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Everything Old Is New Again

3 Sep

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

It’s here again. The official end of summer and the start of the marathon run to the end of the year. Pools are closing. Barbeques are having they’re last hurrah. Commutes are once again clogged with cars. Kids are back in school. My Facebook feed is full of my friend’s frustrations and exasperation with their kids school lists and classroom requirements, followed soon by proud first-day-of-school pictures.

But while Labor Day is one last rest before that metaphorical rush to the finish, this time of year also offers a chance at new beginnings. New seasons of fall sports. New teachers and potential classmates. New work challenges in our day jobs. We may be leading the same lives, but every new season is alive with possibilities. Full with the chance for everything old to be new again.

Power up, ladies!

Anyone who has been in publishing for five minutes knows the constant change that happens in this industry. Flexibility is key and reinvention, common. What remains are good writing and great stories, whether under a different publisher or even, sometimes, a new name.

Last week, Lady Smut author Isabelle Drake shared the exciting news of how her previous released cowboy romantic comedy, Cowboy for Hire, once published by the now defunct Ellora’s Cave, is available again through her new publisher, Riverdale Ave Books.

T0day, it’s my distinct pleasure to share with you the news that my novels, the award-winning Wild on the Rocks and its follow up, SEALed With a Twist, will be republished this Septemer.

Earlier this summer, the powers that be at Amazon decided to close the successful Kindle Worlds program under which my novels were published. As it turns out, this was the best thing that could happen. Both novels will now be available on *all* digital platforms. But wait, there’s more! They will also, for the first time, be available to international readers. But wait, THERE’S MORE. They will also, for the first time, be available in print!

I KNOW!

 

I am super thrilled to be able to share these wonderful stories with so many new readers! These stories have traveled far and wide with me, through some significant life deviations and personal heartache. They have taken me on an adventure I never expected and its on-going. Come celebrate with me at the New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart in a Book annual conference, October 19-20th. I love to meet readers in person and especially those who meet and laugh with us here at Lady Smut.

The only thing constant is change, they say. And the only thing to do with change is to make it work for you. With the change of the seasons comes the opportunity to reexamine and reinvent. To make something old, new again. I hope you’ll celebrate this change with me this fall and share with me some of what may be changing with you, dear readers, as well. Come take another wild ride with me–perhaps, for the first time.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her award-winning debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rockswill be available this September. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

 

Endorphin Rush: Last day of SFF VDay Deal!!!

28 Feb

Need to quell your post-Vday chocolate cravings? (I do. Seriously.) Here’s just the thing to distract you from binging at the candy store — this Valentine’s Day Speculative Fiction Sale is STILL going on!!!

It was supposed to run from Feb 13th to the 15th, but I just checked the link and lots of the books are still up. It’s like when you’ve eaten all the chocolates in the box your sweetie gave you for Valentine’s Day, but you look again and realize–there’s a second layer.  And you’re all like: Oooooooooh!  Almost every book I looked at was either still either free, or free on Kindle Unlimited or .99.  YAY!

Many of the delicious covers are making me drool (See Below) — Lot’s of stuff is there that I know I want to grab for my kindle right now. I saw a goodly number of Dragon Shifter romances if you’re into that — it’s such a hot SFF trend these days.

Go! Go now! — Get your next SFF Romance at the SPECULATIVE FICTION Valentine’s Day Sale TODAY before March is here and it’s all gone like the last chocolate in the candy box. —Okay, I **have** to stop talking about sugar.

 

 

I’m off…

23 Feb

…to London for RARE18, an international gathering of people who love romance–authors, readers, bloggers, cover models… Here, have some man inspiration while I’m gone. Rumor has it Stuart Reardon will be there. I’ll be reporting back in March on all things RARE and wonderful! If I manage to smuggle out a cover model (or two), you’ll be the first to know. Pinky swear.

Is he to die for or what?

Best Women’s Erotica of the Year: Your Complete Collection

11 Dec

by Madeline Iva

Lovely readers: It’s the most wonderful time of the year –No, we’re not talking Xmas, we’re talking theRachel Kramer Bussel’s latest anthology:BEST WOMEN’S EROTICA OF THE YEAR Volume 3!

Rachel will celebrate here on the blog this week by posting two free excerpts:  one from Thien-Kim Lam (who used to blog with us at Lady Smut–Yay Thien-kim!) and the other from Charlotte Stein, whom, as you know, we at Lady Smut lurv lurv lurv.

Did you miss Rachel’s fun blog post about this new collection? Check it out–it’s yummy!  Five Feminist Movements From Best Women’s Erotica of the Year.

I know, I know, now you want the complete collection, don’t you? Here they are — tres chic! Click to buy one set for yourself–and one for a friend. ;> Best Women's Erotica of the year, vol. 3

Best Women's Erotica, Vol 2

Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Vol. 1

 

Your Next Book Boyfriend Awaits You

22 Nov

Five awesome romances,

$25.00 Amazon gift card

AND a few surprises.

Come back on Friday to enter & win!

 

Chances To Ogle Lady Smut Bloggers In Person

19 Sep

By Madeline Iva

NOTE TO READERS: I’m now going to be blogging on Tuesdays at Lady Smut.

Breathless note!  Things have been super busy—but very exciting. I spent an exceptionally gorgeous day last Saturday teaching a writing workshop up in Louden County, and this week —

Alexa Day and I are at #Fred Fest this weekend, Saturday Sept. 23rd. I’ll be the one with 100 lavender votive candles to give away. Perfect for your local coven meeting.

(The lovely Elizabeth SaFleur gave them to me.)

I mean, really, it’s going to be an EXTRAVAGANZA! Lots ‘o romance writers and our very own 3 tents, Q1 – Q3 will have historical romances (by Sue London), BDSM romances, Y.A., Urban Fantasy, and Fantasy Romance.   And that’s just us – Washington Romance Writers & Virginia Romance Writers will be there as well.

Now, what am I going to wear?

The time to register for Hearts to You – aka the Washington Romance Writers luncheon for readers and bloggers — is upon us.   Kiersten Hallie Krum will be there with an awesome Lady Smut basket to give away.  Alexa Day, who last year got to sit all lunch long with Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches Trashy Books (ooh, I was so envious) will be back again this year.  Elizabeth SaFleur enchanted readers last year at her table with some excellent girl talk about sex and BDSM will also be kickin’ around in her elegant high heels.

Me? I’m not a squeal-y type of person, but this event gets my voice pretty high pitched. It’s just mega-fun. I’m not sure why.  Is it all the give away baskets, the excellent location, the chance to take home a ton of free books? Maybe.  Ultimately, I put it down to the rockin’ energy of the WRW tribe.  They just make me want to stand up and testify to the power of romance.

So register at the WRW blog. It’s pretty inexpensive. I love it.  We love it.  You’ll love it too!  Come meet us in person, chat romance, enjoy the day.  (There’s even a rumor that some folks are going out for drinks afterwards.)

Okay — I’m off running around again.  See you next week. 🙂

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

Of Men, Masquerades and the Monkey Trap: Naked Snctm is a Surprise

13 Sep

By Alexa Day

(Strong and Sexy Week continues to celebrate colleague Elizabeth SaFleur’s new release, The White House Gets A Spanking, a fabulous and timely novella up for preorder right this second! But I couldn’t wait until October to go after Snctm again. I don’t do delayed gratification all that well. You know, sorry.)

The morning I discovered the email announcing that Snctm had a television series airing on Showtime, I began preparing to hate-watch it. I haven’t been terribly shy about my feelings when it comes to the Beverly Hills-based sex club. I figured a TV show was just another way for founder Damon Lawner and his inner circle to congratulate themselves for building this emporium for the male gaze.

After watching the first two episodes, I decided I was right about it. I only watched the third because I had something in the oven and my craptacular cable package didn’t have any better ideas.

Because of my chicken and rice casserole, I’m now writing a very different post from the one I thought I’d be writing.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I hesitate to call Naked Snctm a reality show. It has some of the trappings of the reality show, leading the viewer along with Damon as he goes about his version of a normal day. We even have those little confessional-style clips with his staff and some of Snctm’s members. Despite all that, Naked Snctm feels more like a documentary. It doesn’t feel cheap. It doesn’t even feel exploitative, really. And while I can often sense the producer’s hand at work in the typical reality show, Naked Snctm looks like it was assembled by a storyteller.

I have a LOT to say about this show, and I know you all have limited time. Everyone is busy these days, what with pumpkin spice lattes and the holidays swiftly approaching. I understand. I’ll keep this to two highlights per episode, for four episodes.

Near the beginning of the first episode, we meet Damon’s ex-wife as they sit down for a drink. Melissa explains to us in the confessional that she and Damon met when she was 18. She was raised to think of marriage and relationships in a relatively conservative way, and he … well, he wasn’t.

At the bar, Melissa tells Damon that their twelve-year-old daughter came home from school in tears. Some of the boys in her class have been giving her a hard time. They found Damon on Instagram, followed the breadcrumbs back to the Snctm website, and then did what the average twelve-year-old boy would do in a situation like that.

Damon’s response to this bothered me.

The only way to protect his daughters (he and Melissa also have a nine-year-old) from Snctm is to get rid of it altogether, he says. He isn’t going to get rid of it. It represents his only income stream, he says, and “I don’t have a Plan B.”

I’m not a parent. But I have lost my only income stream without warning. I’ll admit that it’s a little scary and would probably have been more scary if I had human dependents. Wanna guess what I did?

I fucking created a goddamned Plan B.

If I knew that my job was causing my daughter pain — and I think we both know that at 12 years old, this is probably not harmless teasing — I would quit that job, unless my job were critical to the continued existence of Planet Earth. Damon’s job is not critical to the continued existence of Planet Earth. I hope he’s not going to try to convince his daughter that it is.

This exchange takes place early in the first episode, right as we’re getting to know Damon. I can’t help but wonder why. Why tell us this now? Why tell us at all?

Damon (left), with Nicolas, making an important business decision

We don’t have much time to think about this before we’re spirited away to Damon’s place for Diner. Nicolas, Snctm’s operations manager, is on hand for the event. Nicolas — a bright-eyed, clean-shaven, briskly accented opposite to Damon — explains that his job is to make sure everything on the premises is running smoothly. He keeps his eye on the multitudinous candles. He keeps glass off the floor. He isn’t all that interested in the erotic theater himself because that would detract from his job performance. He’s like the security guard at the museum, specifically chosen because he isn’t interested in the art.

Nicolas also reviews the written portion of the Snctm applications. He gave someone a thumbs-down because her essay was “pretty pathetic.”

Nicolas is now the most interesting person I have encountered thus far, in all my dealings with Snctm. Snctm people, take note: had you put me in touch with Nicolas, I might have been a little nicer to you. A little. Let’s not get crazy.

I am a little surprised to find that the artistic director at Snctm is a woman; the club strikes me as a little tone-deaf when it comes to what women would want. Still, Alina arranges the performances for Snctm events. At Diner, the performance is two women going down on each other, on the dinner table, before a third woman in a maid’s costume spreads cake frosting on them both for the consumption of the guests. Alina says this isn’t “some sloppy porn thing,” but where was the last place you saw two women eating each other out on a table where people were having a meal just moments before? It was porn, wasn’t it? Nothing against porn, but wasn’t it?

And if you answered this question, “Actually, Alexa, this sort of thing happens every night at the table for me, you plebeian clod, and no one cares that the wooden surface soaks up emissions like a sponge,” then I apologize. Sorry.

One of the second episode’s highlights is Osa. Osa is the first black woman I’ve seen in any of my writing on Snctm. At her audition to become a performer, she explains that she’s into fetish, including the fart fetish.

I have never heard of the fart fetish. Even the unflappable Nicolas seems flapped by it. Osa assures us that it’s on Wikipedia. It is, but it’s just on a list. Check out this article on eproctophilia from Psychology Today instead. Go right now. I will be here when you get back.

In gratitude for teaching me something I honestly did not know about the world of fetish, I will withdraw exactly one mean-spirited thing I have said about the Snctm people. I’ll let you know when I decide what it is.

The other highlight is a little less pleasant.

The Snctm audition.

There are two dudes auditioning for roles at Snctm as well. One of them is dressed like Nicolas, in a suit with his shirt open at the throat. Like he’s looking for a job. Nice. The other is wearing a blue tank top and a pair of pink shorts. This one, Robbie, takes the top off for a moment to show his interviewers what he looks like in a state of undress. As soon as they get a look at him, that shirt goes right back on. Maybe that’s normal for a man’s interview. Everyone felt Osa up during her audition, so I guess it’s hard to tell what normal is.

Robbie is sent upstairs with the other hopefuls to wait for the next stage, whatever that is. While he’s up there, he’s generally making an ass of himself. “Can I get a kiss?” he asks one of the women who hasn’t auditioned yet. “Should we fuck so you aren’t so horny later?”

Word gets out that Robbie is going to be a problem. Damon and Nicolas send security upstairs to have him removed at once. They are adamant that this kind of thing doesn’t fly at Snctm, and indeed, the Snctm people have always taken that position with me.

Security is Johnathan, one of the performers. Sometimes, he wears a military-style uniform, and he was a cop stripper before Snctm. Evidently this qualifies him to be security at Snctm. Something to keep in mind before dropping money on a base membership.

The third episode takes us to New York and an East Coast Snctm masquerade. Two highlights from this episode as well.

First, as she’s auditioning performers for that night’s party, Alina says the performance has to be more than “two girls in lingerie making out because you can see that everywhere.” I will gently remind the reader that Alina was kind of excited about two girls in lingerie making out in the first episode. Just a reminder, no judgment. Reminds me of the time, also in the first episode, when Damon said Snctm members came from all walks of life and then in the next breath said the base membership cost $15,000. That, to me, excludes some walks of life, but again, that’s just an observation.

The other highlight of the third episode? The IV Doc. Something else I’m learning about for the first time from Naked Snctm.

After a night of overindulgence, Damon is quite unable to get out of bed. Nicolas and Alina need him to get up; there’s business to handle before the masquerade. Nicolas suggests that this happens more often than he’d like. He even seems a little annoyed. What’s a guy to do?

Enter the IV Doc. The IV Doc will come to you, wherever you are, and administer an intravenous pick-me-up that will help you get out of bed to face the day. You can choose vitamins or other supplements, depending on whether you need hydration, detox, or even recovery from food poisoning. It’s actually kind of reasonably priced, when you consider how much it should cost to have a medical professional come to you and give you anything at all.

I had to go onto their website to learn all this. I have a little bit of an issue with needles, so I wasn’t about to watch Damon take that IV, even for you all. There is no way I personally would volunteer to get an IV because I can’t get out of bed. We would just have to write that day off. Perhaps the IV Doctor has a discount package where they open the packet containing the needle and you leap, rejuvenated, out of bed in order to avoid it.

The fourth episode reunites Damon with his mom.

Damon and his mom don’t see eye to eye. It feels personal and not totally appropriate to go into it here. I’ll say that despite Melissa’s suggestion in the first episode that Damon’s parents lived a carefree lifestyle that makes him who he is, I think Damon is actually trying to break free from the world his parents created for him in childhood. Snctm is his world, and at first blush, it does look like a traveling orgy. But in reality, the Diners and the masquerades and all the rest of it operate in a very structured way. Membership comes in tiers. Certain people are allowed to do certain things. There are rules upon rules upon rules. The sex is choreography, designed to entice invited guests.

When Damon ultimately reconciles with his mother, I don’t get a theater vibe from their embrace. He’s made himself open and vulnerable, and he owns that moment completely. I think that if Damon and his mom had ended the conversation by cursing each other out, he’d have owned that, too. This is what I meant when I said that Naked Snctm didn’t feel like reality television. We are in a space with Damon that feels intimate. It’s just unclear whether he considers it intimate. It’s unclear what intimacy means to him, which makes it harder for us to find our footing with it.

Also in the fourth episode, Damon goes on a date.

He’s been set up with a lovely woman named Violine. They’re enjoying a glass of wine and some conversation, and Damon tells us in the confessional that Violine has no idea what he does. He says the experience is refreshing. I know that feeling all too well. I’ve been on that date myself, before the guy across the table knows I write erotica. I treasure the moment when he looks at me and sees the girl he met at Petco or the attorney who works downtown, the one with the weird sense of humor and an unfortunate taste for disco. There is no way to know, without telling him, whether that guy would date a woman who writes erotica. So I know Damon’s desire to preserve the bubble, where he’s just Damon, a guy Violine met through a mutual friend.

But then Damon tells Violine what he does. On the first date, just after telling us how wonderful it is just to be Damon. He explains to Violine about Snctm and his role in it. He asks if she could date a man who did that for a living. Violine touches the napkin to her lips, and I know the answer is no before she says it.

Did you forget the preorder? Don’t forget the preorder. Click here!

I am reminded here of the monkey trap.

In the historically problematic miniseries Shaka Zulu, Edward Fox’s character Francis Farewell describes the monkey trap to Henry Cele’s King Shaka, leader of the Zulu nation. The trap is a gourd with a narrow neck, baited with something monkeys find tempting, like a piece of fruit or a shiny object. The monkey can reach into the gourd with no problem but he cannot withdraw his closed fist. To escape the trap, all the monkey must do is surrender the bait and open his hand. But monkeys won’t do that. Indeed, I saw a film the other day in which a trapped monkey frantically yanked at the gourd, desperate to flee the hunter but unwilling to relinquish his shiny prize.

I’ve come to realize that Damon is caught in a monkey trap. He himself observes that Snctm has cost him dearly. He’s lost his marriage. He’s leaving messages to speak to his daughter. It’s complicating his love life. He needs an IV to get out of bed.

But he won’t let go of it. While the club’s revels seem like the heights of sexual abandon to an outsider, Damon explains, “for me, it’s how I understand love. Sex is love.”

Snctm is Damon’s answer to some deep-seated question. It is the proof to some equation locked within him. It feels like a purpose and a solution to him, and with so much of himself wrapped up in it, I’m not sure what would remain if he let go of it.

He’s at home with his choice, and you all know that I stand for respecting a man’s choice. But I can’t help but see a gourd with a narrow neck, baited with something shiny.

Follow Lady Smut. We’re full of surprises.

I want to give you a hug for getting this far! Instead, I have two announcements.

I will be moving to a monthly post starting this month. Look for me on the first Friday of the month, beginning in October, and I promise to look for you, too. You’ll still get everything you’ve come to know and love from me — whatever that might be. You just won’t be seeing me as frequently.

Also, we at Lady Smut will be starting a new feature this week: Throwback Thursday. As we settle into this sophisticated new format, we’ll be featuring some of our greatest hits every Thursday! Tune in and get yourself a history lesson.

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!

In Praise of the Wild Man

16 May

Be honest. Are you really that attached to civilization?

By Alexa Day

Civilization. It’s a nice place to visit, but living there has its ups and downs. So many rules. Conventions. And it’s insidious. You might not think you play by society’s rules, but if you have an opinion about the man bun, you are closer to society than you suppose.

Enter the wild man. The unprincipled savage. He might be a little unkempt — hell, sometimes, he’s downright filthy. But he can be a breath of fresh air.

You guys thought of Daryl first, didn’t you? Don’t lie.

Daryl Dixon, of The Walking Dead, is proof positive that the wild man has a hold on civilized lady viewers. Daryl doesn’t even exist in the graphic novels upon which the show is based. Indeed, he all but admits that his life before the zombie apocalypse was basically non-existent. No job. No purpose. And yet we threaten to riot if harm should befall this person with no history.

Daryl’s an unrepentant redneck, in the best possible way. While others whine about the quality of canned food post apocalypse, he’s good with a squirrel or a snake or half of a rabbit from a few days ago. And he takes some measure of pride in being filthy. Avoiding a long overdue shower in Alexandria gave him some pleasure, I think.

But we love the Dirty South’s dirtiest representative because he’s genuine. His code is his own. He’s not one to just say something to make a person feel better. (He lied to Carol once, sure, but he did it because he was the only one to recognize that she was too vulnerable for the truth.) He can relate to civilization without being swayed by it, so when he makes a moral judgment, people listen to him. And he has so little regard for polite society that it’s heart-squeezing to watch him getting attached to anyone. There might not ever be a place in our civilized world for Daryl. But when he makes a space in his loner’s heart for someone, it’s a pretty big deal.

Wilder than Daryl and yet inexplicably clean is the ultimate wild man, Tarzan. Unlike the redneck with the heart of gold, Tarzan was once part of high society. He’s chosen to spend his life away from civilization, both European and African, and make a solitary home for himself in the jungle. For the women of his day — well, for some of them, anyway — Tarzan presents a potent lure. He’s an attractive, virtuous man who won’t force them to respect civilization’s restrictive rules because he doesn’t live that way himself. He lives far from anyone who would judge, shame or diminish him, and his chosen mate would share that world with him. Everyone — well, almost everyone — wins with Tarzan.

Because Romancelandia is, above all things, a world of abundance, many species of wild men populate its pages. Bearded mountain men. Tattooed bikers. Bare-knuckled fighters. Shifters of all kinds and varieties. All guys with both the will and the ability to carry us away from the many, many pointless worries and concerns that fill our everyday lives, despite our best efforts. Once the wild man’s gotten hold of us, we’ll forget all about that nail appointment, or whether we might have worded that email differently, or if the chicken breast is going to defrost by the time we get home. Okay, he’s not the sort of guy to arrange for top-shelf bottle service at your local high-end strip club, and I definitely want to make that happen at some point. But once your savage boyfriend makes all those frivolous distractions disappear, who knows what wild ideas might take their place?

Might I suggest a little nude photography? One of my wilder adventures.

Click right here to get your vote on!

Speaking of wild adventures, this week is Suspense and Thriller week for the RONE Awards with In D’Tale magazine. My esteemed colleague Kiersten Hallie Krum is among the finalists for this year’s awards, with her book WILD ON THE ROCKS. Pop over to vote for her this week, and be sure to score your own copy of this hot story about a beach bartender and the SEAL who loves her. It’s only 99 cents. Isn’t that wild?

And because I want you to win something, too, make sure you collect our various wild confessions this week for a chance to win $10 in spending cash over at Amazon. You like spending cash, right?

Follow Lady Smut.

Hey, Girl, Sharing Is Caring: Why Sharing Secrets Is Cool, Sexy Fun

2 May

This couch is not big enough for five people. That’s just the way we need it.

By Alexa Day

By now, you’ve probably heard that Lady Smut is at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. Oh, yes. Right now.

You’ve probably also heard that we’re going to have a party on Wednesday. It’s called NEVER HAVE YOU EVER EVER. And it’s a chance for you to share your naughtiest secrets for the shot at some awesome prizes.

Some of you are uncomfortable with the idea of telling a lot of strangers your naughtiest secrets. You didn’t even need to hear what the prize was, although I’ll get to that at the end of the post. That’s fine. If I stand for anything on Lady Smut, I stand for your right to choose not to do anything you don’t want to do. And don’t worry, you will still have lots of chances to win something.

But I’m also big on making you answer the tough questions.

Today’s tough question is this: Are you sure you don’t want to tell a naughty secret? Not even one? Not even a not-that-naughty secret?

Just consider these ideas.

Secrets can be fun. Secrets are intimate. Secrets build relationships.

Secrets are sharing, and as you know, sharing is caring.

Let’s demonstrate with a fun game.

I want you to imagine me, your faithful correspondent, sitting in the middle of the world’s longest fainting couch. Kind of like the one above, but much bigger. Almost big enough for five grown people to sit next to each other.

On my left are two really hot friends. Let’s say Mark Strong and Tom Hiddleston. In the past, they’ve played such fun games as “let’s kidnap Alexa with our super-expensive car” and “How to be Wicked,” and this will be much less risqué than either of those. Unless they don’t want it to be. I don’t know. I didn’t really ask about that.

On the right are two more really hot friends. Let’s say Ryan Gosling and Idris Elba. They’ve never played one of these fun games before, but like I said, this is not a totally inappropriate game like the others. In fact, I bet if Idris knew about our game, he would volunteer to play.

If you want, you can imagine your own fainting couch. Just pick your own hot friends, because these four are sitting with me. Come back when you’re ready.

Ready? We’ll start with Mark.

I’m going to slide over one spot to sit next to Mark, who wants to tell me a secret. Sharing a secret is going to require me to be physically close to Mark. Possibly close enough for our shoulders to touch. Or our thighs. Whatever makes you comfortable. I want everyone to be comfortable.

Mark is also going to have to put his face pretty close to mine so that I can hear him but Tom can’t. I created this couch, so it’s almost big enough but not quite. I’m not crazy.

And now Mark is going to have to lower his amazingly sexy voice to tell me whatever is on his mind right now.

Consider the warmth of that point of contact between me and Mark. Mark’s accent is curling around my ear. All the baby-fine hair on the back of my neck is rising toward Mark.

It almost doesn’t matter what Mark says at this point, right? I mean, I’m going to pay attention and everything, but the sheer physical giddiness of the secret itself is pretty compelling.

And I wouldn’t be so close to Mark if he didn’t have a secret to share with me.

Is your earspace going to be all warm and tingly from Mark’s secret?

Nope. Mark is sitting with me. But if you’re willing to hear a secret or two, one of your hot friends will do you the same favor.

Once Mark has wound up and I’ve assured him that whatever he said is in the vault, Tom decides that he needs to tell me something, too. This is perfectly normal. I mean, I have a face like that, but it’s normal for a person to seek out an especially trustworthy person for the disclosure of confidences. Sharing secrets makes you that trustworthy person. Just think about that.

It looks like fun and games to us, but Tom has a lot on his mind. You could be there for him. If he were not sitting with me.

Tom and I really are just friends. I think he’s a sweetheart, but I’m not attracted to him at all, and no, he cannot sit with you now because he is still sitting with me.

I’m going to be a little firm with you. You need to find four really hot friends who are not sitting with me.

Anyway.

Physically, I’m as close to Tom as I was to Mark. Similar point of contact, accent curling around the ear, the whole thing. I have to imagine that Tom is one of those guys who smells really expensive. Once Tom is done telling me whatever he’s got to tell me, he’s going to pat my knee in a we’re-friends kind of way and say, “Now, that’s just between us.”

Stop.

How did I get to be part of an “us” with Tom Hiddleston? I let him share a secret with me. Disclosure of confidences can make you part of an “us,” too. You want to be part of an “us,” right? Sure, you do.

But not with Tom. Tom is sitting next to me.

Be picking your own friends while I go sit next to Ryan.

Ryan and I have not been friends for as long as Mark, Tom and I have, which is to say that I have never involved him in one of these imaginary games. That’s actually just fine with Ryan. See, Ryan has something that’s wearing heavily on his heart. He wants to tell someone, but he’s concerned he will be judged.

Ryan’s best bet is to tell a total stranger whatever is bothering him so much. He doesn’t know that I won’t judge him. As far as he knows, there’s still a chance I will leap to some conclusion about him. But he thinks he’ll never see me again, so who cares what I think about him?

“Hey, girl,” says Ryan. “You want to hear something crazy?”

The answer to this question should probably always be yes. There are some exceptions, and they will leap out at you when they occur. But my advice is to say yes whenever you can and figure it out later. This is what has worked for me.

“Sure, Ryan,” I say. “What’s going on?”

And then Ryan purses his mouth up in that Ryan way and leans over to tell me whatever he needs to tell me so badly. We don’t know each other all that well, so we’re probably not as close together. But one only has to be so close to Ryan Gosling, right?

When Ryan has told me his secret, which is not as troubling as he thinks it is but would probably bother someone out there, he is in a place of vulnerability. It’s an opportunity for me to share some strength with him. Reassure him that I’m not shocked at all. I know he’s a good person. I’m sure no one will think anything about this. Then I’ll give Ryan one of my best reassuring hugs, and we will both feel better. One of us will feel a great deal better.

Want Ryan Gosling to hug you?

Too bad. Ryan is sitting next to me. I feel like we have to keep going over this.

Want your own hot friend to hug you? Open up. Tell your hot friend a secret. A secret can make a safe place for new friendships.

Before Ryan can get uncomfortable with the length and intensity of this hug, I’m going to let go of him and move over to Idris.

Don’t let Idris play this phone crap with you. He can sit on the couch like everyone else.

Idris and I are going to have a conversation first. I get the impression that he’s an open book. After all, he sent a picture of himself in a state of undress to the entire Twitterverse when he intended to send it privately to his girlfriend. He sought out some brutally honest dating advice from little kids. Idris probably doesn’t have anything buttoned up deep inside him.

This is good news for me. It means I get to tell Idris something.

“Hey, you know what?” I say.

“What?” he says.

Go back and imagine that again. Make sure you have the accent right.

“What?” he says.

Now, I have to initiate with Idris because it’s my secret. So I have to lean over and put my face up against his and whisper something to him. Something complicated. No need to rush through this.

Once I’m done, I’m going to lean back again. Then Idris is going to tell me a secret. Hey, why not? We’re all friends here. Let’s be friendly.

So Idris is going to lean over to share a special point of fact with me. Same point of contact, same curling accent, the whole thing. And why? Because quid pro quo. Show me yours. You know the tune.

Am I saying that Idris Elba will lean over close to you to whisper in your ear once you share a secret with him?

No. Are you paying attention? Idris is sitting next to me.

But you can find your own roomful of friends tomorrow at the Lady Smut Never Have I Ever Ever Ever event. Some of them are probably better with sharing than I am.

Not at RT this year? It’s cool. We will have lots of crazy, sexy cool things happening right here on the blog. I promise.

And if you’re not following Lady Smut already, now is seriously the time. Your secrets are safe with us.

Tiaras. Fetish toys. Tiaras. Smoking hot books. Tiaras. And goodybags for the first 100 people in line. It’s the Lady Smut Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever event. And it’s on Wednesday afternoon at 1:30.

You’ll be glad you went.

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