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Monday Morning Meeps

17 Apr

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

That’s “meeps” lovely Lady Smutters, not “Peeps”.

I get the confusion, especially on this Easter Monday when, if you’re a person who celebrates the Easter holiday (which I am) you have church and family (and wine because of the same) hangover like nobody’s bidness. This is also the day Easter candy is half off everywhere, praise Jesus, so Peeps are definitely more front and center of one’s mind, those lovely sugar confections that look so adorable right before you bite off their heads.

Perhaps, that’s just me.

My standard post-Easter, half-priced stash is usually chock full of Cadbury eggs (mini and regular sized) and Starburst jelly beans because YUM.

Alas, this year my Easter Monday hangover is more melancholy tinged than Moscato flavored. This was my first Easter without my mom who passed away quite suddenly in January. Easter was her most treasured holiday and she raised us to infuse it with the same importance and fervor. We always come home for Easter–even when I was student at Oxford, I came home for Easter. As her care-giver for the last nine years, I found myself particularly at a loss the need to logisticate the trappings of the holiday for us. (Yes, that’s a made-up word; No, I don’t care.) For the first time in memory, I only had…well, me.

Meep.

This loss has not only infected my holy day, it’s also been a drag on my motivation and general impetus to do or accomplish anything. My day job keeps me busy, but downtime is peppered with a lot of boredom, Facebook haunting, and general staring at the walls. A lot of this is absolutely normal, and I get this, I know this, but finding ways to function and move forward when the structure of my world has forever been altered is–look, it’s fucking hard, okay? Not exactly a revelation, right?

Maybe I should’ve called this post “navel-gazing Monday”.

Life keeps moving on, trite but true. It boggles my mind. Surely, the world should be different. This cataclysmic thing has happened to my family, to me. The sky should be a different color, right? The earth should missed a shift in its rotation, yeah? Lord knows, my world certainly has shifted irrevocably. How can everything just keep…moving on? I still have deadlines. I still have blog posts to write (even if this one is late today–sorry, gang). I still had Easter and soon Mother’s Day (save me from Hallmark holidays) and ultimately my birthday and further on Christmas. I still have dreams and wants and needs to do and go and be.

I still have a story of which I am yet its heroine. One that is far from finished no matter my lack of motivation.

Despite efforts to the contrary, I spent Easter Sunday morning with my proverbial cotton-tailed butt in bed with breakfast and my kitties watching STAR WARS: Rogue One. It had its own kind of holiness and in hindsight, was exactly what I needed, a wee bit of wallowing with some comfort crutches. We all cope in our own unique ways. Mine, apparently, requires space ships and heroes. That, too, is hardly a revelation.

Follow Lady Smut. We’re happy to be your comfort crutch whenever you need us.

 

Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Win crowns, fetish toys, books and more. Goodybags to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30.

 

 

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, WILD ON THE ROCKS, is now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

Reasons To Bang The Bad Guy, Pt. 1

13 Apr

by Madeline Iva

Saranna DeWylde got me thinking yesterday about why we’re so attracted to awesome villains like Loki. Because we are. I am.  Before I unleash my perverse romantic side, let us be clear: I’d never go near an evil dude in real life.  (I can’t help thinking of this guy who said to me in college: Women only like assholes, never the good guys.  No, David, most of us like the good guys.) That said…here’s the break-down on why we are simply fascinated with depictions of excellent villains and their equally hot cousin, the anti-hero.

(What is an anti-hero but a villain who was so damn attractive he was morphed by popular demand into Super-Duper Flawed Guy.  Examples: Damon on Vampire Diaries, Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sawyer on Lost — I could go on and on and on…)

From a romance perspective, a great, charismatic villain provides hideous temptation to fantasize.Their are specific qualities that particularly tempt us.  Let’s explore them, shall we?

THE VILLAIN AS A FANTASY OBJECT OF REDEMPTION:

  1. We especially like a villain with teeny bit of good in him: Romance readers are always willing take a small nugget of goodness and blow it up into something mate-worthy–even heroically substantial. Readers feel this especially for good looking men.  Would that we were as kind to women*** Anyway, Jamie Dornan playing Paul Spector in THE FALL is a serial killer, but also a loving dad to his daughter–therefore, it hurts when his world is falling down around him at the end and he has to explain to his daughter that he’s not going to raise her anymore and probably not see her again. There’s not the usual feeling of satisfaction that he’d been caught for his evil deeds and is going away for forever.  (I think the point originally was to show the audience that he’s victimized his daughter as well–but there was such an intense depth of emotion to the scene that it mutated into something more complicated, intriguing, and relatable.)
  2. Villain as misunderstood– underneath his/her reprehensible actions, there’s a world of hurt in that villain.  The villain needs someone to kiss the boo-boos and make it better. Frankenstein’s monster just wants to give the little girl a flower. Is it his fault she passes out from fear and people mis-construe the way he carried her off? He’s just MISUNDERSTOOD PEOPLE!
  3. Villain as a fish out of water – Loki fits this — he’s a fish out of water in Valhalla.  He’s intelligent and incredibly powerful, but despite his talents he’s not the leader–he’s not even one of them. Despite his strong call to lead, he’ll never get the chance because he’s a cuckoo in the nest. He’s all twisted up from the git go cause of the lies and things that were hidden from him – none of which is his fault. And frankly, NO ONE CARES to make it right with him. All paranormal monsters are always a fish out of water when it comes to normality–even when normality is being an immortal god in a giant hall at the end of a rainbow.
  4. Villains as victims/victims of betrayal:  Sebastian Stan was cat nip as THE WINTER SOLDIER in the movie of the same name.  Inside that weird bromance-core was an understanding of Stan’s plight: He can’t HELP IT – it’s not his fault—he’s been brainwashed!!!!  And those lips, yi.  Meanwhile, James Franco in Spider-man loved his father, and was blinded to the truth by his father, because his best friend and father both lied to him. The ending of the first Spider Man is drenched in irony through Franco not realizing that his virtues (his loyalty to his father) means his best friend becomes his worst enemy. I remember watching the first movie long ago and liking Franco in his proto-villain phase far more than anyone else in the movie even before Franco became a big deal.

    James we hardly knew ye as Harry Osborn.

  5. Villain as vulnerable: we relate to flaws A LOT. A top-notch villain can is as much a prisoner of his past and deep psychological needs as anyone else.

    Kylo Ren is angsty, unstable–ready to crack open and bleed pain. Yum!

  6. For some villains, happiness is just so close–yet so far away! Show me a villain who has the chance to change and I’ll show you a riveted romance audience.  The best villains often have pain they cling to that goads them towards doing evil–and when there’s a chance the villain might back off from this emotional sticky point before the point of no return oh, we are in our happy place! That’s how you know romance audiences–we want happy endings for anyone we find interesting.

NEXT WEEK: VILLAINS & OUR FORBIDDEN DESIRES

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.

***Women on the whole are a lot more unforgiving towards other women than they are towards men. I think with a romantic perspective and therefore believe that my readers view worthy, hot men as objects of romantic conquest/relationship projects. At the same time I believe almost all women are still socialized to be harshly judgmental when it comes to other women–especially those depicted in romance novels.

Is that statement upsetting? I would never want to accuse someone unjustly of sexism, but even I fall down when taking the quiz below–see how you do:

  • Name three women you know personally who sleep around a lot, but you DON’T think are sluts
  • Name 3 woman you know who doesn’t prioritize their kids but you don’t judge them as neglectful moms
  • Name three women you know who have some kind of authority over you or someone very close to you that you don’t think of as busybodies or annoying bitches.
  • If you read a romance novel about an unmarried woman, who is intensely focussed on her career, and doesn’t want kids, or to take care of the people around her–would you see her as a role model? Or would you think she’s too selfish and unlikeable for a romance heroine? Now if the character was switched to a romance hero, would you also think he was selfish and unlikeable?

 

 

Bang-able Villains

12 Apr

Hello Lovely Readers! Elizabeth Shore is away today. Instead, we have a happily edgy post from the amazing and kick-ass Saranna DeWylde here.  I asked Saranna to do a guest post after I saw this exchange on facebook:

Yes! Exactly!

So I asked Saranna to talk to us about why we women are sometimes (often?) a bit more interested in a really good villain than they are the hero.

I absolutely love a well-constructed villain. I don’t mean an anti-hero, I like them, but this post is all about the E-ville. Is that a misspelling? Not at all. Say it out loud, roll it around in your mouth. You’re not a good villain unless you have the mustache-twirling pronunciation. Maybe even a bit of goatee stroking. You know what I mean?

No, I didn’t. 

When I first think about favorite villains, Hannibal Lecter comes to mind, but he’s not really a villain anymore, is he? In the television show, he’s more of an anti-hero.

 

Is he??? I haven’t seen this show, but I’ve heard so much about it…Check out the preview above.

What especially interests me about villains and their bangability is societal reaction and what we deem acceptably attractive in people. No one thinks anything about me saying I’d like give Darth Vader a run for his money except to say that maybe his parts don’t work in that suit. I maintain he could probably give really great orgasms with The Force. A little breath play, and pretty much whatever else he wanted you to feel. (Is it getting hot in here, or is just me?)

Old Darth does it for Saranna, Kylo Ren is all tortured and interesting to a new generation.

If I say I thought Paul Spector was hot from The Fall, I’d be one of those twisted girls into serial killers. But I know real serial killers. I was a prison guard. I hung out with them for eight hours a day, sometimes sixteen. None of them look like Jamie Dornan. And none of them were ever the least bit attractive to me.

Which is not to suggest that because someone is physically handsome in real life he’s NOT a serial killer….Tiago Henrique Gomes da Rocha

(Incidentally, I didn’t crush on Jamie Dornan until The Fall.)

Fictional evil is attractive. There’s a nod to everything that’s not the ideal. That’s not a princess. That’s not perfect. And part of us wants them to win because that means we can too. A charismatic villain makes so much easier to acknowledge our own sins, see our own dark places, and we can empathize with him in fiction, because we don’t have to own our massive flaws for real.

I find when a hero holds up his virtues it’s much harder for me to say, yes…that’s me too. The writers of Luther posited through show dialogue that women specifically were attracted to evil men because we were able to claim some of their power for our own. There might be something to that.

While we’re at it, I kind of have a type. The Devil. Almost anyone can play The Devil, and that’s an insta-girl boner. Hell, this could probably comprise most of my list. Apologies to Tom Ellis in Lucifer, though. He’s hot, but he started out an antihero so he doesn’t make my list. So pretty, though.

Tom Ellis as Lucifer

With that said, let’s open our Slam Books to

Top Eleven Villains I’d Bang.

Not ten, because I’m being contrary in honor of our villains. (After, you better share yours, too, or I’m not going to share my slap bracelets.)

In no particular order:

Darth Vader– As I said before, he could do some crazy shit with The Force. I just keep thinking about that choke hold. Amirite?

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), American Psycho– That might actually be bad sex. I’m not so much down for the coat hanger and he’s so arrogant, he’s probably terrible in bed. I think I really just want to pet his shoulders and his hair after we eat at Dorsia.

Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), The Fall– Well, I mean. C’mon.

Paul Spector in The Fall, aka Jamie Dornan

Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek), From Dusk Till Dawn– Everyone wants to let her bite them. Everyone. She’s single-minded in her approach to food and any other pleasures. I support this wholeheartedly.

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), The Wolf of Wall Street– I’m not sure if it’s the part where he says, “the book, motherfucker) or if it’s because he’s unrepentant about what a piece of shit he is, and I don’t know if I’d think the real JB was attractive, because he did actually hurt people. But his characterization? Yeah, I’d hit that.

Lizzie Borden (Christian Ricci) Lizzie Borden series– Here’s a woman who isn’t taking shit from anyone. She knows what she wants, and isn’t afraid to take it. Whatever the cost.

Viggo Mortenson, The Prophecy– His portrayal of the Big D is one of the best ever. He’s not meant to be attractive, yet, somehow still is. He’s horrible, and awful and I love every second of it. “Little Tommy Daggett. How I loved listening to your sweet prayers every night. And then you would jump into bed, so afraid that I was under there. And I was!” Really, do you promise? Please?

Gabriel Byrne, End of Days– Gimme. (I also dug him as the priest in Stigmata, but he was sort of a hero there. Kinda. It doesn’t count.)

Mark Pellegrino, Supernatural– He’s almost an anti-hero. But not quite. Just enough… I love his character so much.

Sam Neil, The Omen Part 6400-I don’t know. I just can’t help myself.

Bradley James, The Omen TV series-He doesn’t want to be bad, he just is. And when he finally owns it? Boo yeah. Bring it, handsome!

Anyway, those are my eleven for the moment. My list is ever-changing, but I’d love to know which villains you’d like to lock in your bedroom. Tell me in the comments below.

Want more Saranna? Check her out on facebook, or sign up for her newsletter at her website. Tomorrow I’m responding more to Saranna’s post — check it out!

And follow us at Lady Smut where we’ll happily explore your dark side all night long.

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.

As Young As We Feel? Considering the Younger Man

11 Apr

Don’t laugh. One person’s pacifier is another person’s sex toy.

By Alexa Day

I’ve never been one to do things just because other people are doing them. I’m content to let everyone else jump off the bridge our mothers told us so much about.

But now Cindy Gallop has me thinking about dating younger men.

I often struggle to explain who Cindy Gallop is and why her opinion matters so much to me. My knee-jerk response is usually, “Cindy Gallop is life! Cindy Gallop is a hero!” You all are probably looking for more than that, though, so let’s get you some facts.

Cindy developed Make Love, Not Porn, a video-sharing platform through which participants can upload videos of themselves having real-world sex with their partners, and stream videos posted by others. Her search for investors demonstrated that people are generally uncomfortable with openly supporting sex-positive businesses. But years of success in a male-dominated field (advertising), along with an understanding of how women do business (we “share the shit out of” the things we like), have made her quite an influencer in the realms of sex, gender, and business. Cindy once said she was the first person to include the phrase “come on my face” during a TED talk. In fact, I wrote about her at the 2014 Romance Festival, where she rocked my world.

Cindy has dated younger men for years. It’s part of the reason she came up with MLNP. Her younger partners learned everything they knew about sex from porn, to everyone’s detriment. MLNP, which bills itself as “pro-sex, pro-porn, and pro-knowing the difference,” offered viewers a more realistic set of videos to learn from. Or just to enjoy. You know, the days are getting longer as the seasons change.

When I first heard the MLNP origin story, I remember shaking my head and thinking that’s what comes of dating younger dudes. Now I’m not so sure. Now I’m starting to think it might be a good idea.

And it’s not just because I’m getting a little older myself.

I tend to be more about the older guys. They’re more established. Their self-confidence comes from life experience. They know who they are and what they want.

But Cindy says much of this is also true of younger guys … and they’re really good in bed.

This January, in New York Magazine, Cindy wrote “Why Sleeping with Younger Men Is Best — No Matter How Old You Are.” In the article, she said her primary criterion for choosing a new man was a simple one. He had to be nice. Everything else followed from that. No need to worry about what he thinks of your body — he’s a good guy. Your emotions are safe with him. When you make sure you only date the nice ones, she says, you’re only spending time with the men you respect and admire. “You meet younger men who appreciate everything about older women,” she says.

That makes sense. As much as I want to tell myself that they only have to be nice if we’re going to talk afterwards, I can see how having a nice partner, how making that a priority, would reduce unnecessary stress and make for a more pleasant experience. Even if this isn’t going to lead to a relationship, having a good person as a partner just makes things easier and, according to Cindy, sexier.

About the sex. According to Cindy, the sex itself is the icing on the cake — stamina, confidence, and short recovery periods — but icing is important, even when the cake is pretty damn good. Now, the older guys are pretty spectacular in their own way. Far fewer of them, I would wager, are still looking to porn for technique. Years of experience have made them creative. They already know what they do well. Still. Maybe there’s something to be said for a little more physical prowess and dare I say, a touch of innocence?

While a lot of women might avoid revealing their bodies to a younger lover, for fear of what that hardbodied fellow might think, Cindy doesn’t have that problem. Of course, it helps that Cindy has boatloads of self-confidence. She’s not all that concerned about what any man might think of her body — she thinks she looks fantastic. Besides, she’s not going for those superficial souls who might have something to say, since her rule is “nice guys only.” She’s also not trying to get married. Wedlock and children have never been part of her master plan. Her chain of younger lovers, in short-term and long-term relationships, is the romantic solution that works for her. She doesn’t have to worry about any one man’s opinion for any longer than she wants.

Cindy says society tends to approve more of older men with younger women. I wonder, if that’s true, why the general public has so much to say about older women with younger partners. Is it the old discomfort with women being single at a certain age? Is it the sense that an older woman is more in control of her life, and by extension, her relationship? Is it our prudish society rebelling against a grown woman’s choice to have a younger sex partner, with all the superficial frills and thrills?

Damn, is it just jealousy?

One thing is for sure: the disapproval of prudes and nosy people isn’t going to stop Cindy Gallop. It never has.

Maybe that’s why I’m considering taking a page out of her book.

Follow Lady Smut … all the way to Atlanta! Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Win crowns, fetish toys, books and more. Goodybags to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/event/never-have-you-ever-ever-ever

Your Naughty Secrets = Sex Positivity!

5 Apr

by Madeline Iva

You know, even a Miz Vanilla like me — someone who’s been with one partner for almost a thousand years — can look back on my past and shake my head at a few of the things that I’ve experienced.  How about you?

Meanwhile, there’s nothing like some really down and dirty girl talk to take “Did I really do that?” into the hilarious realm of sexually bold myth-making.

Although the down and dirty stories can happen in a mixed-sex setting, there’s something instantly reassuring about being in the middle of a group of mature women sharing.

WHICH IS WHY–

Lady Smut is hosting a party at Romantic Times Booklover’s convention in Atlanta, GA.

HERE’S THE PLAN:

We gather at the event.  We share epic sex-capades, we laugh, we give you prizes.

It’s not just fun — it’s sex-positive.  No sluts, no slut shaming.

NO SEX — NO EXPERIENCE — NO PROBLEM!

Yet sometimes these things run the other way.

Sometimes the extremely experienced realize it’s their time to rule, and they start making those who are less experienced feel less-than.

None of that at our event! We’ve got prizes for the queens of chastity as much as anyone else.

Here are the deets:

Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever

LadySmut bloggers are hosting an event at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7.

THE RULES: We’re going to play a game where everyone stands up to begin.  Then we ask you a series of questions starting with “Have you ever–” Answer ‘yes’ and stay in for the next round.  Answer ‘no’ and you’re out. It’s that easy.

Win crowns, toys, books and more. Goodybags to first 100 people in line! A raffle will be held for a big basket of books for all.

Event: Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m.Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/event/never-have-you-ever-ever-ever

Click on the link above — let RT know you’re coming.  Then follow us at Lady Smut, where you can tell us anything. ; >

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.

The Uncomforatble Intimacy of Audio Books

3 Apr

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Last week, Lady Smut blogger Madeline Iva titillated us with tales from the Virginia Love Fest panel with the men who read romance…or perhaps that was just me. Had I been there, hearing the one guy say most of the time, “it’s like: ‘Up on the hog babe, let’s go for a ride.'” would have generated a mini-orgasm on the spot. I won’t lie. But I haven’t entirely made it through the accompanying video of the panel and here’s why: it all kinda makes me squishy and not in a good way. I too dig the deep and sexy man reading voice. Hoo. Shah. Maybe that’s the whole problem.

This is the thing about audio books, something I wholeheartedly support and appreciate. I don’t listen to audio books. Like, at all. I like music when I drive, mostly because I get into a zone and let my brain works on its own pathway, especially on long trips. When I have listened to books while I drive, I do a lot of rewinding because I miss things due to zoning out. Then, if I’m listening while commuting to the day job, I don’t want to stop once I get there (providing it’s a good book, and it almost always is).

A few years ago, I went through an audio book stage. I got all the Outlander and all the Harry Potter books on CD from the library and, one by one, loaded them first onto my compute and then onto my iPod. (Then, shortly after, my brand new iPod crashed and I vowed never to buy an Apple product again, but that’s another story.) I listened to each and every one of them and I loved them. How had I not been listening to audiobooks all this time? This was the BEST THING EVAH.

Mind you, this was before Wispersync and Kindle Fire and the Kindle app–I don’t even think smartphones were all that common at the time either. It was big, expensive CDs that you were better off getting from the library. As  I did.

So I was hooked. I got some murder mysteries out and continued “reading” in this way.

Then I tried a romance.

Big mistake. Huge.

I got Linda Howard’s Cry No More from the library and plugged it in. Here, for the first time, I had an audio book with two narrators, a man and a woman, each reading the POV chapters for their respective hero and heroine of the story.

I was a huge Linda Howard fan in the 80s and 90s but hadn’t read her in a long while, so I thought I give this a chance. I didn’t like the book at all, it’s slow and boring, and maybe that’s because I was listening to it and not reading it in my own mental voice. The narrators were competent, the story just dragged.

And then came the sex scenes, read in both the male and female narrators voices. Together.

It majorly squicked me out.

Romancelandia deals with a lot of crap accusations of being porn for women, an accusation to which a vehemently object. Listening to the audio version of Cry No More, I had to check myself. Because I felt like I was listening to porn. Transferring the sex and romance scenes from the page to real men and women reading the words for me, out loud, transformed the entire “reader” experience for me and not in a good way. I was disturbingly turned and seriously uncomfortable, but not in a “damn, that was a good scene” way, rather in a “I should not be listening to these two people bang” way.

This, I think, is the uncomfortable intimacy of an audio book. When we read, it’s private. We’re in our own heads imagining our own versions of what were reading, what the author has crafted for us to sink into. When it’s suddenly read aloud, it’s completely different (duh, right?), and I wonder now if that difference transforms the material and/or the experience into something else. Especially having a man read the hero parts, like boy! howdy! does it make the goings-on super intimate. Like I was right there and not as a participant. Welcome to Voyeursville via audio books.

Now, I’ve changed a lot in the years since I listened to Cry No More, and I can’t say that I’d have the same reaction I did back then, but that reaction was strong enough that I haven’t had the desire to listen to a romance or any other sort of book since.

Back in April of 2013, Lady Smut blogger Elizabeth Shore wrote about her uninspired experience with audio books. She had a much less satisfying experience.

“Taking the first point, about the performance, leads me to think that the romance audiobook clip I listened to made me feel squishy because the performance was as enthralling as watching paint dry. Or perhaps, in this case, listening to paint dry, meaning there was no performance whatsoever. The reader made the decision to be dry and unemotional. It may work for some, but for me it was a complete snooze with a dash of discomfort. If the hero is baring his soul and revealing his issues and declaring his love well, damn it, I want emotion.”

For her there wasn’t enough intimacy offered by the reader/performer. For me, too much.

Thinking about this post this week made me realize how readings of our own books aren’t that much different. I did my first reading last summer at The Ripped Bodice bookstore in Culver City, CA for the Orange County Lady Jane’s Salon. I was beyond thrilled to burst my live reading cherry at the only romance bookstore in America. I had an absolute blast. One man even said that even though it wasn’t his kind of book, I was the best reader and had the best content of the four of us authors who read (but he’s my sister’s partner, so he has to say that).

But I also chose a scene to read that would make my story seem enticing (and had swear words and naughty talk, because, it’s me) but it was not a super sexual scene that would squick people out to hear read live and in person by the creator (aka, moi) and/or make my face turn red against my own internal wishes. Dang physical reactions!

Our own Rachel Kramer Brussel wrote last year about why she reads her erotic romances to live audiences.

“I’ve found that audiences are incredibly hungry to hear people talk about sex in public in an honest, open, unashamed way. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or nonfiction, or what the exact details are: if you stand up in front of a crowd of people and are talking about getting naked, people will listen.”

Well, yeah. Duh again. But people who attend erotic readings are indeed prepared for what they get and are going for those reasons. Of course, if you’re listening to a romance novel as an audio book, you should know that you’re going to get the same heat in your ears that you once consumed through your eyes. And having the many, many intimate and sexual scenes in the Outlander novels read to me didn’t bother me one iota. It was adding in the male narrator and having the narration become a two-pronged, back and forth exchange complete with inflections and emotional heft–I need a cold shower stat.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all in any way shape or form against audio books or suggesting they’re porn or inferring that we shouldn’t have romance novels on audio. Surely, you know me better than that by now. Only that I, for one, was shocked but the unexpected intimacy that came from listening to a romance novel and it made me so uncomfortable, years later it’s made me have zero desire to listen to another.

I guess I like reading and talking about my romance…I just don’t want to listen to it. Which, judging from those male book readers, is my very big loss.

Coming to the RT Booklovers Convention? 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. Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/ event/never-have-you-ever- ever-ever

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, WILD ON THE ROCKS, is now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

Cross-Dressing Dudes Getting In Touch With Their Feminine Side

29 Mar

By Elizabeth Shore

Let’s say you’re a guy, perfectly comfortable in your guyhood. You rock a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with the best of them, you love a good bicep and pec workout, and Mr. Johnson definitely pays attention to a beautiful woman. But in addition to your typical male tendencies, you also have a hankering to paint your toenails pink, strap on a pair of 4-inch stilettos and slink around in a pretty dress. What’s a cross-dressing guy to do? How can he learn to walk in heels, properly apply make-up and embrace his feminine self? Fear not – help is available. Introducing Miss Vera.

“We live in a time where gender is an option.” So says Veronica Vera, a.k.a. “Miss Vera,” founder and dean of Miss Vera’s Finishing School For Boys Who Want To Be Girls. Founded 25 years ago in New York City, Miss Vera and her fellow “deans” – each of whom has a particular specialty – are an oasis of help for cross-dressing men. Becoming a student at this modern-day finishing school means a guy can learn how to moderate his voice to achieve a more feminine pitch, properly style his hair and/or wig, strut his stuff no matter how high the heel, and apply make-up to transform and bring out his inner diva.

Miss Vera’s ultimate goal, according to a video on her website, is to “increase the awareness of your options as a human.” In other words, we’re not relegated to living strictly as our biological birth would dictate. Instead, we can be ourselves with whatever gender we identify. “Average Joe” during the day, “fabulous Joanne” after hours. No need to struggle over how to make it happen. Miss Vera’s academy will show you the way.

Aside from achieving the desired physical look, the finishing school also offers courses that bring the closeted cross-dresser to the streets. How to shop, dine, even feel comfortable using the ladies’ room are all in the offering. It’s not just about looking and acting the part. Miss Vera’s teaches her eager students how to “be” a lady.

When musing on being a crossdresser, one straight, cross-dressing guy wrote in a blog post on cracked.com, “What most of us want more than anything is validation of our femininity.” Miss Vera’s Finishing School seems to understand that well, as their motto is “cherchez la femme,” or “look for the woman.” The goal, as stated on the website, is to “allow your femmeself to open you up to the world, not isolate you from it.”

All this gender acceptance is cool, but what if you’re the spouse or significant other of a cross-dressing guy and are struggling to understand and be supportive? Working with couples is more common than ever before at Miss Vera’s. Being the partner of a cross-dresser herself has helped her develop deeper insights into the psychological and emotional challenges of similarly situated couples. In consultation with them, she’s discussed topics such as role-playing, communication, children, and bisexuality.

It’s interesting to note that the straight guy in the cracked.com article made sure to point out that his interest in cross-dressing isn’t at all a sex-based need. As he says, “It’s a look, not a fetish. … It also took quite awhile to come to an understanding that dressing to feel sexy didn’t make dressing sexual.”  He’s not bisexual; it’s not a kink thing. The dude just wants to bring out his sexy side by looking and dressing like a gal.

Despite today’s broader proclivity toward identity acceptance, finding out your guy fancies wearing lacy panties can be a couple crusher for many. Certainly within our romance book world, gender benders are primarily women dressing as men, and usually in historicals where a woman is trying to do something available only to the guys. To be sure, a romance with a bad boy alpha male, the leader of a motorcycle gang, for example, would be a hard sell if the reader learns that the dude likes wearing fishnets beneath his jeans.

But perhaps that’s an assumption. What do you think? Does a cross-dressing straight guy a believable hero make? Sound off in the comments. And if you’ve got a good cross-dressing romance to recommend, let us know that, too. Here at Lady Smut, we’re never at cross purposes in talking about romance.

Elizabeth Shore writes both contemporary and historical erotic romance. Her newest book is an erotic historical novella, Desire Rising, from The Wild Rose Press. Other releases include Hot Bayou Nights and The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires

 

 

Heroines of Destiny!

23 Mar

You could go to college and get married — or you could be a brown fairy with wings instead! Choices, choices, choices.

by Madeline Iva

Go to college, have a career, get married, have children.  Is this the modern woman’s destiny? What if you don’t tick one of those boxes? I’m moderating a panel called HEROINES OF DESTINY on Saturday, 10AM at Virginia Festival of the Book, so I’ve been questioning the concept of destiny lately, especially for women who swim against the strong current of societal expectations.

The ancient Greeks thought of destiny as inescapable–your fate would find you no matter what.  Struggle as hard as you could against your destiny, the outcome would still be the same.  Cassandra is the ultimate heroine of destiny — Her inescapable fate was signed the moment she rejected Apollo’s advances, and that was that.  He cursed her with the gift of prophesy; no matter how often or how much she warned people of their fate, she was never believed. Yet she kept trying to over and over to change the outcome, only to watch events play out the way she foretold–even her own death.

Moving forward a thousand years or so, our panelists (including Pintip Dunn, NYTimes bestselling YA author) will discuss how their book’s heroines are fighting a certain destiny — whether it’s to marry and have children, to accept the loss of a lover, or to remain locked up in prison for a crime that hasn’t been committed yet.

I love the idea of a heroine who changes the course of her life because she’s fallen in love.  I see these works as feminist because the women go against the grain of their lives according to society’s expectations yet it all works out in the end.  Here are some of my fav fantasy examples:

THE LITTLE MERMAID: having fins while your loved one has legs is a pretty big romantic obstacle to overcome.  The Little Mermaid was very bold and plucky when it came to pursuing the object of her love–right down to changing her fundamental physical being–even though she had to pay a very large price.  Let all those considering plastic surgery and other gendered forms of modern torture beware.

STARTDUST: Yvaine is a star, who’s destiny is to twinkle in the sky and watch the doings of men from afar.  Yet she decides to abandon her place, and come down to the world of men to explore their hearts, as well as experience their joys and suffering.  I have some serious issues with parts of this novel/movie, but I appreciate the idea of a great and powerful star forging a new destiny for herself–with the man she loves.

Yvaine is a star who rocketed to earth and met her one true love.

Another way to think of HEROINES OF DESTINY is to think of powerful women who shape the lives and change the future of those around them.

THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD: Sybel is content with her own solitude and magical menagerie far from the world of men until fate brings her a baby and a flame haired hero.  Then she is drawn into the snarled paths of men’s destiny.  I love how McKillip shows Sybel, using her various powers to shape and thrust aside the male forces around her rather than become their pawn.  Sybel takes her time and sounds her own heart in her decisions about how to forge the future.  Though the world of men shakes and angers her, ultimately, she finds a way to shed their petty resentments, fear, and bitterness. She finds her way to true love by the end, yes, but more importantly she discovers the path back to the calm stillness of her heart that makes her serene and content.

Sooooo good!

And finally — by far and away my favorite:

MALEFICENT: A fairy creature (Maleficent) and a boy become friends–the first way in which Maleficent goes in a different direction from the other creatures in fairy land.  At one point Maleficent (now grown) is betrayed and loses her wings–a kind of symbolic fairy tale rape.  What happens after that is partly shaped by Maleficent’s determination to avenge herself, and partly shaped by her wounded heart.  The movie offers an unexpected twist at one point — wherein Maleficent, now the wise protector and leader of her land in times of crisi, can shed her identity as victim once and for all.  I LOVED THIS FILM SO HARD.  It really made me want to cheer.  Though it is not in a typical m/f  love story or romance, it provides that same kind of deep joy and overcoming of obstacles that make us romance peeps so very happy.

In my novel WICKED APPRENTICE, Zephyr averts disaster for the people and the land all around her once she becomes a powerful sorceress.  Meanwhile, her desires and magic work upon the hero until he goes from being a tortured, reclusive wizard into a magnificent hero who is the only one that can end a decades long war. She is most definitely a Heroine of Destiny — and if you haven’t read the book yet you should– it’s only .99!

Are you the heroine of your own destiny? What great heroines do you love –and how do they shape the the lives of those around them?

And follow us at Lady Smut–we’re fated to be together.

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.

“Exploited” Bikini Babes Serving Coffee?

22 Mar

By Elizabeth Shore

If you ever find yourself in Kent, Washington and are hankering for a cuppa joe, you could head over to the local Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee. They’re as tried and true as the day is long. Coffee and a pastry and you’re good to go. But what if the same ol same ol isn’t your style? What if, for example, you like cleavage with your coffee? Some pasties with your pastries? Well, fear not, friends. There’s a place for that, too. Introducing Bikini Beans Espresso. As their logo states, “Coffee’s never been this HOT!”

Bikini Beans, as you’ll see from their Instagram page, is far from a normal coffee shop. To start, even the name is a bit of a misnomer. Bikinis? Not entirely. Pasties are the preferred form of “on top” adornment for the servers, with bikinis strictly relegated to the nether lands. Male baristas? Fuhgeddaboudit! Babes only, please. And those babes include owner, Carlie Jo, who isn’t shy about splashing pics of herself all over social media.

In addition to promoting the shop, Carlie Jo stated in an article in The Sun that being a Bikini Beans barista is empowering. “We have the right to work with grace, confidence and dignity,” she states, “regardless if it’s in a business suit, scrubs, or a bikini.” Right on, Carlie Jo. Not everyone, however, shares her views. A councilman in Spokane, Washington has been trying to push forward legislation around limits at bikini coffee stands popping up around the state. Just what exactly those “limits” are isn’t clear, but one can surmise they’re related to puttin’ on some more clothes. Some moms in the area, as shown in this ABC news report, share the councilman’s views.

The councilman states that his proposed legislation is “for the children,” as well as trying to curb the exploitation of women. However, a female barista at Bare Beans Espresso, another bikini coffee stand in the Spokane area, states emphatically that she feels neither demeaned nor exploited. In a YouTube video about the controversy surrounding these risqué coffee stands, store manager and barista Allison seems to share Carlie Jo’s views in feeling “empowered” by working in little more than pasties and a string bikini bottom. And she adds, “No one is forcing me to work here. I choose to.”

That, perhaps, is the rub. By definition, exploitation occurs when someone uses or takes advantage of another person without regard for that person’s interests. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it this way: “to use someone unfairly for your own advantage.” In that vein, can it accurately be said that women working at the bikini coffee shops are victims of exploitation? How about waitresses at Hooters? Beautiful women on magazine covers? The unifying feature is that they’re willing participants. Making the argument that someone is being exploited becomes problematic when the person wants and chooses to do what he or she is doing.

The other primary concern around the coffee bikini shops is from some who feel it’s inappropriate for kids to see scantily dressed baristas. Yet I wonder if those same concerned parents keep their kids safely hidden from the beach? The community pool? Lots of skin in those places. Is this protecting kids, or is it reinforcing the same tired message that the human body is shameful and best covered up.

For the record, there was a male-staffed bikini coffee stand in Washington called Banana Hammock. Hot beefcake dudes either shirtless or clad only in suspenders were serving up hot brews and awesome views to what appeared to be a primarily female clientele. Did the male baristas feel exploited? Demeaned? Apparently, we’ll never know. Yelp is reporting that the Banana Hammock went bust. Same with another place called Hot Cup of Joe. Women went there, according to the posted reviews, but not enough of them. Hot Cup of Joe has been rebranded Whip It A-Latte and is now staffed with…you guessed it…bikini-clad female baristas.

So prevalent are the bikini barista coffee shops in Washington and surrounding area that there’s even an online guide so you know where to go for sizzle with your steamed milk. But if cleavage and coffee isn’t your thing, there’s always Starbucks.

Elizabeth Shore writes both contemporary and historical erotic romance. Her newest book is an erotic historical novella, Desire Rising, from The Wild Rose Press. Other releases include Hot Bayou Nights and The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Endings to the Bachelor

16 Mar

Huzzah! Rachel Lindsay–The first POC bachelorette.

by Madeline Iva

I saw the very first season of the Bachlorette while packing for a Big Move to the South.  I made it through a few seasons after that because I was fascinated by watching grown women aggressively fight for the attention of one man–while pretending not to. So deliciously perverse! Alexa Day posted about the announcement of the latest bachelorette on Tuesday, and the rest below is just one long riff about The Bachelor and other thoughts her post inspired.

I loved how the most interesting women (to me) on The Bachelor in the end ultimately had to be–I mean HAD TO BE–there for the money. (Student loans, I’m guessing.) Top ways to tell:

  1. They were very popular with the other women in the house. This, I think, is a key sign. But at the same time, they didn’t seem to have a secret boyfriend at home, or were there for some kind of acting career –and thus could dodge the “you’re not here for the right reasons” attack.   (BTW has anyone ever gone up and attacked a contestant saying “You’re just here to pay off your student loans—aren’t you, bitch?”)
  2. Often they would acknowledge being on the fence about their feelings for the guy. Why? Because they weren’t that into Mr. Available.  This only helps them not seem like a threat to the other women, of course.
  3. The fact that they weren’t so into the bachelor often seemed to make the bachelor far more into them.  Like he wanted to chase them hard.  After all, for most men, chasing is their comfort zone.  (Some of us are challenged when it comes to being adored.) Logically, enlightened men *know* it’s okay for a girl to chase a guy.  But they’re not actually comfortable with it.  It’s not their usual pattern–and sometimes breaking patterns feels odd.
  4. Because these women were just “passing time” to earn their paycheck, they could neatly avoid conflict in the house with the rest of the women–and work on soothing things out.  This is where their attention was.  It’s like they reguard the other women in the house as their fellow co-workers and wanted to be team players more than they were actually vying for the heart of one man.
  5. There’s almost an instant, quick and quiet break up following the conclusion of the show when one of these women was chosen.  The fact that a break up would immediately follow seemed like wonderful karma to me.  That’s what you get, you bachelor guy, for going for the girl that’s “not that into you” and ignoring the ones who were good people and desperate for your man-love.

At any rate — I’m glad that the show chose a POC bachelorette.

But I gotta wonder: how is this show going to continue to appeal to any but the most conservative audience? Because with polyamory becoming an accepted thing amongst all the hipsters and millenials, doesn’t the idea of picking ‘the one’ seem just a wee bit old fashioned?

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being a monogamous type of person (I’m one myself). I’m just saying that when the Batchelor says “OMG, I’m in love with BOTH of these women” is this still the shockingly upsetting drama that it used to be?  Aren’t twenty and thirty somethings across the land saying “And? This is a problem why?”

Or–a more radical theory still–was the repetition of season after season of The Bachelor/Bachelorette actually paving the way for widespread polyamory across our heartland over these last ***seventeen*** years by making TV America overly familiar with the idea that one person can easily fall in love with two (or more) people at the same time?  I mean, think back to when polyamory started becoming a thing–right? Amiright?

I’m just waiting for the season when the Bachelor/Bachelorette decides to propose to *both* women or accept a proposal from *both* guys.  Now that would be a ratings booster.

Maybe if this this new bachelorette says yes to a black man AND a white man we can all have our cake and eat it too.

MEANWHILE — Idris Elba for Bond.  Seriously.  Accept no other substitutes.  Unless it’s Tom Hiddleston.  Then we’ll have to talk.

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.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

 

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