sex positive than the last — and Ana wasn’t as big as a doormat as she was in the first movie.

Madeline: Amen to that!

Elizabeth: Oh, and for grins you really must check out this post from a Redbook writer, I Tried All the Sex From Fifty Shades Darker In One Weekend. Hilarious.

Madeline: I can’t believe Redbook did that…that is awesome.  Final comments?

Elizabeth: Bottom line: If you are a 50 Shades fan, you’ll love this movie.

Madeline: Durh.

Elizabeth: If you are a real-life BDSM lifestyler, you’ll probably stay away anyway. Christian is someone who needs to be “cured.” Yeah, right.  But what he needs (IMHO) is help with his PTSD, not his BDSM proclivities (though I’m not convinced BDSM even really is his thing).

Madeline: What is his thing?

Elizabeth: Okay–Growing up, Christian discovers how to use kink to channel his anger from his childhood trauma.  And so maybe when he gets together with her, and they bond, that anger starts to go away? And that’s why he walks away from it all.

Towards the end of the series, he says he doesn’t want to do it anymore.  In the third book he doesn’t want a red room in the new house.

A Dominant, meanwhile, that’s their main thing–being in control.  If he actually can be happy without being in control, yeah, he’s not a Dominant.  And a sadist — I’m sorry, but you don’t just actually decide not to be someone who gets off on pain.  It’s like trying to pray your way out of being gay.

Madeline: So if this was real life–which it’s not–Elena would be right.  Ana and Christian together as a couple would be a compromise for him.  A compromise most couples don’t survive.

Kim Basinger plays Elena in the movie--which makes it all very meta.

Kim Basinger plays Elena in the movie–which makes it all very meta.

Elizabeth: Right.  If it was real life.

Madeline: Which it’s not.

Elizabeth: I don’t care if this story is fiction, that idea should be sorted out. Okay, Hollywood, can you do that for us? So we’re ALL happy? See built-in audience above.50shadesshouldersleeping

And don’t forget out V-Day Giveaway.  Subscribe to Lady Smut — push the pink bottom at the top right of your screen and you’ll be entered to win. 

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

5 Ways Millionaires & Billionaires Aren’t Like Us

11 Feb

By Elizabeth SaFleur

bizmeetingAccording to the latest Fifty Shades Darker movie, Christian Grey makes $24,000 every 15 minutes. Possible? Yes. Over the years I’ve met a few billionaires and lots of mega millionaires in my day job. Not sure what they make in fifteen minutes, but I can tell you these super-magnets for wealth exist.

Christian Grey is young, hot, and tormented.  He’s not like you and me with his anti-relationship contracts, and crazed need for control.

Okay, this is really just an excuse to post more pics of Jamie Dornan.

Okay, this is really just an excuse to post more pics of Jamie Dornan.

While your average mega-rich guy may not be like that, neither is he like us ordinary folk. Here are five things I’ve observed about the super rich.

  1. NEVER ENOUGH.  You worry about money.  I worry about money.  The uber-wealthy worry about money too, but not like you and me. As long as I’m paying the bills, taking a nice trip or two a year and someone comes to clean my house once a week– I’m golden. That’s enough. Millionaires and Billionaires worry about losing their super-wealthy status, and they worry about it all the time. They’ll always have money, but it’s having “enough” that’s troublesome.  Their version of “enough” is in the seven figures–for a while. Then they need more…and more…
  2. CHEAP IS CHEAP. The super-rich have odd ideas about what’s expensive. Watch them recoil in horror that a Frappacino at Starbucks costs six dollars.  However they’ll approve that 60 grand for the new pool in the third house with the swipe of a pen. (Or a phone call. They have people who handle that stuff for them.)
  3. RICH MEN DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE. It’s usually someone calling for money. Their voice mail is perpetually full. Their people will get back to you.  Maybe.
  4. RICH MEN DON’T RUSH. They walk. Other people can run–and should run, because rich men despise tardiness in others. So don’t be late for meetings with them.
  5. RICH MEN SAY NO. If a situation doesn’t suit them (like they don’t like the restaurant you pick or that company they thought they might buy), they walk away–even if they leave you hanging. Is that rude? Well, yeah.  Sometimes. Do people around them point that out? Well, no.
Thinking important business thoughts. This is what the super-rich do.

Thinking important business thoughts. This is what the super-rich do.

Ultimately, there are two kinds of super-wealthy men: those that buy their way into everything and those that buy their way out.  Is this nature or nurture? Are they rich because they have these traits, or does being rich change them? One thing’s for sure–you and I will probably never know. ; >

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Don’t forget to subscribe to Lady Smut and be entered in our Valentine’s Giveaway

Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it  — “it” being the sex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington. Join her Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty exclusive reader’s group or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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