Tag Archives: Inspiration

Never Have You Ever Ever, sex-positive game, home and office edition.

12 May
mic

Can you believe they trusted me with the mic?

What do sweet tea, brownies, free books, prize boxes filled with sex toys, swag bags featuring sexy body chains from Unbound Boxes, and highly personal, potentially inappropriate questions about your sex life have in common? If you joined us at the raved about Lady Smut Blogger’s RTBooklover’s convention event, Never Have You Ever Ever, you already know the answer.

If you weren’t able to join us, no worries. You don’t have to wait until next year to play. Here is the Never Have You Ever Ever home and office edition. How do you play?

  1. Gather a group of your friends.
  2. Do a trial run to make sure they know how to raise their hand. Do this by asking, “Do you want to play this highly personal and potentially inappropriate game?” Anyone who raises their hand is in.

Now that they’re in, here are the rules:

  1. You ask a question.
  2. If their answer is “yes,” they raise their hand.
  3. If their hand is up, they are still in the running to win.
  4. If their hand goes down, they’re out.

Variation: allow game players to rejoin if their subsequent answer are “yes.” To do this, they simply raise their hand to get back in. Later, you can switch to sudden death.

Variation: add your own questions.

boxes

Unbound Boxes, filled with sex toys.

The first round is the sweetness round. Here, the sweetest of the sweet is revealed. The sweetness finalists who attended our RT event were gifted with a box of sex toys…but, maybe you could simply offer your winners the great, well-kept secret underground website that only very few people know about: PORNHUB.

Ready, set, read the questions to reveal the sweetest of the sweet.

  • Raise your hand if you’ve had less than 2 sexual relationships in your whole life.
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve NEVER given or received oral sex.
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve NEVER EVER tried masturbating.
  • Keep your hand up if you’re a vaginal virgin.
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve NEVER EVER EVER French kissed someone.

The second round is the naughty round. Who among you has done…if not all, a lot. Same rules. Hand up for yes. Down for no. Again our RT finalists were gifted with an awesome box of sex toys. What should you give your winner? How about a pad of paper and a pen, so they can start writing some steamy romances for us all to read.

  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever done any role-playing.
  • Keep your hand up if you have any piercings below your neck.

    hostess

    Hostesses Kris, Elizabeth, Isabelle & Stephy. 

  • Keep your hand up if you’ve ever intentionally seduced someone.
  • Keep your hand up if it’s not your bellybutton.
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve ever gotten or given a lap dance.
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve ever done any bondage or spanking.
  • Keep your hand up if you’re a member of the mile high club.
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve ever had sex with a younger person (by which we mean you were over the age of 30, and the person was at least 9 years younger).
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve ever had anal sex.
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve ever used a strap on toy .
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve ever interacted with a stripper or stripper–male or female.
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve ever had sex with more than one person at the same time?
  • Keep your hand up if you have been, or been with, a unicorn.
  • Keep your hand up if you’ve ever participated in an orgy.
  • Keep your hand up if you have a rumpus room at home.

There you have it, the official, abbreviated home and office edition of the first ever Lady Smut sex-positive game.

Start playing, folks! Share your discoveries and results in the comments! Follow us at Lady Smut! Subscribe to our saucy monthly newsletter!

-An Anthology of Romance and Horror-mediumIsabelle Drake writes erotica, erotic romance, urban fantasy, and young adult thrillers. Her latest story, BAIT, features a woman who hunts and sells zombies, can be found in the horror anthology GONE WITH THE DEAD.

Please keep writing, because the world wants your sexy words

20 May

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

This post was originally going to be about why tattoos are sexy, and I promise I will write about that soon, but instead, I wanted to give those of you who want to write, or have dreamed of writing, or do write but have doubted yourself lately a little pep talk. (For the record, I place myself in that final category.)

I know not all of you reading Lady Smut consider yourself writers, but I also know that almost all, if not all, writers start out as readers. There’s a huge overlap between the two groups, and so for those of you who’ve ever entertained the idea of writing but put it off because you weren’t sure of your abilities, or were nervous about what people would think because you write romance or erotica or sex scenes, or for any other reason, I want to say: the world wants your writing.

Now, that may sound grandiose, especially because I can’t guarantee that you will sell your writing or find a wide readership; nobody can guarantee that, and that’s okay. I can tell you that your writing is valuable no matter how many people read it and that if you put it out there, wherever “out there” is, someone will read it.

I teach erotica writing classes in person and online, and every single time I do, I’m struck by the fact that many of my students are taking a huge risk in daring to open themselves to a genre that is still often looked down up, maligned and misunderstood. There’s often a lot of fear about even putting down sexy words on their computer screen, let alone showing them to anyone else. But when they do it anyway, they are almost always amazed at how freeing it is to simply start unleashing the images and scenes and ideas that have been floating around in their head.

I was inspired today to share this pep talk by an essay novelist Jaime Clarke wrote at Literary Hub titled “Why I Quit Being a Writer.” Before I even started reading it, even though I’m not familiar with Clarke’s work, I felt a pang of sadness, because for me, writing has been the mainstay of my life, the thing that has gotten me through the toughest of times, that has allowed me to access other worlds and communities, the thing that has always grounded and centered me. After finishing the essay, I have a better understanding of Clarke’s perspective, and I respect it, but I also know that so many would-be writers quit before they start, or quit at the first sign of rejection, or let someone else’s opinion matter more than their own, and I want to encourage you get right back out there and keep writing, if it’s something that’s at all important to you.

That’s not to say writing is “easy.” For me, certain pieces flow out of me as if fully formed, and others are absolutely agonizing, each word one I have to search my mind desperately to conjure. Often, I have to trick myself into writing, daring myself to write a certain number of words or for a given time period simply to get my fingers moving, even if what comes out looks to me like gibberish. I’ve written short stories that have gotten published and when I’ve read them later, all I could see was where I wish I’d done things differently.

But that’s all part of the process. Our writing experience doesn’t necessarily end when we hit send or publish or see our name in print. While the words may remain static, our minds do not. There is always the next story, the next chapter, the next blank page to tackle.

For me, I find that when I start to compare myself with other writers, that’s where I start to falter. Whether that’s ogling their Instagram accounts or fancy blurbs or book reviews, the truth is, I will never be that person or able to write in their voice. I can certainly hone my craft, but at the end of the day, I can only write as myself—and that’s a good thing. That’s where your strength, uniqueness and individuality come into play, and where your words can shine and draw in readers who want to hear what you and only you have to say.

signing at Book Expo America

signing at Book Expo America

Last week, I attended book publishing convention Book Expo America (BEA) to sign copies of my anthology Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, and also to simply observe all the new books surrounding me and talk to others who are as passionate about books as I am. It would be very easy to get discouraged at such an event, to feel like such a small fish in such a giant pond that I might as well swim away and shut up. Instead, I made sure to truly connect with the many readers, writers, librarians, booksellers and distributors I spoke with, to feel grateful that out of the hundreds of thousands of books published each year, there were people who were excited about mine.

Back in March, Elizabeth Shore posed the question, “Should we be writing if nobody’s reading?” This post is my way of saying to you, whether you’re a multi-published author, a budding writer, or someone who’s never even contemplated picking up a pen, that yes, you should. Now, I’m not arguing that everyone is somehow obligated to write; not everyone wants to express themselves in that format.

Yet based on my experience teaching hundreds of erotica writing students, I have a strong feeling that the line between “reader” and “writer” is incredibly malleable. Witness all the erotic authors who’ve said that on some level, the success of Fifty Shades of Grey inspired them to start writing, whether because they thought they could do better, or they saw that E.L. James didn’t come to fiction from a lofty place on high, but as a TV executive turned writer of fan fiction. Maybe you don’t see yourself as a writer today, but tomorrow something fabulous and unexpected, or horribly life-changing, or explosively erotic, happens and you find yourself thinking, I have to write about this. If you wind up in that position, even it’s just a momentary inkling and you have no idea what will happen after you write the first sentence, do it. Don’t hesitate, don’t wait, don’t look to anyone else for “permission.”

Here’s the thing about writing: you never know who’s reading, who’s paying attention, who’s absorbing what you write. You might think you’re writing for people who look and sound and think like you, but find that your work connects with people who are in totally different places in life than you are. There’s no way of knowing that until you put those words down and send them off into the world, whether that’s a blog post, a Facebook status update, a short story, an essay, a book, a magazine, or a handwritten missive posted on a coffeeshop bulletin board. Call it woo-woo if you like, but I fully believe that the right people will find your words at the right time, and I don’t mean because you used the perfect SEO or used the best Amazon meta tags or hired the best book cover designer, but because you wrote something that mattered to you.

Here’s something wise my writer friend Lauren Baratz-Logsted posted today on Facebook: “If you’ve written something that has made just one person laugh or think of the world in a new way, if you’ve made one person who while in a dark night of the soul say, ‘I’m staying alive to keep reading so I can find out how this thing turns out’ thereby helping that person see another dawn: you’ve already succeeded.”

One of the reasons I’m so passionate about erotica is because it welcomed me into its folds (I promise I didn’t mean that as a double entendre) when I as at a point in my life when I wasn’t sure what direction to take. I was in law school but increasingly feeling out of touch with my classmates and found myself ditching class because I didn’t understand the material and, most importantly, realized I didn’t want to be a lawyer.

I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do next, but I found myself starting to submit erotica stories and getting them published, one by one. Those first few stories led to editing my first erotica anthology back in 2004, and now 12 years later I’ve edited over 60 of them. I say this not to brag, but simply to point out that I entered this field with one idea that has since blossomed into something far greater than I could have imagined. But none of that would have happened if I didn’t take that first idea and let it come to life.

Erotica is, I fully believe, just as welcoming and eager for new authors as it was back then. There are new publishers popping up all the time and new ways for writers to reach readers, whether it’s blogging, Wattpad, self-publishing or other means. Erotica editors want your stories. Right now there are calls for submissions open for everything from lesbian romance to “characters living and loving while STI-positive” to the theme of, simply, lust, to name but a few. What you do with those topics is up to you, but the point is: they are ripe for your own spin.

Maybe I sound like an erotica Pollyanna, but I don’t care. I don’t want any of you to miss out on the joy of sharing your words with readers because you let fear get in the way. Happy Friday, and happy writing, wherever your words take you.

Rachel Kramer Bussel is the editor of over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, Dirty Dates, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, The Big Book of Orgasms and Fast Girls. She interviews women about their sex lives for Elle.com and writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture. Find out more at eroticawriting101.com and follow her @raquelita on Twitter. Sign up for book giveaways in her monthly newsletter at rachelkramerbussel.com.

Kinky Bank Robbers and Other Finds at the RT Booklovers Convention

29 May

by Elizabeth SaFleur

Greetings! I’ve recently returned from book paradise, also known as The Romance Times’ Booklovers Convention. Attendees get to meet and fangirl (or boy) all over their favorite authors, stock up on new book releases (they give you a rolling bag), and meet hundreds of other readers who get as excited as you over a shirtless guy on a book cover. And where else can you talk—actually talk—to the likes of Lexi Blake or Cherise Sinclair or Sylvia Day or [insert favorite romance author]?

RT is a reader’s heaven.

So, what’s next in the world of erotica and erotic romance? Literary agent Miriam Kriss (Irene Goodman Agency) believes we have yet to “peak” in the erotic romance market. During that panel, it was suggested Fifty Shades was just at the beginning of a trend for more explicit sexual romance. Yay for us. That means more scintillating tales to come.

Expect to see more stories of ordinary people set in the ordinary world. Lovers of billionaire romance, never fear. Tales of the super-rich are still hot. Therefore, they will be written. But we heard the millennial generation (which is frickin’ huge, by the way), wants more “real life.”

Of course, they also want more of the young adult paranormal and magical realism they grew up with, like the Harry Potter series and Twilight. Only with sex. Yeah, Harry and Ginny getting it on. (You were either turned on by that last sentence or completely squicked out.) The readers in their mid-twenties and younger want what they grew up with – plus some ordinary people thrown in – doing the Big Deed.

We also might finally see the end of cheesy covers. Oh, who am I kidding? Someone will always put out a Fabio-look alike ripping off a corset. I was still glad to hear much discussion about the quality of book covers—and how they’re going to grow hotter but classier.

Truth is, at RT, you can’t get away from sizzling book covers. They are plastered on every conceivable space in the hotel. I give you . . . one of the hotel’s elevator doors. With nipple-age!

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 As for lovers of the male/male (M/M) genre, hang on to your panties. The LGBT sessions were standing room only at RT.  I couldn’t stand in a coffee shop line without hearing someone talk about M/M, specifically. During a panel with Sylvia Day, Liliana Hart, Julie Ann Walker, Jill Shalvis, and Jennifer Probst, one attendee asked if they had planned on writing (more) M/M stories. The hundred or so audience members bounced in their seats in anticipation to the answer. Most of the author panelists reported that, yes, a M/M story was in their writing future. Unimpressed by vague answers, the woman asked, by when? When told it could be a year or more, the audience engaged in distinct pouting.

An author friend, who also attended RT, says no one does M/M like Kindle Alexander. I have yet to read her, but my friend swears by her stories. She also reports Riley Hart, L.A. Witt, Laura Harner, Alexa Land, and Ella Frank are must-reads in this genre.

Speaking of recommendations, below are three books I simply had to read after seeing their covers everywhere at RT. My three new “finds:”

the-master1-186x300

At the Giant Book Fair, I rushed to Kresley Cole’s table to buy The Master after staring at the cover on the elevator every day. Kresley Cole is an insta-buy for me but she outdid herself with this book. The plot has heroine Catarina Marin on the run from a scary ex – until she gets involved with billionaire Russian politician and Mafiya boss, Maksimilian Sevastya. It’s off-the-charts hot. I want a Russian now.

download (1)

How could anyone resist a title like Taken Hostage by the Kinky Bank Robbers? I’m only a little way into heroine Melinda’s adventures, but I expect all those bad boy fantasies to be satisfied by book’s end. Annika Martin also writes laugh-out-loud dialogue to go with the hot sex, which makes this book doubly fun. Who says erotica and romance has to be so serious, anyway?

download (3)

I read Beth Kery’s brand-spanking-new, Glimmer, during the Convention. As with every Beth Kery novel, just when I thought I had the plot figured out, bam! Plot twist. This book also is hotness incarnate, but a little more sophisticated than most. This author is another one-click buy for me. But I’m especially impressed with this new series she’s started.

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Oh, and a bonus read…Spurred (Studs in Spurs) by Cat Johnson. I haven’t read the book (yet). But I did stare at her covers on the elevator banks every day. Anyone who puts that much male nipple action out there deserves an honorable mention at the very least. Bring on the ranch hands!

The RT Booklovers Convention is in Las Vegas next year. Who’s going with me? (Bring an extra suitcase.)

Dark Desires of Goblin Men

10 Oct

Man City Lizzieby C. Margery Kempe

The Pre-Raphaelites seduce so many; I have the Tarot of Delphi to the left of me and a collection of postcards from the recent exhibit to the right of me, a ménage novelette Man City: Lizzie  that features an art historian who tends pre-Raphaelite paintings in Manchester — and later this month, a novella inspired by Christina Rossetti’s The Goblin Market coming out in The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires.

If you don’t know about that, I urge you to check your pulse. Or pre-order it here!

“The Lying, The Witch and The Wardrobe” had its birth in the poem warning of the power of sensual dangers. Students always read it and think blah blah blah rules rules rules and then I read it to them, aloud, slowly.

She clipp’d a precious golden lock,
She dropp’d a tear more rare than pearl,
Then suck’d their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flow’d that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She suck’d and suck’d and suck’d the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She suck’d until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away
But gather’d up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turn’d home alone.
My heroine loves the poem but she has no idea what secrets it holds, like the secrets that lie within her grandmother’s locked wardrobe — locked ever since she disappeared from the orchard one day. Jeanie inherited her own powers from that side of the family but things haven’t been working well for her. Can she turn her life around with her grandmother’s magic?

I’m not the only one obsessing over the Pre-Raphaelites. I cannot wait for the film EFFIE GRAY (h/t to Liz Hand for the link) from the fabulous Emma Thompson, my heroine!

Effie Gray trailer 

Friday Fun: Girl Groups

1 Aug
You know you want to click me. Just do it. Do it right now.

You know you want to click me. Just do it. Do it right now.

by C. Margery Kempe

I’ll be honest. I am flat out exhausted. I’ve been running like mad through my year of sabbatical writing like a machine. So here are some fabulous ladies to inspire you to get up and move around. We writers (and readers!) often spend a lot of time sedentary. Dancing is good exercise.

What’s your favourite ‘get moving’ song? Tell us in the comments! It’s Lughnasadh so the Summer dance party commences RIGHT NOW! Tip of the musical hat to Carol at The Cultural Gutter and Paul D. Brazill.

And always follow Lady Smut; you wouldn’t want to miss the party!

Cities as Inspiration

9 May
Bernini's Apollo and Daphne

Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne plays a role in One Night in Rome

by C. Margery Kempe

An awful lot of my stories take place in London because 1) I spend a lot of time there or have done 2) I know parts of the city well and they inspire good ideas for stories and 3) I love that city, so even when I’m not there I like to spend time visiting via my imagination. I set Swan Prince in Hyde Park and most of the Chastity Flame stories in parts of the city from the National Gallery to the Millennium Bridge.

But I’m putting the finishing touches on my new novella for Tirgearr which takes place in Rome. Ah, the eternal city! After many years of admiring the ancient world, I visited there for the first time just a couple of years ago with my friend (and fabulous poet) Alessandra as guide.

I cannot imagine not enjoying Rome but seeing the city with a Roman guide is sine qua non.

She took me to the Jewish ghetto where we had the most exquisite roasted artichoke — a flavour that lingers yet in my mouth, nutty buttery perfection. We saw the Caravaggios that never travel, hidden in small dark churches, turned a corner and stepped through a small doorway into a tiny church full of golden Baroque splendor that the outside never betrayed and she made sure I experienced that golden afternoon light that painters had sought to capture in oil and watercolors for centuries, a treasure that exists no where else.

And the food! Should I even try to describe the food? No. You have to experience it for yourself.

What’s your city? Why? What magic does it hold? What keeps you coming back?

Keep coming back to Lady Smut: or sign up for our posts. You won’t want to miss a thing.

Beware the Ides; Embrace the Madness

16 Mar
For the next few weeks, my planet looks like this.

For the next few weeks, my planet looks like this.

By Alexa Day

The NCAA Basketball Tournament starts in a few days. The selection show, which will formally announce which teams are playing this year, is later this evening. The very first games (I can’t make myself call that the first round) start on Tuesday. The real action starts on Thursday. I’m so excited that I’m thinking of taping Scandal this week so that I can devote that hour to watching the first round games. My secret fantasy … well, one of them, anyway … is to watch the Round of 64 live and in person, but that’s a long-term goal.

I guess I come from a basketball family. My brother and I both played, and my years on the court taught me more than most of my years in school. Especially law school, which would benefit from some good old basketball wisdom. But you don’t have to be into sports to love the tournament. The tournament is really a story that will take a few weeks to tell, a story with a cast of 68 teams. It’s a tale filled with plot twists, surprises and lots of heroes, and there’s more than a little magic built into that bracket. Check out some of these tourney themes, traditions and takeaways to find the method in the Madness.

1. The world can change in seconds. The shot that wins the game in its final second — the buzzer beater — is a given in the first few games of the tournament. That alone, I think, is reason enough to love this time of year. Anything really can happen, and you really can miss it if you blink. That electricity drives the tourney’s emotional rollercoaster.

2. Hope matters. At some point during the first round games, at least one team will find its tournament future hanging on a single foul shot. Some will need the shooter to succeed and others will need him to miss. While the shooter sets up on the foul line, flanked by his teammates and opponents, and facing a sea of fans who are trying to distract him, watch the sidelines for the real show: a row of players, their arms linked, usually staring down at the floor as they bring their hopes to bear on that one shot. For that moment, all anyone on the bench can do is hope, but in the first round, hope matters a great deal. It’s a force strong enough to feel over the airwaves.

Jim Valvano cut the nets down for real in 1983. Dereck Whittenburg (right) is now on the NC State coaching staff.

Jim Valvano cut the nets down for real in 1983. Dereck Whittenburg (right) is now on the NC State coaching staff.

3. Thoughts become things. As the head coach at North Carolina State, Jim Valvano set aside one practice, the sole purpose of which was to cut down the nets. He knew his Wolfpack was going to take the title one day. When that happened (and it was never a question of “if” for Valvano), everyone would need to be comfortable up there taking the nets down to celebrate the victory, so he made that the focus of one entire practice. He was that sure. So many of us have affirmations or big-picture predictions posted near our workspaces or on our bathroom mirrors. But do we believe them? Do we know them to be true? Are we getting ready, or are we going through the motions? (Valvano’s Wolfpack cut the nets down for real in 1983. Valvano’s championship run and his battle against the cancer that claimed his life ten years later are the subjects of the remarkable documentary Survive and Advance.)

4. Character reveals itself in setbacks. Impermanence is one of the things that makes college basketball special. The players seem to understand that it won’t last forever. Keep an eye on the seniors who realize in the last moments of the game that they aren’t going to win. These games are the absolute center of the universe for them, and the end of that last game will mean the end of a lot of things. The end of the tourney. The end of a dream. For many of them, it’s the end of basketball. But they will handle this with a sort of intense grace, a deep dignity that so many of us lose somewhere along the way. (Looking hard at the NBA. Just saying.) Emotions run high in college basketball, and every so often, someone will lose his composure over one of those random things that make the tourney so exciting. But good teams pull together until they regain their focus, and that’s always inspiring to watch.

5. Beware the cynics. The world is filled with people who will try to say that this process is far less magical than I’m making it out to be. Those people almost always point at money. Most of them aren’t actually watching, so they haven’t seen a 21-year-old male weeping without shame on national television because he and his teammates aren’t quite going to make it to the next round. They think everyone’s behavior in college sports — including that intense grace I mentioned a second ago — is motivated by someone else’s money. There will always be people ready to turn that into something base.

And that’s fine. It really is. There’s not a way to stop people determined to take a long whiz into our joy. We can’t control them. We can only move forward with intense grace, palpable hope, the knowledge that magic can happen in a fraction of a second, and the sheer, immovable conviction that good things will eventually come to pass.

That’s not madness, is it?

Follow Lady Smut. We’ve got all your hardwood needs covered.

The Romance of Trains

24 Feb

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Screen-shot-2010-11-24-at-14.49.21

A woman in period dress stands on a train platform. Smoke wreathes around her as the wheezing locomotive pulls into the station. The woman breathes a sigh of relief. This is how she’ll escape. This is the train that will give her freedom. This is the train that will take her on an adventure. This is the train that returns her beloved.

There is deep romance to be found in trains. Trains take you where cars fear to tread, high up into the mountains or winding around rivers and gorges or out into what wilderness can still be found in this world. Trains allow you to explore those last bits of wild majesty.

no roads

A train is a powerful beast of transport. Not the baffling physics of air travel (how does a thing that big get that high in the air?) or the aggravations of cars (why do people insist on going under the speed limit in the left-hand lane?!) or the dodgy environs of a lumbering bus (please don’t sit next to me), but the wheeze and clang of a force with which to be reckoned. 

Travel today has long since lost the romance of the journey. It’s become too difficult to navigate. These days, we tend to focus on getting to our destination in the fastest and cheapest manner possible. We’ve lost the ability to enjoy the journey itself.

kissing on train

But there’s a romantic rhythm to the swing and swirl of a train carriage as though you’re constantly in a dance to find your balance. Trains are infused with thrills and passion. Murder. Mayhem. Romance. Trains have hosted them all in novels and TV shows and movies. They carry the mystery of the unknown, the idea that anything can happen on the long push to a destination. Trains give you the luxury of not having to think about the particulars of travel so your mind can wander and dream. Rest.

Write.

What better place to write than on a train? Cut off from the rest of the world, lost amongst the netherland beyond civilization, in a world of one’s own, it’s the perfect environment in which any writer is sure to flourish.

Amtrak agrees.

Last week, news broke of a pilot program quietly tested by Amtrak that offered free “writer’s residencies” — long, round-trip journeys during which writers…write.  Amtrak has since confirmed its plans to make the program official and long-term by offering writers trips on its network routes for the sole purpose of writing (suspect the “free” part will likely change, however.)

tracking_trains

Outstanding.

What is writing but a long journey into the unknown? Pairing that metaphorical trip with an actual journey seems the kind of no-brainer genius waiting to happen along the lines of shellacking peanut butter and jelly on two slices of bread and slapping them together. Or Nutella.

How did this all come about? Twitter. Yes, my social media baby has done it again, connecting the right people at the right time to create something fabulous. Author Jessica Gross tweeted the idea to Amtrak who responded with an offer to test out her theory on a New York to Chicago round trip. Kudos to Amtrak’s social media manager, Julia Quinn, (no relation to the bestselling romance writer) for swiftly moving to make the idea a reality.

train

Now particulars for future rides are still to be fleshed out, but given the overwhelming social media response to this news, Amtrak will not lack for applicants once they roll out their full schedule. Romance writers alone are sure to queue up for the experience. I find it hard to imagine a more inspiring environment; I could finish one book and get off at the end of the journey with ideas for five more. Plot bunnies abound!

Do you enjoy train travel? Would you take the trip to write in residence?

Follow LadySmut. We’re one hell of a trip.

My Secrets Are Safe With Me

19 Feb

Sensual couple in a sexy poseBy Elizabeth Shore

We’re all aware of the old adage, “write what you know.” For some writers, that wisdom is like a mantra. John Grisham, attorney, writing legal thrillers. Same with Dr. Robin Cook on the medical front. They have the expertise and credentials to write novels in their chosen fields, and readers trust that the facts relevant to their backgrounds are correct. Those authors are, indeed, writing what they know. But when that logic is shifted to writers of erotic romance, should the adage even apply?

Let’s begin by stating the obvious. Erotic romance authors presumably “know” their subject matter, at least to a degree. Statistics provided by the Kinsey Institute indicate that by age 24, 92% of women and 89% of men have had sexual intercourse. Given that, for the most part, we’re all in or above that age bracket, we can statistically state that we have first-hand relevant knowledge of our topic. However, have I participated in wild sadomasochistic orgies, or copulated outdoors? Maybe. Do I retain card-carrying member status of an alternative lifestyle underground sex club? It’s possible. Or not. The truth is, there’s not a chance in hell that I’m going to publicly air any of my street cred on those fronts. No way, Jose. Those are secrets I’m keeping to myself.

I recently had a conversation with someone where we shared with each other how we respond to the age-old question, “what do you do for a living?” In his case, his job is so highly skilled and technical that the follow-up questions are more along the lines of an effort to understand what the heck he’s even talking about. But for me, if I reveal that I write erotic romance, what follows is a certain lascivious gleam in the eye that tells me the person is simply bursting with wanting to know where and how I get my ideas. After all, I must be writing what I know, right? So, gee, how do I actually know all of that naughty stuff?

It’s interesting how boundaries will sometimes evaporate when people learn that we write in the erotic romance genre. The respect for personal space disappears and people seem to think it’s perfectly OK to inquire about how I get my ideas on crafting sex scenes just because I’ve revealed that I write them.

The question I never get, but which I would willingly answer, is why I write in this genre. Why erotic romance versus inspirational romance, for example? The simple answer is because I like it. I sometimes cook up a pot of bolognese because I like to eat it, just as I write erotic romance because I like to read it. I’m fascinated by the psychological association between relationships and sex, and the complex range of emotions that go along with  the decision to have a physical relationship with someone. When I’m reading a romance and things start heating up between my hero and heroine, there’s no way I’m going to be content if the scene ends by closing the bedroom door. Say what?! No way. Not only do I want that door to stay open, I want a play-by-play of the action. What’s going on physically in the couple’s bodies and emotionally in their heads. I want to know it, and I like to write it.

A year ago I wrote a post about the fact that I’m not, contrary to what some people may think when they learn I wrote erotic romance, a sex goddess. I’m a writer, plain and simple, and erotic romance is my genre. But where exactly I get my ideas for those deliciously naughty scenes and whether or not I have relevant first-hand experience is a secret that stays safely with me.

What do you think, writers? Are you ever asked crazy questions about where you get your ideas? Find your inspiration? Sound off below, and don’t forget to follow us at Lady Smut. We’ll keep your secret.

Nobody’s Done It Since: How May Day Changed My Game

2 Feb
No one does it like Grace Jones can.

I thought James *had* met his match. Too bad everyone else thought it was Stacey Sutton.

By Alexa Day

My love affair with James Bond ended when the Powers That Be sent Pierce Brosnan packing. The affair began with Roger Moore. The year was 1985, the film was A View to a Kill, and I was 12.

I think a woman develops a certain affection for her first Bond, but Sir Roger, as much as I love him, is not the reason I adore this movie. For a preteen girl trying to figure out where on earth she belonged and what to make of the world around her, A View to a Kill is all about May Day.

Played by the one-of-a-kind Grace Jones, May Day was exactly the heroine I needed at exactly the time I needed a heroine. She dressed to impress – or at least to be noticed – with bright colors and backless dresses. She knew how to handle her business. She singlehandedly calmed a skittish racehorse, handed Bond’s ass to him on a fishing rod, and jumped from the Eiffel Tower with a stylish parachute, and that was just in the first half of the film.

By the time I was 12, I’d learned a hard lesson of life: The more you can do, the less popular you’ll be. Bear in mind, I was growing up in a world before Buffy but after Cleopatra Jones. In this dark time, a 12-year-old black girl had very few lady bad-asses to admire, and even fewer of those had men in their lives. In the films of my youth, girls like Stacey Sutton (poor Tanya Roberts), girls whose placid minds were untroubled by thought, seemed to get the guy.

It's a hell of a job, being May Day, but I think I could do it. For a few hours.

It’s a hell of a job, being May Day, but I think I could do it. For a few hours.

But on top of her killer wardrobe and lethal talents, May Day had a boyfriend. A blond boyfriend. And the man doted on her. He kissed her hand while they hung out at the lake waiting for Bond to drown. He watched her get downright giggly over the view from his blimp. They were a well-oiled machine combing his estate looking for Bond and later burning down San Francisco’s City Hall. They were good together.

Okay, let’s stop for just a second. I will acknowledge that Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin was probably not the ideal boyfriend. He was a genetically engineered megalomaniac with pretty deep-seated psychopathic tendencies. I get it. But I challenge you to look at the positives.

Max had his own money. He had his own place, which came with its own servants’ quarters. He was pretty sharp. He had a plan for the future that ostensibly included May Day. I see a lot of non-megalomaniacs out there who can’t manage all that. I would suggest that the megalomania is more of a long-term relationship issue, something to work through as it causes trouble.

Just think about this like a 12-year-old for a second. Max is looking pretty good now, right? I mean, the man had a blimp with his name on the side. That’s pretty persuasive stuff. I was all ready to be May Day.

Admit it. You would love to put this expression on at least one ex's face.

Admit it. You would love to put this expression on at least one ex’s face.

Even when things went bad between her and Max and he tried to kill her, I wanted to be May Day. A breakup like that might have rendered another woman utterly useless. May Day went out the way every scorned woman dreams of – she became the instrument of her ex’s downfall. James didn’t foil Max’s Master Plan. May Day did. And she made damned sure he could see her doing it.

Today, I’m a somewhat jaded 40something in a world my 12-year-old self only dreamed of, filled with stories where black women kick ass, take names, and get their swirl on, too. I still haven’t become May Day (yet), but I’ve always thought A View to a Kill is very much her movie. Each time I see it, the romance writer in me can’t stop wondering about the doomed relationship between her and her blond megalomaniac. I know May Day got the resolution that was perfect for her. But maybe one day, I can write a better man for another inimitable woman.

Are you following Lady Smut? We don’t have a blimp yet, but I like our chances for world domination anyway.

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