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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).

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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.

First We Take Atlanta: Countdown to Romantic Times (WOOT!)

27 Apr

ONE WOMAN WILL RULE THEM ALL– WILL IT BE YOU?

Next week we celebrate our first LADY SMUT PARTY event at Romantic Times on Wednesday, May 3rd, 1:30 pm. Here’s what to expect:

NEVER HAVE YOU EVER EVER is a fun party game.  Guests will complete against each other. (Or sit around and giggle while eating brownies.)  We’ll ask the questions–women will raise their hands to share just what they’ve done in the dark.  Or in a moat.  Or on a boat. –You get the drift here.

There are DOOR PRIZES — the first hundred people to arrive get wrist bands, and a pretty gold mesh bag with swag and a gold body chain.

DO NOT BE DISMAYED by how skinny these models are. We’ve got body chains from UNBOUND that will fit you!

WINNERS: We’re awarding victory to the most inexperienced as well as to a set of brave sexual adventurers.  There are many prizes.  (I’ll give you a hint: they all vibrate.)

There are CROWNS for the winners and runners-up –sequins, crystals, and feathers–oh my!

Okay, our crowns aren’t ***THIS*** fancy, but they’re really fun!

There are RAFFLES.

The first raffle prize is for a box from Unbound. (I’ll give you another hint: it vibrates for a lonnnnng time.) Hey, check out their website–they’re so totally cool.

The second raffle prize is a giant box of books.  All those who didn’t get in line early enough for a goodybag get a ticket for this prize.  You get your book box raffle ticket at the event–but the raffle winner will be announced here on the blog that evening. Ooooh, the drama! 

MORE BOOKS: We’re also going to have free copies of our books on hand–stacks and stacks of them.  We’re going to have copies of other author’s romance books as well.  You get to take them home with you.  Win, win, win!

Who will you meet at this event? Lady Smut gal pals Elizabeth Sa Fleur and Isabelle Drake.  Who else? KRIS MICHAELS, best selling author of the Guardians Series, that’s who.

It’s gonna be swagalicious, baby!  Who’s joining us?

FEAR NOT RT ORPHANS!

If you’re like me and you can’t go to RT this year (and pouting a little bit 😦 ) there will be games that you can play RIGHT HERE ON OUR LADY SMUT BLOG where you can also win prizes next Wed, Thurs, and Fri.

In the meantime, follow Lady Smut. We do whatever the party demands.

We’re LESS THAN A WEEK away from our big event at RT.  Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7, for Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30.

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.

 

 

 

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.

Sexy Saturday Round Up

11 Mar

Welcome to the weekend! We’re here to urge you to fall back into bed, plump up those pillows and enjoy yourself with a good long read of all these fascinating links.  Where’s the coffee?

From Elizabeth Sa Fleur:

Where oh where to put all my sex toys?

Dominatrixes who are “Whipping America back into shape, one middle aged white man at a time.”

From Madeline Iva:

How your masturbating can help your sex life (but maybe not his masturbating)

When your partner dies, there goes the sex too.  Grieving the loss of sex.

You’re looking for Noir-Murder-Mystery-Romance–but just what ARE you looking for? Smart Bitches Trashy Books chews on this topic with various recommendations.

Women squirting during sex is an old thing that’s a new thing:

Now a slightly different take from Jezebel–Shejaculation: How I learned to stop worrying and love the gush

Women are better at day to day multi-tasking, men want to disagree–but they’re too busy holding the baby while trying to make dinner and talk on the phone.

Tracee Ellis Ross is loving her booty.

While this dude has beard envy.

I sobbed. Scientific American gives us the story of NASAS real “human computers” the women Hidden Figures is based upon.

From Elizabeth Shore

Creepy victim-shaming Canadian judge decides it’s best to resign after questioning why a rape victim couldn’t just keep her legs together.

And the #1 porn search term worldwide in 2016 was…

So you think you know what men like in women best? Read here for the list (hint, it’s not what you think).

Oh my, was that ancient Han dynasty ever a kinky bunch. Giant jade dildo, anyone?

Just in case you want to feel worse about yourself, Tinder’s working on “Tinder Select,” that’s invitation only for hot, rich people.

Another reason to have lots of sex – it’s good for your career.

 

 

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.

Kinky F*ckery in 50 Shades: Interview with Jackie C. Horne

11 Feb

Ladies—Jackie from ROMANCE NOVELS FOR FEMINISTS is here with me today to delve deeply into the core themes of the 50 Shades phenomenon. We focussed on two questions:

Why do women love this fantasy?

Two reasons I love this fantasy--and they're big and blue.

Two reasons why I love this fantasy–they’re big and blue.

Does 50 SHADES represent a step forward in women’s sexual freedom—or a step back?

If you like 50 Shades and smart discussion – you’re in for a treat!

MADELINE IVA: I’m very interested in focusing on what it is that draws women to the 50 Shades fantasy…

JACKIE C. HORNE: To answer that, you first have to answer the question “what is the fantasy” that these books and films hold out to us? And that fantasy may be different for different readers and viewers. As a literary critic, I see three different fantasies at play in books 1 & 2. First, the fantasy that an ordinary girl (ordinary in both looks and intelligence) can catch the attention of a wealthy, handsome man (the cornerstone of much romance writing).

Second, the fantasy that said ordinary girl can rescue/save an emotionally messed-up man (again, a foundational trope in romance).

And finally, the fantasy that indulging in “kinky fuckery” is something to take pleasure in, rather than something to be ashamed of, even for an ordinary girl. The latter fantasy is the most progressive one, the most positive one as far as women’s rights and women’s sexual freedom goes. But the two former ones are what makes it safe, I think, for readers to accept the latter one. It’s the combination of all three that made the books such a phenomenon. Romance tropes as the life preserver, if you will, that allow readers to imagine themselves swimming out into the less familiar waters of sex with a touch of kink.50

MADELINE IVA: I’ve never heard it stated so well, Jackie! We’ve touched upon this topic before: I see the role of BDSM in the romance genre as representing a fundamental evolution in the role of consent.  Women are now asking for the sex they want and negotiating with their partners for sex that they want –or don’t want!–tons more than they used to.  I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts about this after watching the first movie.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I think this depends on the reader’s relationship with BDSM and the BDSM community. In the book 50 Shades Darker, when Ana is talking about Christian’s sexual needs with Christian’s psychiatrist, Dr. Flynn explains that “of course there is such a thing as sexual sadism, but it’s not a disease; it’s a lifestyle choice. And if it’s practiced in a safe, sane relationship between consenting adults, then it’s a non-issue” (412). If you are a reader who is a sexual sadist, or who is familiar with the BDSM community, then you’re probably going to find 50 Shades problematic when it comes to consent. The reason why I didn’t read these books until you asked me to participate in this discussion was because I had heard from romance writers who write erotic & BDSM romance that the books aren’t an accurate depiction of BDSM or of the BDSM community.

MADELINE IVA: True, but there’s a crap-ton of fantasy in BDSM erotic romance already. Inaccuracies abound and many fans want the fantasy—not the reality. (Esp. when it comes to sex clubs.)

JACKIE C. HORNE: If you’re not familiar with BDSM, though, if you read the consent to kinky sex not as a realistic possibility but as a metaphor, then yes, it can definitely be a metaphor for female consent.

It takes Ana a while (all the way to the end of book 1) to figure out what she wants, and doesn’t want, out of her sexual relationship with Christian. She’s up for bondage, up for spanking, up for lighter sexual pain, all things she never would have imagined she’d liked before she met Christian.

MADELINE IVA: Yes! And in the movie — what we see dominates what we hear. What we SEE is Ana enjoying lite kinky play…In the book, which is so much internal, her confusion and ambivalence take center stage.first-kiss-50

JACKIE C. HORNE: But in the book’s climactic scene, she realizes that she is not up for being punished, for being the object upon which Christian takes out his anger. Refusing to consent to the linking of love and male anger, the idea that male anger is always a part of male love—that may be the key shift from Old Skool romance novels to contemporary romances.

MADELINE IVA: This is a great interpretation, and I agree that if the fundamental message is not to accept male anger as a part of male love, that it’s a good one.  But I don’t know….(more on that later.)

What I saw as I watched that final scene in the first movie was her seeing his emotional pain and wanting to take on his pain — like a martyr.

Meanwhile, Cara McKenna is my touchstone for an author who shows consent VERY well without bogging down the plot or making us fall out of the fantasy.  50 Shades maybe does this less well, but it might be interesting to contrast how consent is carried out in the movie vs. the book.

JACKIE C. HORNE: Did you think there were major differences between book and movie in this regard? I didn’t notice any myself, but if you have specific scenes you can point to, I’d be happy to go back and re-watch the film again.

“Please, Ana, let me make love to you.”

“Yes,” I whisper, because that’s why I’m here. (50 Shades of Grey, 113) 

MADELINE IVA: I’m thinking of the contract stuff.  In the movie she was actively negotiating with him face to face and crossing out elements she vetoed. It seemed like there was energy to this exchange. To me this showed strong female agency — and have we ever seen a woman in a film before negotiating over sex so thoroughly? (Excepting scenes with sex workers–and even then not so much.)

In the book, meanwhile, the contract seemed (this is my interpretation) a packet of doom.  It seemed to make her cringe, and the details dwelt upon had to do with total control over her as well as painful sex acts.  It dragged her down into a pit of (again my take)  “No, no, no, no, OMG. Am I going to have to do this stuff? Gah!

JACKIE C. HORNE: Oh, yes, the contract scene is so great in the film! It shows Ana being far more empowered, and really enjoying the negotiating with Christian. Many film reviews cite that scene as the best thing in the movie.

In the book, the language of the contract appears not just once, but four times (at least in part). Is it just sloppy writing, that repetition? Or is there something really important in that legal language to James? The idea that this is a business relationship, rather than a personal one, to Christian? Which is an idea that Ana ultimately cannot accept.

MADELINE IVA: I’m interesting in talking about Jamie Dornan as a man/actor who was a kind of reluctant participant himself in the movie.  Yes, he did it for his career, and didn’t have long to think about his choice.  Also he is most definitely NOT a fan of the life style.

Dakota Johnson seems to have adapted a bit more (maybe because it’s the corner stone of her career?)

There are interviews where Dornan apologized profusely to Dakota Johnson before each take.  Do we care as much about male consent as we do about female consent? Is this going to be a problem? (Is it one already? Can men refuse sex without having their sexuality challenged, or facing aggressive repercussions –even if not physical violence?)

JACKIE C. HORNE: Your questions make me think about 15-year-old Christian, at the start of his affair with Elena. Did he consent? He says he did, but Ana is consistently appalled by the mere thought of an adult woman inviting a 15-year-old boy to have (kinky) sex with her. Ana never asks Christian to tell her more about his experience; she instantly assumes that he had no agency, no ability to consent, that he was molested and abused.50-shades-shower

I was disappointed that the books, which initially reserve judgment on this issue (was Christian abused? Or was his relationship with Elena a positive, even life-saving one?) end up coming down hard on the side of abuse by the end of book 2. Rather than presenting Ana’s intense jealousy of Elena as misguided or immature, the end of book 2 reinforces the idea that Ana is right to be wary of Elena. I thought this a very sexist move, complete with bitch-slap for the erring woman (not by Ana, but by Christian’s adopted mother).

I wished we could have heard more about Christian’s experience with Elena, that Ana had been more curious rather than judgmental about it. In some ways, you could say that Ana is infantilizing Christian by refusing to grant that even as a 15-year-old, he might have been capable of making informed decisions about his sexual desires.

MADELINE IVA: And this goes back to the core fantasies.  What you saw as the ordinary young woman saving/healing the wounded man I saw as a kind of mothering thing — the power of soothing.  “Let me make the hurt go away” kind of actions.

No cigarette burn scars on his chest in the first movie. Whoops! They fixed it for the second film.

No cigarette burn scars on his chest in the first movie. Whoops! They fixed it for the second film.

JACKIE C. HORNE: The larger issue—about male consent in general—is an interesting one. Yes, a man who turns down a chance to have sex is still likely to have his masculinity, or his heterosexuality, called into question, even in this day and age. But a man who turns down BDSM sex, or feels squicky about it, there’s something different going on there. BDSM sex isn’t as widely accepted, as widely admired, as straight heterosexual sex; there’s a taint attached to it for many people. Wanting to dominate women is a big no-no in our purportedly post-feminist age. So not consenting to participate in Dom/sub sex, or expressing uneasiness or discomfort with having to act as if you enjoy it, can be read by many as a positive thing, an endorsement of more equal power during sex between partners. A women’s rights kind of thing, no?

MADELINE IVA: Well, I actually know men who say “whatever she wants sexually I kinda have to do” and that with one man it’s kinky stuff with his wife. He’s okay with it, because she enjoys it.  With another man it’s about his incredible discomfort playing out semi-rape fantasies with women he’s having sex with…I think part of his discomfort involves reinforcing the perception that in some way he LOOKS predatory, etc.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I haven’t heard similar stories from any of my male friends or acquaintances. But your friends’ experiences do show how men can be subject to (or even victims of) sexual stereotypes. (I’m in the midst of reading a book about a gay asexual man, and he feels quite similarly, that he is surrounded by the imperative “men always want sex”). No man, or woman, should feel like they HAVE to do anything, sex-wise, that they don’t want to do. Ever. I hope your latter friend can find women to date who won’t push him to play the semi-rape game.

MADELINE IVA: Yup, I agree. The singles world of dating, hook-ups, etc, is a jungle—the price we pay for more sexual freedom seems to be more social pressure about sex and displaying sexuality in increasingly artificial ways.

Part of the conundrum of playing up one’s sexuality is that some men I know have that bad boy vibe, but at heart they’re good guys. They draw women to them, but eventually hit an impasse when looks and who he is just doesn’t match her expectations.  In this film the bad boy is gradually revealed as a ‘good boy’ on the inside. So maybe there’s hope for my friends…fifty-shades-ball-1486048963

Moving on! Has Trump ruined billionaire romances? Or put a significant dent in them? I remember thinking: “Consent all you want young woman from a poor family. Once you’re in handcuffs in his home he could do anything he wanted to you and probably get away with it…” and I know this is a direct line of thinking from the news/publicity about Trump during the election…

Yet there’s always one side in the romance world shouting “IT”S JUST A FANTASY!” Is there a problem with saying it’s all just a fantasy? And what are we to do with the constant  demand from women for forbidden sexual fantasy? Should we be pragmatic and accept this?

OR for instance, (as one who grew up watching male fantasies of women in the media), do we understand that this has deeply impacted and harmed our culture?

JACKIE C. HORNE: I was recently interviewed by a reporter for the Village Voice, who asked if I thought the billionaire romance trend had contributed to the acceptance of Trump by many women. Rather than ruining billionaire romances, Trump might be the logical outcome of this romance trend. Because billionaire romances paper over the trouble that actual billionaires present, don’t they? Unlike saintly Christian, whom we only ever see engaging in business that is meant to help the powerless (donating food to Darfur; developing solar technology; donating money to the university to develop sustainable food programs), most real-life billionaires make their money through capitalistic competition, competition that often relies on shortchanging the average Joe (or average Ana) worker. To fantasize about a powerful billionaire falling for them, women have to forget or ignore all the other women (and men) upon whom his billions were built, and upon whom his continued wealth still relies.

And they also have to keep imagining that the only path to power is an indirect one, by being in a relationship with a wealthy man, rather than imagining that they could gain power themselves. Those are both fantasies that limit, rather than empower, women.

So I don’t buy the “it’s just a fantasy” explanation/excuse. What is the fantasy, and why are we having it? That’s a far more productive question, and avenue for exploration.

MADELINE IVA: I have no problem with this, only sometimes the liberal peeps can be as judgmental and shaming as conservatives without exploring the needs, frustrations, and context of those who are very different from them in terms of race or class.  If we could explore all of these issues without a dose of shaming, it would be nice.

But you know, scientific research on sexuality seems to indicate that what sexually turns us on seems to be fixed.  Maybe the “Why” of the fantasy and the turn on go back to that slushy mix of our evolution and what we were exposed to in our youth/teens and that’s that…Which takes us right back to your point about Christian’s first sexual experiences…

Let’s turn to talking about the differences between the first book and movie.  Some things just not translate well from book to movie? I don’t recall when in the book he showed up in Savannah that it was as big a deal to me.  But in the movie I had an involuntary “Stalker!” reaction. He seemed so much creepier in the movie.  Or is this just that I’m coming off watching him in THE FALL where he played a serial killer? ; >50shadesbathrobe

JACKIE C. HORNE: Funny, I had just the opposite reaction!

MADELINE IVA: — Okay, I hang my head and accept that I am having a post-The Fall Dornan experience.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I thought he was far creepier in the book than he was in the film. Dornan just smiled too much to feel like the controlling Christian of the books to me! (Must say I’ve never seen The Fall, though). The film cut out many of book-Christian’s more stalker-y/controlling moves—no mention of him moving her to first class on the plane without asking her, and he’s not so insistent about her eating all the time—so he didn’t come across as quite so control-freakish in the film as he does in the book.

MADELINE IVA: The eating thing.  Ugh!  It also made Ana seem SO PASSIVE and waify/victim-y.50-touching-lips

JACKIE C. HORNE: On the other hand, in book 1, when Ana teases Christian in an email “Have you sought therapy for your stalker tendencies?” he tells her (and us) that “I pay the eminent Dr. Flynn a small fortune with regard to my stalker and other tendencies” (290). This reassured me; I had thought from what people had told me about the books that they normalized stalkery/über-controlling male behavior. That Christian is actively seeing a psychiatrist about his issues sends the opposite message: that stalkery/über-controlling behavior is psychologically problematic. I was disappointed that Christian’s shrink did not make it into the film.

MADELINE IVA: Yes! Anastasia seemed to enjoy most of what they did a whole lot more in the movie than her internals showed in the book.  And did that tilt the scales of problems some people had with the book?

ana-shirt-2JACKIE C. HORNE: For all that we get so much of her internal thoughts in the books, Anastasia of the novels is a pretty empty character. That’s not a good or a bad thing; it’s just a way of telling a story, a way that allows the reader more easily to project herself into the novel than if Ana’s character had more individuality, had been more fully developed. Ironically, though we get little of her internal thoughts in the film, seeing Dakota Johnson up on the screen made her more of a person to me, an individual with thoughts and emotions different from mine, rather than just an empty placeholder for me to project myself onto.

The lack of access to Ana’s thoughts makes her wishy-washy-ness re: the kinky sex less apparent. I agree that in the film, she seems to enjoy the kinky sex more than she does in the books. And that made the story more interesting to me—the story of a woman exploring the boundaries of her own sexual desires.

MADELINE IVA: I agree that Dakota Johnson did a great job of seeming vulnerable and kinda raw in her own skin, but also very fluid and interesting in the kinky scenes.  She also just seemed older, which I found reassuring…

Going back to how this series explores typical/conservative romance values side by side with the more progressive idea of a young woman exploring kinky sex—Ultimately, Ana rejects kinky sex.  Do you think that this is on par with the other more conservative values of the book’s romantic tropes and again, makes it more safe for more conservative romance readers to accept it?  (Noting that this move seems to enrage many BDSM erotic romance authors more than anything else.)

Are we back to the “forced seduction” sexual tropes of the 80’s? In those romance novels it was okay for the woman to have sex in those situations because she didn’t ask for it… In the 50 Shades franchise, is it okay for Ana to explore BDSM-lite because ultimately she rejects it and therefore is still ‘a good girl’?

Meanwhile, what are we in the audience doing throughout the movie if not enjoying Ana’s engaging in forbidden kink?

weredoingwhat

We’re doing WHAT? Everyone seems to agree that both actors are much more comfortable filming together now. Not surprising, given the success of the franchise, and the boost to their respective careers.

JACKIE C. HORNE: Funny, I was thinking about what title I would give this discussion and came up with “Having your kink and condemning it too”!

I agree with you that Ana’s disgust with and rejection of the punishment aspect of Dom/sub play does dovetail with the more conservative values of the book’s romance tropes. Her rejection gives readers an “out,” a having your cake and eating it too safety valve. Which does undercut the progressive message to a large degree.

But on the other hand, Ana doesn’t rejects ALL kink (at least by the end of book 2). As I noted above, she enjoys being tied up, being restrained, being spanked. And in DARKER the book, she’s bugging Christian all the time to go back to the Red Room of Pain. Which doesn’t seem to me to be just about serving Christian’s needs; it seems to be a deep curiosity of her own about kinky sex.

Ana’s rejection of Christian’s sadism (and the book’s rejection of that label for him) enrages many BDSM erotic romance authors because Ana’s decision at the end of book 1 has a larger ideological weight: it tells the reader that the power dynamics in ALL Dom/sub relationships are both shameful AND are signs of psychological damage that needs to be repaired. Which is exactly the opposite message of current psychological thinking, as Dr. Flynn explains. Someone is a sadist just because he (or she) is one, not because he or she was traumatized as a child.

Perhaps Ana should pay Dr. Flynn (or another qualified psychologist) a visit to talk about her own ambivalences about BDSM?

MADELINE IVA: Perhaps!

Thank you Jackie SO MUCH for chatting with me! And readers, don’t forget our KAMA SUTRA giveaway.  All you have to do is hit our pink subscribe button above and to the right.

kama-sutra-giveaway

This giveaway includes massage oil, candle, soap, and lip balm.  (Continental US only!)

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

 

 

 

Fifty Shades Darker Celebration & Valentine’s Giveaway

9 Feb

by Madeline Iva

Are you going to see FIFTY SHADES DARKER this weekend? We are!fifty-ball

Well, Elizabeth SaFleur and I are. We’ve already got our tickets and we’re taking our spouses.  Not only that–we’re holding a celebration event on Facebook to chat with y’all about the FIFTY SHADES DARKER movie.  We hope you join us!50shadesshouldersleeping

Go to our event on facebook, press the *interested* button, then tell us what you thought about the movie:

  • What did you love? The actors, characters, settings, costumes, plot?
  • How did FIFTY SHADES DARKER compared to the book and the first movie?
  • Do you love billionaire romance themes in general? Or BDSM romances in particular? ; >

We’re also blogging about fascinating aspects of the movie here.  (Don’t worry, we’ll post everything over at the fb event too.)

  • Reasons Why Billionaire Romances Are Never Going Away
  • My obsession with Jamie Dornan
  • 5 Ways In Which Real Life Millionaires Aren’t Like Us
  • Jackie Horne from ROMANCE NOVELS WITH FEMINISTS will stop by. We’re discussing where young women are going with BDSM and how this is or isn’t reflected in the movie.
  • Joey Hill shares with us how to get kinky with her 10 favorite kitchen items.

50-shades-take-2

Admittedly, not all of us at the blog are 50 Shades lovers.  You might not be either — that’s why we have other smexy Valentine’s Day posts to offer you this month.  pantiesCheck out our posts on:

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

This Valentine’s Day weekend, we’re offering a Kama Sutra giveaway from Lux Aromatica that includes massage oil, soap, a candle, and lip balm.

To enter the giveaway, hit the SUBSCRIBE button on our blog now–it’s the pink button up at the top on the right–and fill out the form.  One random winner will be chosen from central Virginia where Kerensa’s stores are located and one random winner from the nation at large. (Continental US only, please!)

We look forward to seeing you all this weekend, even if you’re just stopping by to say hi. — xoxo

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

 

 

The Men Who Dare To Go There In Erotic Fiction

27 Jan

By Elizabeth SaFleur

The evolution of Viagra’s marketing from Bob Dole to 40 something men during football games (so now she wants it) has given me further insight into the degradation that women experience every day, living up to impossible standards of beauty and sexuality. ~Spencer Dryden

You pretty much have to love a guy who emails you the above lines in response to your interview request related to why he writes erotic fiction. And then when he—and other male erotic writers—jump in with other awesomeness, well, it’s hard not to let pride swell one’s little heart that these gentlemen are part of our book tribe.

Authors DaddyX, Spencer Dryden, Daily Hollow and Ian Smith graciously shared their experiences writing erotic romance and erotica, including why (oh, why?) they went there. Few men do. Let’s hear from the few, the proud and the brave.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Okay, guys, how did you get here? Why do you write in the erotic genre?

SPENCER DRYDEN: Nearly all my life I have been enchanted by female allure. I come from a time and background where anything sexual was obscured by a cloud of guilt and shame. When I reached my early 60’s (I’m 66 now) I gave myself permission to explore those fantasies through fiction as it would be much safer that trying to carry them out in real life. I have learned so much about sex and sexuality in the process, things I wish I had known as a younger man. A guy could learn a lot by reading my stuff.

DADDYX: To be honest—and I will be honest—being horny. And in appreciating the fact that I still felt sexy rather late in life. It’s what was always on my mind, even at 64 years of age, when I began writing erotica. Figured to document my libido before it went away.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: We love honest guys.

daddyx-cover

Good things come in plain brown wrappers. Daddy has stenciled a big red “X” on the cover of his new collection to warn the reading public. Open this book only if you’re ready for X-rated excesses beyond the ordinary. The five tales Daddy has chosen for this volume are X-tra outrageous.

IAN SMITH:  I read some ‘chick lit’ for relaxation, and enjoyed the development of the characters and the romantic story, but felt the lovemaking scenes were a bit tame. I decided to try writing this sort of story, but with rather steamier scenes. Sex is an integral and important part of most people’s relationships, and I thought it must be possible to be realistic without being ‘porn’.”

DAILY HOLLOW: I wanted to get back into writing fiction so a few years ago I googled ‘writing competitions’ and stumbled across Literotica. After reading a few stories I was like “I can totally do this.”

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: There’s that honesty again. You all come from different walks of life so I’m calling you my ‘representative sample.’ Here’s what I want to know. Why aren’t there more male authors in the erotic genre?

DADDYX: Hah! Momma X says that when a woman writes smut, it’s considered cute. A woman can get away with appearing something akin to adventurous without looking like a perv. Conjure a naughty picture of a cute girl, book in one hand, masturbating with the other. Isn’t that sweet? But a guy in a basement who can’t get a date, one hand beating Red Roger, typing like crazy with the other? Let’s just say it’s a different picture.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Okay, true that.

SPENCER DRYDEN: I don’t have a clue other than women weren’t seeing what they liked and have systematically taken over control of the ship. Very admirable. We need to get more male readers into erotica but I don’t see many characters I can identify with. Until men can identify with character and plot in erotica, what little fiction they read will continue to be action genres.

DAILY HOLLOW: I think because there are more female readers of erotica, so it would make sense more women would write it. Men (such as myself) tend to gravitate more toward action, horror, etc. Honestly, I very rarely read the genre, unless one of my friends has a new book or I am beta reading for someone.

IAN SMITH: There appears to be a widespread opinion that “men can’t write romance’” which I disagree with. Men feel romantic and get emotionally involved, probably in similar ways to women. Fewer men appear to write romance, or at least not under male pen names. I know the market for romance generally is predominantly female, and I can understand that people reading for escapism will typically identify more readily with their own gender.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So as a man, do you feel responsible or obligated to write erotica or erotic romance a “certain” way? Such as more respectful (or more blatant) in certain areas because people know you’re a man?

DAILY HOLLOW: Not really. I write what I feel, then send it off to the betas. I have never had anyone tell me my writing was derogatory or disrespectful.

plumbersotherlovers300

Plumbers and Other Lovers is collection of four short stories about tradesmen who find unexpected rewards in home repairs as they stumble into romantic encounters during the course of their everyday blue-collar lives.

DADDYX: Not at all. But I sure get told when I get it wrong. :>) Much of my experience in offering, receiving and observing criticism is through The Erotica Readers and Writers Association lists. I have acted as Storytime editor for either flash fiction or short stories for the past few years. There, I see varying perspectives of criticism and as many ways of interpreting the same work. Everyone has his/her own way of perceiving and receiving erotica. That’s one of the more intriguing aspects of writing in our genre. Everyone absorbs the material according to their own turn-ons and squicks. In fact, with all the variety out there, it’s a miracle a writer ever connects with a reader.

SPENCER DRYDEN: My writing reflects the way I feel about women, which is that I hold them in high regard, especially the way they can use their powers of enchantment.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: See opening lines above.

IAN SMITH: No, I try to write with my own “voice.” I like my male lead characters to be decent, nice guys, and be courteous to the women they’re involved with, but that’s at least partly because it’s how I hope I am myself. I find it difficult to imagine being anything else, but that might be something fun to play with when I feel more confident about my writing.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Do you find people hold you to a higher standard? Like a woman can get away with writing certain things, but a man would get his hand slapped for “crossing a line?”

DAILY HOLLOW: Not really. I have heard some male writers feel that way, but I have never encountered any issues.

SPENCER DRYDEN:  I don’t know if “higher standard” is quite the right term for what I feel. I have read lots of short form F/F erotica (which I love) as a way to improve sensual vocabulary. Often these stories move fast and feature plots that move quickly from initial encounter to sex. (Hi I’m a girl that likes girls. Oh I like girls too….begin humping) My stories have the same structure and character arc as F/F stories but my are frequently labeled as “stroke” or “only about sex.” So it’s more like a double standard than a higher standard.

DADDYX: Some of my characters can be despicable. I do have to work to tone them down upon occasion. Though assholes make for interesting subjects, there should be someone for the reader to relate to. Often the reader equates a character with the author, so I wouldn’t want to alienate readership of any sexual orientation. Despite everything as personal as squicks and triggers, I’d like my work to be universal; but that’s nigh impossible, considering that many people wouldn’t open an erotic book in the first place.

kings-captain-cover-1000x633

Paul is Hayley’s lover and now her leading man. But acting and portraying a hero on a period TV show takes far more than a suit of armour. He’s totally out of his depth, personally and professionally. Help arrives with dramatic lessons in leadership and courage, when strange events put him and his friends in harm’s way.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: And, you Ian?

IAN SMITH: I don’t think so. Well, aside from trying to write from a female POV and getting it wrong!

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: In general, men’s fantasies vary wildly from female fantasies. They experience sex differently in real life. Do you believe that colors a male author’s viewpoint when writing erotic fiction? Do you try to write something that will appeal to what females (the bulk of erotic fiction readers) want to read?

DADDYX: Wish I had an inside track for success with female readers. Any readers. It sure would be nice. Maybe then I could sell some books. :>) So here’s what I think:

Again, I can’t really say that I write to a particular gender. To me, it’s all about the story, no matter who’s reading. The plot has to be fresh, intriguing, and hold together. The story arc must be accessible, if not immediately obvious. I like to give my readers credit as intelligent people who will extrapolate content and subtleties by my prompts and suggestions. I don’t want to alter or conform my work to appeal to the lowest common denominator. By the same token, while I’m writing, I wouldn’t want to distract myself imagining my readers as any particular gender. I feel that engineering the delivery by gender could effectively limit scope in development of the story. I like to think of literature as universal.

That said, I also like to get my readers juices flowing, no matter their gender. Problem is, how would I know?

DAILY HOLLOW: I write what I feel. I’ve actually written a few F/F stories, and honestly my novella, Leslie’s Dilemma, may be my best fiction piece to date.

SPENCER DRYDEN: “I hope that female readers will find my male characters to be genuine and memorable. There are no billionaire bad boys, alpha males or self- destructive ego-maniacs in my stories. I feature ordinary guys who fall into the orbit of sexually assertive women. [As for a different viewpoint?] Absolutely. It’s why we are more visual and more mechanical in our fiction writing.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Confession time: Are you writing stories you wish would pan out in real life?

DADDYX: Heh. I’m 72 years old, for chrissakes. My fantasies will remain as such. :>) If Momma and I can achieve orgasm in the missionary position without injuring ourselves, we consider ourselves lucky. Best fantasy these days is a sexy dream. Or a trip to a thong beach.  In truth though, I often write situations I’d like to have happened. Other situations, not so much. Depends on the character. He/she may think like me. Or decidedly not.

IAN SMITH: In a general sense, of people meeting and forming solid, emotionally-fulfilling relationships, and having a few adventures along the way.

daly-hollow-book

Mark Jenson is a handsome, easy going man who enjoys drinking with his buddies and the occasional Myrtle Beach golf outing. Gabriella is a beautiful, yet intimidating Jamaican assassin who has nearly fifty kills to her credit. Because Mark unknowingly insulted a mobster’s daughter after they had a drunken night of sex, Gabriella is hired to end Mark’s life

DAILY HOLLOW: LOL, who doesn’t? I also try to throw a little personal experience in as well. I’ve been in several multi-racial relationships and have written a BWWM novella and short story. I’ve also had sex in public and one of my works in progress is going to have a scene where my MC has sex in a river at a popular college hangout. In my short story “Charlene’s Surprise”, my MC is tied up while his wife and her best friend “put on a show.” I guess that would be something I wish would have panned out in real life. 😉

SPENCER DRYDEN: I think fantasy; especially sexual fantasy is a very important part of a balanced life. Fantasy helps us set boundaries and then offers us a risk free way of seeing life on the other side of the boundary. In my case, through fiction, I can make love to any woman I want, my wife could care less and the woman even likes it. I think it would cause lots of marital difficulty if I were to ACT on my fantasies. I can also brutally murder people I dislike without fear of jail time.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Isn’t that the best? I digress… For you, what is the most satisfying part about writing erotic fiction?

DADDYX: Positive feedback. Connecting with a reader in an erotic endeavor. Nothing feels better than hearing a reviewer you don’t know say: “That’s the most erotic book I’ve ever read,” as has been said about “The Gonzo Collection.” Considering the aforementioned variety of erotic preferences (and the odds against of making that connection) the connection, once made, may be on some level equivalent to sharing sex with those readers.

SPENCER DRYDEN: When I see the whole story arc. I write most of my stories backwards, that is, I start at the end and work my way back to the beginning.

IAN SMITH: Readers telling me they enjoyed my storytelling. If they found it hot and steamy as well, that’s a bonus!

DAILY HOLLOW: Typing the words “the end.” One of the most challenging parts about writing is actually finishing. I currently have about five WIP going at once.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So, I guess in the end, it turns out all writers are alike!

Thank you, gentleman. Keep up the great work. Readers, below is how you can stay in touch with our male cohorts in sexy crime. And follow LadySmut. We know all the great writers…and lovers of sexy romance.

 Love Links

Daily Hollow’s Facebook and Amazon author page

DaddyX’s  Oh Get A Grip blog  (where he posts fortnightly with nine other accomplished erotica writers) and Amazon author page

Ian Smith’s Facebook, Facebook Author Page and Blog

Spencer Dryden’s Facebook, Twitter and Amazon author page

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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.

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