So, a kind patron bought me some new covers. Don’t ask me what I did for him. Ha ha. Seriously, they are beautiful, and I cannot wait to show them to you! The kind folks at Wicked Book Covers really went above and beyond to create an entirely new expression of the emotion involved in The Switch Stories. Stick around, as they will be revealed on Memorial Day, 2015!
Last year, something terrible happened in Tennessee. I didn’t hear anything about it until some days later, researching on FetLife as I do. Someone, quite possibly the author herself–this was a year ago, so I can’t recall—posted an amazing blog on the subject. It was the first I’d read about it. A submissive named Shirley Beck was killed by those she trusted. Few fitting words do justice to what she went through. Kate Kinsey found those words, in her brilliant piece “The Last Four Hours of Shirley Beck’s Life“. I’m not sure anyone could have said it better.
Of course, I wanted to respond, as a member of the Kink Community, as an author of BDSM erotica, and as a freaking human being. I was so upset, I forgot how to word. Incoherent moans and sobbing seemed more appropriate. I cried, a lot.
In the end, I wrote another piece entirely, due to a censorship situation in which I knew the players, and it did speak on consent, but only peripherally. I was petrified to allow my brain to stray near the original subject. I kept meaning to come back to it, but publishing Switch It ON, and writing and publishing Switch It UP consumed my life. Well, and three trips to visit The Muse, who restoreth my soul, so to speak.
Finally, the work was done, and when I contemplated a real blog post for y’all, neither sharing nor selling, consent seemed the obvious choice. Although this incident had opened a conversation, we just reheated the same stale meal: There is no such thing as “rape culture”, and even if there was, WE don’t participate. Consent is built into our guidelines, after all. None of us would ever violate anyone’s boundaries! The safe-word is sacred!
Obviously, this is no more true for us than it is for the vanilla community. In fact, WIITWD leaves abusers with even more excuses! Consent needs to be addressed, and readdressed, and then sent to the P. O. Box and readdressed again, until the vanilla world truly believes that “no” means “NO!”, and until everyone in the fetish community will stop at “red” (or pistachio, or whatever y’all agree on. I don’t judge that either.)
In the immortal words of Arlo Guthrie, “That’s not what I came here to tell you about.” When I began preparing for this entry, I wanted to read the original piece that inspired it, that I have linked above. I did so, and cried and failed again. However, whenever I read something particularly brilliant, I like to go and see what else that person is doing.
This has led to something I haven’t done on this blog, a book review! (Cue announcer voice and dramatic music!)
Red, in the author’s own words is: “Truly, madly. . .deadly
Detective Tom Hanson has a string of grotesquely mutilated bodies on his hands and no answers–aside from the fact that the victims were members of an underground sex club catering to singular erotic tastes. Tastes the long, lean detective has sampled himself in the arms of his former lover, a fiery redhead who offered the most erotic, irresistible sex he’d ever encountered. Until the night she’d begged for the one thing he couldn’t give, and he lost her forever.
Gina Larsen is the only one who can guide Hanson through the fringe world of dark fantasy and desire that lies hidden deep beneath the Bible Belt. Lured into her lair by a quest for justice, Hanson discovers his hunger for Gina has only grown stronger and deeper. . .beyond the edge of control. Soon he’s shedding his last inhibitions in the search for answers, but the more she draws him into her erotic web, the less he can distinguish between passion and duty, pleasure and pain. . .good and evil.”
I know, right? How could I possibly resist? Before the Muse inspired me to embark upon this journey, thrillers were the mainstay of my library, and here, it seemed, all my best beloved worlds would collide. Red is that brilliant explosion.
Authenticity is only where we begin. Ms. Kinsey tells all, with honesty and love, that anyone might want to know about BDSM; more, in fact, than might be comfortable for some. She unflinchingly shines the light into some of the darker areas of the scene.
Her probing glow also invades the psychology of Kink, and of people in general, allowing her to create some vivid and memorable characters. Her use of language is expert, her descriptive powers evoking erotic images and horrific crime scenes with equal skill. With all this, she includes the twists and surprises thrillers need to thrill.
As book reviews haven’t really been my thing, I have no rating system here. Whatever it would be, Red would get the highest honors, 5 stars, 2 thumbs up, and a standing ovation.
Switch It UP is available now! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RNHYFBS
Warning! This is an erotic romance, so contained herein are graphic descriptions of sex, bondage, discipline, dominance, and submission. You’ll find group sex, voyeurism, Daddy-daughter play, and mud fetishism. Mental illness, self-harm, and consent violation are some of the difficult issues addressed. Somehow, there’s still room for art, ironic humor, and love.
Last week, I only thought I had problems. How I wish for last week!
It’s a Dom problem. My sleazy boss at the dungeon is ripping me off and harassing my sweet, gorgeous assistant, Trey, who is too submissive for his own safety.
It’s a sub problem. Usually my lover Jase is my rock, always there to take care of me, whether I need feeding or spanking. Now something from Jase’s past is pulling him away from me. He grows more distant every day.
It’s a poly problem. Beautiful Trey is ready to explore with my gorgeous new pet, Hunter, and wants me along for the ride. And Jase’s buddy Joe has been casting filthy glances my way, along with his Dirty South grin.
Sometimes I don’t know what the question is, but I’m pretty sure sex is the answer. Time to SWITCH IT UP.
I’ve been writing fiction since nearly the moment I could hold a pencil, but I never considered myself an author until fairly recently. Even after I had joined authors’ groups on Facebook, and created a page there, I didn’t know. Even after I’d added “author” to my e-mail address, and created this blog, I wasn’t sure. It wasn’t until I’d run around my day job with a pencil, looking for a quick scrap of paper to make a note, because I’d just had an epiphany that illuminated a dark spot in my current work like a divine floodlight straight from Heaven itself. I ended up writing this eureka moment down on a piece of brown industrial paper towel, because I couldn’t let it get away. That’s when I knew.
The agonies of creation are sometimes aptly named, especially when the words are right there, and the time to put them down is not. When the time is there, but life somehow prevents it. Worse is when the words won’t come, time or not. Agony can become ecstasy when all of a sudden a phrase sounds so brilliant in the mind’s ear it should be sung rather than spoken. This amusement park ride is not restricted to the folks who write highbrow, capital L “literature”. If you just have to get it down, get it out, get it on the page or the screen, you’re an author, no matter what the snobs might say.
Whether you’re a good author remains to be seen. Some days, I’m convinced I’m amazing, others, I’m certain it should all be deleted before anyone sees it. I assume someday you’re sure, but then, I always thought a day would come when I’d feel like an adult, and though I’m squarely into “middle age”, that day has not arrived. So maybe even the big boys and girls have doubts, though of course they’ll never tell.
I never once considered my “process”. I wrote as it came, having little luck at forcing it, although I followed the advice of keeping to a schedule. With the day job, that meant cutting back on sleep. I never realized how hollowed out I’d feel when I was done, when that hour could be spent playing Candy Crush, or reading articles on how to sell myself like a cheap whore on the internet. Hey, whore is a term of endearment in my vocabulary! I learned that she (or he) who writes this way is known as a “pants-er” as in flying by the seat of one’s pants.
Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will recall that I flew way off course doing that, and my book stalled out and threatened to crash. Luckily my dear friend and writing guru prevented that, and helped me get going again in a better direction. I learned a lot, and continued researching my subject and genre while I did so. I visited the Muse twice, certainly inspirational, and discovered the story as I went.
I thought it might be better to be a plotter, those logical lads and lassies who outline, and create character descriptions that rival many biographies. How can you fly off course, after all, if you’ve got a map? Mine just said “Here be sex scenes” instead of dragons or sea monsters. I’m not sure that I can change my “process” any more than I can my height, or my sexuality.
I’ve had an inspiration for the opening scene of Switch It OFF, you see. And I think what will become the second one. After that, my map gets all misty. Even my destination is only vaguely visible at this point. I’ve attempted to outline, and all I get is a headache. I may be destined to chisel out my story like a sculptor brings life gradually to a block of stone, and feeling much like the stone is in my brain when my chisel gets dull.
As the sprint towards publication of Switch It UP—and it had better be a sprint, let me tell you—begins, I may have a small space in which I don’t have this concern. But the Muse is whispering in my ear, and he’s a dirty boy, as usual. I may have to take off without a map, or even a compass.
Safe, sane and consensual. In the Kink world outside of book fantasies, this is how we are supposed to play. What about within the confines of our fiction? Here, after all, we explore the insides of our heads, and those are not always safe or sane. Our Erotica doesn’t have to be. Or does it?
There’s been some trouble lately with certain subjects in Erotica, self-published with a certain company, although this may be occurring to some degree with other companies as well. I’m not going to name the company, because I publish with them. I’m not going to name the authors, because I haven’t asked their permission. I don’t think I need to do either to make my point.
Nonconsensual sex is a sanitized phrase for rape. We haven’t touched on this subject, for many reasons. Previously, none of them would have been ‘fear of censorship’. Rape is a scary word for a scarier concept, but we have freedom of speech in this country, and freedom of the press. Go ahead and laugh, I realize both of these have been severely abused of late. Get it all out. I’ll wait.
I’ve been reading a good deal within my genre for research, and through other incarnations of myself have become acquainted with a few of the authors I’ve been reading. Therein lies our tale, and my concern.
In a recently published anthology was a story that I felt crossed the line of safety and sanity. It eroticized rape, and broke boundaries like I’d break a nail. Granted. Would I censor it? Hell, no. Maybe a trigger warning should be included, maybe. But this is inside our heads, harming no one.
Rape fantasies are common, aren’t they? According to Psychology Today, forty to sixty percent of women have such fantasies. I maintain that the vast majority of these fantasies have more to do with submission than any desire to be raped. The recent popularity of BDSM themed Erotica would seem to bear me out.
Regardless, it was a story, perhaps not to my taste, but then I am more in touch with my inner submissive than many women. If you’ve read Switch It ON, you know my inner submissive will talk your damn ear off. Many, many stories don’t appeal to me, in and out of the steamier section of the e-bookstore. I’m certain their authors are traumatized. Ha ha.
The troubling part is that the retailer censored it, and seems now to be subjecting all of the authors who published in the “offending” book to heightened scrutiny, even to the point of making their work unavailable. While it appears that this has been sorted out, it concerns me.
There are some dark themes in BDSM literature. During my research, I’ve read stories that upset me. I’ve read about relationships that appear to me to be the result of Stockholm Syndrome. I’ve seen photos that made me cry. I, like Mistress Madeline, have more issues than the New York Times, and like her, cry easily. I am not, however, afraid of the dark. A good portion of my soul lives there still, and is perfectly at home.
Switch It UP has travelled down some of the darker paths through the woods. We’ll meet some wolves that really need a comeuppance from the Woodcutter. I address child sexual abuse, violation of consent, and, yes, rape. All of these appear off-screen, and none of them are romanticized or eroticized in any way. However, the recent censorship gives me grave concerns. Will my work be blackballed because of its honesty, as happened to an author among those referenced whom I hold in high regard because of her failure to sugarcoat, her commitment to truth and authenticity?
Those rape fantasies seem to imply that the truth might be different from what anyone supposes. Authors leave readers free to explore those areas that ring true to them. Publishers and retailers seem to feel readers need protecting. What do you think? Do you need Grandma to hold your hand, or do you want to walk through the dark woods, and let the wolves beware?
An absolutely lovely review, by a blogger to watch!
Full disclosure: I received this story in exchange for an honest review.
The Switch Stories by J. H. Craig follow Miss Madeline, a professional dom. But as the title suggests, there’s more to her sexuality than dominance. To my delight, there’s also more to her character. The way she acts around Jason is different from how she acts with Trey, with clients, with Ian, or with anyone else, in the most realistic way possible. She can be soft and withdrawn, strong and nurturing, or impressively badass, depending on what the situation calls for. Between her different roles and the different facets of her personality, I found her to be a truly three-dimensional character—and a likable one, at that. This gets major points in my book, because characters make or break erotica for me. When they’re as intriguing and dynamic as Miss Madeline, it’s easy to get invested in their stories.
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