Tag Archives: BDSM

I’ve been waiting to see them all in a row like this! #StrainSeries @RiptideBooks

As promised, I’m putting the Juggernaut and Bane covers up here today. But then I have also wanted to see the whole series laid out, chronologically. While it doesn’t matter which order you read Juggernaut and Strain in, this is how they fall:

Juggernaut_500x750They helped destroy the world. Now they have to survive the new one.

For rentboy Nico Fernández, it’s a simple job: seduce a presidential advisor to help cement approval to launch Project Juggernaut. He’s done similar work for General Logan McClosky before, and manipulating people for his favorite client beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel.

Zach Houtman feels called to work with the most vulnerable outcasts of society. But his father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, insists that Zach work for him instead as he runs for Senate. Zach reluctantly agrees, but is horrified to see his father leave behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy to preach malicious zealotry and violence instead. Zach even starts to suspect his father is working with fundamentalist terrorists.

When Project Juggernaut accidentally unleashes a deadly plague that claims billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together, each bearing a burden of guilt. With only each other for safety and solace, they must make their way through a new world, one where the handful of people left alive are willing to do anything—and kill anyone—to survive.

There is an excerpt available from Juggernaut at Riptide.

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In a world with little hope and no rules, the only thing they have to lose is themselves.

Rhys Cooper is a dead man. Cut off from the world since childhood, he’s finally exposed to the lethal virus that wiped out most of the human race. Now his only hope for survival is infection by another strain that might provide immunity. But it’s sexually transmitted, and the degradation he feels at submitting to the entire squad of soldiers that rescued him eclipses any potential for pleasure—except with Darius, the squadron’s respected, capable leader.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little humanity. He’s spent a decade putting plague victims out of their misery and escorting survivors to a safe haven he can never enjoy. He’d rather help Rhys live than put him down, so when Rhys can’t reconcile himself to doing what’s necessary to survive, Darius is forced to save Rhys in spite of himself.

But with each passing day, it looks less and less likely that Rhys can be saved. And that means that Darius might soon have to put a bullet in the head of the one person in years who reminds him of what it means to be human.

Strain is available now at Riptide.

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The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation.

Rhys Cooper’s unique immunity to all three strains of the virus that nearly annihilated humanity has brought him the unwanted attention of Clean Zone scientists. They’ve summoned him for testing—ostensibly in the hopes of finding a vaccine—but Rhys’s partner, Darius Murrell, has good reason not to trust any government. He and his comrades in Delta Company were unwitting test subjects for Project Juggernaut, the military experiment that gave them superhuman abilities and unleashed the pandemic. Doubting the government’s intentions, Delta Company refuses to let Rhys go alone.

Fear of infection has kept Zach Houtman and his lover Nico Fernández apart for a decade. They meet rarely, just long enough to coordinate their spying on the head of the government’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood is a vicious predator, and they suspect he’s trying to acquire the strain of the virus that would make him superhuman. To stop him, they need the perfect bait: Rhys.

For Rhys, helping them might cost him his relationship with Darius—or his life. For Zach and Nico, even if their plan succeeds, they still face the ultimate question: can infected and uninfected people ever live together safely?

People who have read the Juggernaut excerpt will recognize the name “Secretary Littlewood.” You can also read an excerpt of Bane over at Riptide.

The Bane blurb makes it apparent that, as of the end of Juggernaut, Nico and Zach haven’t gotten their happy ending. Sorry about that. The situation between the characters at the end of Juggernaut is an impasse which just can’t be resolved at that time. But never fear! Bane continues their story and brings a very satisfying level of closure to both their plot and Darius and Rhys’s, and also for your other faves from Delta Company in general.

Less than three months to go until Juggernaut!

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They’re here! Check out the covers for JUGGERNAUT and BANE @jayhjay432 #postapocalyptic #mmromance @RiptideBooks

I’ll post them here tomorrow, but for now, head over to JoyfullyJay and check out the gorgeous covers for Juggernaut and Bane!

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Fan Favorite Training Season by Leta Blake is 50% Off For May! #mmromance #gay

If you like cowboys, figure skaters, kinky m/m smut, and heartbreakingly sweet love stories and haven’t read Training Season yet, do it now!

Leta Blake

50% off for May! 50% off at Amazon for May! Click to purchase!

In advance of the release of Training Complex (Training Season #2), I’ve decided to put the first book up for 50% off! The sale price is available on Amazon or with the following code on Smashwords.

Training Season on Smashwords
SW25E

Training Season on Amazon

The story of figure skater Matty Marcus and rancher Rob Lovely has been a fan favorite for several years now.

  • “Does Training Season by Leta Blake live up to all it’s crazy hype? IT SO DOES!” – Breann, Boy Meets Boy Reviews
  • “A tale told with such flair and tenderness, and with such insight into the two main characters that I will read it over and over again.” – Susan Mac Nicol, The Romance Review Site
  • “If you are looking something real with passion that leaps off the pages, read this book. Now. You will…

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Earth Day rebate on all my titles over at All Romance Ebooks @allromance #books

Today, All Romance eBooks is having an Earth Day special, offering a 50% rebate on most of their titles, including all of mine.

This means you can get Impulse: The Complete Trilogy for $4.00 after rebate. Same goes for The Professor’s Rule: The Complete Collection.

The Laird’s Forbidden Lover is less than $1.00.

Player vs. Player and Strain are $3.50 after rebate. And Saugatuck Summer is only $2.27

(again, these prices are after rebate, not upon checkout. You can turn around and use your ebook bucks to buy more books!)

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That lovely moment when someone really gets it.

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So, today I was looking over some of the reviews of Unconditional Surrender at Goodreads and saw this one, about my contribution to the bundle, titled The Housboy: Initiation:

House Boy: Initiation by Amelia C. Gormley – Wow. I am kinda stunned speechless at this one. And that’s a wonderful thing because it hit a bunch of my buttons, both good and bad. This, in my opinion, is how to tell a good story, especially one dealing with BDSM. The timing and pacing fit for the characters and ages. It was an excellently told and fantastically rendered Old Guard tale. That said, humiliation isn’t one of my things, but I get it here. It works in context with the story. I really liked how the situation was updated to incorporate some of the newer trends of the Lifestyle while still giving the feeling of the attitudes of the Old Guard way of BDSM. I also loved how the Bryce stood up for himself in his desires and that Vale was man enough to at least warn him that the reality probably wouldn’t match the fantasy.

I saw that review and a big smile spread across my face because I didn’t actually expect anyone to ever get the Old Guard connection there.

About, oh, 18 or so years ago, when I was first beginning to explore the BDSM lifestyle, there was no such thing as Fetlife or any of the other sites kinksters use now to connect with one another. Connecting with people in the scene here in Portland was pretty much restricted to munches, a mailing list called PDX-ASB (an offshoot of the alt.sex.bondage newsgroup) and things like a now-defunct meeting known as the Rose City Discussion Club.

I went to an RCDC meeting with the man who would one day become my husband one night when they were having a panel about the Old Guard, and even though this was years before I would develop my interest in same-sex erotica and romance, I remember being particularly interested in the middle-aged leatherman who described the way the gay biker clubs used to work, and his description of their initiations. About how a lot of Old Guard gay BDSM culture was started by military men who settled in the port cities (like San Francisco) after they got off the boats following World War II and Vietnam. About how primal and so not-sanitized it was, unlike the much cleaner and politer way BDSM is practiced today.

It was that experience that informed my writing The Houseboy: Initiation. I wanted to write about that difference between Old Guard and New Guard sensibilities, and how someone who is uninformed about BDSM might respond to his first exposure being more of the Old Guard variety. I wanted it to have that raw, gritty, unsanitized feel that I got from the leatherman’s descriptions of the gay biker club initiations. I just honestly didn’t expect anyone to pick up on what I was doing. I’m so geeked that someone did!

(Don’t forget that you can get a 50% rebate in ARe store credit on Unconditional Surrender if you pick it up at All Romance eBooks today.)

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All my titles are eligible for a 50% rebate @AllRomance today! #mmromance

Today you can get a 50% rebate in store credit at All Romance ebooks on all my titles, along with most of the rest of their store! Great chance to get caught up on anything you’ve missed lately!

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Sneak peak at THE HOUSEBOY: INITIATION (from UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER: An M/M Military Bundle) coming in October

As promised, I’m sharing an excerpt from my upcoming novella The Houseboy: Initiation, which will be published in the Unconditional Surrender M/M military bundle in October. I’ll put it under a cut, and warn you here that the story contains a significant age difference between the characters, BDSM, virginity kink, a gangbang, objectification and a whole bunch of other kinky things that might be uncomfortable for some readers.

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Catch me semi-live over at the @RiptideBooks authors chat on the Goodreads #BDSM group!

Today and tomorrow, myself and several other Riptide authors are answering your questions over at the Goodreads BDSM group. You can find us here!

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Today, the “Every Inch of the Way” Tour: “Every Inch an Exhibitionist” Part 1! @HeidiBelleau @RiptideBooks @twinmom

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Today is the first day of the Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4) Blog Tour. You know what that means? It means you get to read the first of six parts of Every Inch an Exhibitionist, an exclusive, free, bonus short featuring Satish, James, and Carson from The Professor’s Rule.

Heidi and I are making two stops today, each with chances to win an ebook copy of An Inch at a Time (The Professor’s Rule #2) in your format of choice. Just be sure to leave a comment including some means of contacting you. You can leave your email, if you wish, or some other form of social media ID: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Goodreads.

In the first (VERY EXCITING) stop, we’re at That’s What I’m Talking About, with part one of Every Inch an Exhibitionist. This short, set at some indeterminate time after The Professor’s Rule series ends, weaves the past and the present together just as Heidi and I did throughout The Professor’s Rule, as James reveals more of his past with Carson to Satish. (Tune in also for me getting in a few cheap shots at the hyper-glamorized urban myth of kink culture versus the reality as I’ve experienced it.)

In our second stop, Mrs. Condit and Friends Read Books are offering you another chance to get your name in the drawing for TPR #2, so be sure to comment there as well!

EveryInchOfTheWay_400x600Satish Malhotra is in over his head. What appeared to be the hookup of his dreams turned out to be another man’s kinky sex game, and thus ended his relationship with sweet, submissive James Sheridan before it’d hardly begun.

Or so he thought. Being used in someone else’s domination/submission play should have been a deal breaker, yet James—bruises, boyfriend, and all—is too compelling to let walk away. But James has needs Satish isn’t sure he can fulfill, and it seems his mysterious Professor isn’t willing to share.

Can Satish keep James happy in bed and in life, or will James be forced to choose between his dominant and his burgeoning vanilla romance with Satish?

Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4) and To the Very Last Inch (The Professor’s Rule #5) are now available at Riptide, and just about every other major ebook retailer. Or, exclusively at Riptide, you can get The Professor’s Rule: The Complete Collection for 40% off! And if you want to “try before you buy”, you can grab Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule #1) for absolutely free.

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The #STRAIN #blogtour Day 4: Fluid exchange @TheBookNympho and a deleted #BDSM scene @SinfullySexyB #mmromance @RiptideBooks

Today is a really exciting day on the Strain blog tour! I’m over at The Book Nympho with an article discussing fluid exchange and subverting tropes, and then I’m at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews with an entire deleted sex scene from Strain, complete with some heavy BDSM action.

Remember that each stop you join me at and comment gives you another chance to win an ebook copy of Impulse: The Complete Trilogy, so be sure to check these out. Also stay tuned tomorrow, for the final stops on the tour, one of which is the 4000-word sample first chapter of the (rough draft) of Bane, the prequel to Strain. This book is still a WIP so I make no promises about how much of this first chapter will change, but you’ll at least get a look at what’s to come!

Enjoy!

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Up on NetGalley, excerpts, reviews and more!

Lots of news this week as we get closer to the release of Strain and TPR #4-5!

First of all, an excerpt of Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4) is available at Riptide. For all you Satish lovers, we get his POV in this one! Because they’re being released simultaneously, I’m not sure if we’ll get a preview excerpt for #5 (it would spoil the end of #4) but if we do, it should be available soon so keep checking back!

Also, remember that because I am Riptide’s Featured Author of the Month for February, there are lots of discounts on The Professor’s Rule right now:

Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule #1) is FREE all month!
An Inch at a Time (The Professor’s Rule #2) is $2.25–25% OFF!
Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4) and To The Very Last Inch (The Professor’s Rule #5) are $0.99 each–67% OFF!
And if you want to catch up on TPR all in one go, The Professor’s Rule: The Complete Collection is available for $8.97–40% OFF!

Most of these discounts will expire at the end of February, so be sure to grab them while you can! If you pre-order at Riptide, TPR #4-5 will be available on-site starting at midnight on March 1.

In other news, Saugatuck Summer is now available at NetGalley! I know some readers have really been looking forward to this one and, well, I’ve made it pretty clear a number of times how I feel about this book, so I’m really excited to get this into the hands of readers and reviewers! Saugatuck Summer is also available for pre-order at Riptide for 22% off–only $6.99!

Finally, with less than two weeks to go, more reviews are starting to come in for Strain, so if you’re still wondering if it’s for you, check out this list of review links, as well as the link to GoodReads, here on my Strain page!

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Guess who’s @RiptideBooks February featured author of the month?

Yep, that would be me!

This means, of course, that a whole bunch of my titles are on sale this month at Riptide. You can get The Laird’s Forbidden Lover for 50% off ($1.99), An Inch at a Time (The Professor’s Rule #2) for 25% off ($2.25) and–get this–pre-orders for Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4) and To the Very Last Inch (The Professor’s Rule #5) are 67% off ($0.99!!!)

And, of course, there has to be a freebie! That would be Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule #1), free all month!

Also, pre-orders of Strain and Saugatuck Summer are both still 22% off, or $6.99 each. And the entire The Professor’s Rule collection is on sale at $8.97, 40% off.

So, uh, yeah, get it while the getting’s good, huh?

While you’re there, be sure to check out the interview I did for Riptide, where you can also get a little info on my upcoming projects!

Also, Kazza K. at On Top Down Under Book Reviews has named Strain her Book of the Month for February! If you haven’t read her incredibly generous review, be sure to do that! (caution: may contain spoilers)

So February is going to be a hopping month for me! Just over two weeks until Strain releases, and just over four weeks until TPR #4-5 release. Come along for the ride!

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The final chapters of The Professor’s Rule, now for pre-sale @RiptideBooks #mm #bdsm #romance

The final two chapters of Satish, James, and Carson’s tale are now available for pre-sale at Riptide.

Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4)

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Satish Malhotra is in over his head. What appeared to be the hookup of his dreams turned out to be another man’s kinky sex game, and thus ended his relationship with sweet, submissive James Sheridan before it’d hardly begun.

Or so he thought. Being used in someone else’s domination/submission play should have been a deal breaker, yet James—bruises, boyfriend, and all—is too compelling to let walk away. But James has needs Satish isn’t sure he can fulfill, and it seems his mysterious Professor isn’t willing to share.

Can Satish keep James happy in bed and in life, or will James be forced to choose between his dominant and his burgeoning vanilla romance with Satish?

To the Very Last Inch (The Professor’s Rule #5)

ToTheVeryLastInch_400x600

Just days after their scorching reunion, Professor Evander Carson has kicked his one-time pupil James Sheridan to the curb—and tried to sabotage James’s new relationship with Satish Malhotra. Something isn’t right here, but James isn’t sure he should bother trying to figure out what. Carson isn’t good for him and will never change. He needs to accept that and move on.

Satish knows something is up, too, but he thinks the relationship between Carson and James is worth saving. To do the right thing, Satish will have to make James and Carson confront the secrets they’ve hidden for years and help them to overcome the pain and mistrust they’ve caused.

But if Satish succeeds, where will that leave him and his intensifying romance with James? Will the three of them be able to find the right balance, or will James be forced to choose between the pain and submission he craves with Carson, and the sweet, vanilla stability he’s found with Satish?

And for those of you who have been waiting for the series to be complete before going on the journey with James and his men:

The Professor’s Rule: The Complete Collection

School is back in session.

When undergrad student James Sheridan set out to seduce his way into a better grade, he had no idea what he was signing on for. Professor Evander Carson wasn’t about to trade a good grade for sexual favors, but he was definitely willing to tutor his wayward pupil in far more than history.

By the end of their tumultuous relationship, James not only excelled academically, his sexual horizons had expanded to include pleasures—and agonies—the likes of which he’d never dreamed. But enough was more than enough, and James fled from his Professor, unsure of where his limits lay or if he had the wherewithal to set boundaries.

Two years later, a chance misdial puts James back in contact with his former instructor and brings all his old cravings back in force, leaving him yearning to kneel once again at his Professor’s feet. But James has a new life now, with new sexual and romantic prospects—most notably the charming menswear salesman Satish Malhotra. Still, the pull to return to Professor Carson is a powerful thing. Can James give in to it without giving up his newfound confidence and budding romance?

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Humiliation #kink–getting the appeal #bdsm #amwriting #mmromance

So, apparently this is my week for rants. No, Mercury is not retrograde. Nor am I PMSing. I have no idea WTF is going on, but be warned.

I’m gonna come right out of the gate saying this: I don’t practice humiliation kink. I’m not a dominant at all, and I have a particular history and set of neuroses that would make anyone pulling humiliation kink with me as a sub pretty bad.

However, there’s this lovely little phrase that I’ve seen used in fandom circles–actually, it started in the BDSM community in the 90s–and I think it needs to be more widely adopted out here in the LGBT romance genre: YKIOK (Your Kink is OK–a shortened form of Your Kink is Not My Kink But Your Kink is OK–as opposed to its self-righteous evil twin, YKINOK, or Your Kink is Not OK.)

I think a lot of us in this genre have been forgetting that. I’ve seen a lot of kink-shaming and a lot of people savaging perfectly good books just for having kinks they don’t enjoy. And it pisses me right the hell off.

But, you ask, if you don’t practice humiliation kink, why do you write it?

Short answer: My characters are not me. They choose their own kinks. Sometimes those kink are things I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot bamboo cane.

Longer answer: My characters are not me. They have their own history, personalities, and neuroses that might make humiliation kink appealing, or even cathartic and healing. But what’s the appeal, you ask? It’s no different than masochism, really. It’s just masochism of a different sort. Instead of getting off on physical pain, one is getting off on shame or emotional pain.

Or, for those submissives who aren’t masochists (physical or emotional) it’s something else entirely.

It can be a removal from self. It can be a test of submission. This is how pain play works for me, in fact. I’m not a masochist. I don’t find pain to be pleasure. But if my dominant can do something to me that I find patently unpleasant, then I’ve truly surrendered, see? I’ve yielded myself, preferences, my will, to someone else and let them have complete control. If it pleases them to hurt me, then I’m pleased to be hurt, not because I enjoy being hurt but because it means I’m not calling the shots and my preferences are not driving the encounter (within negotiated boundaries, of course.)

It’s no different for humiliation kink (except that, for me, it falls outside the negotiated boundaries.) Instead of being removed from control of one’s physical self and preferences, one is removed from one’s ego. If a submissive has given the dominant the power to say or do or force the submissive to do anything the dominant commands, no matter how shameful or humiliating, there is surrender in that. And that surrender can be a beautiful thing.

My first experience writing humiliation kink came from the character upon whom I based Derrick from my Impulse books. It wasn’t in a story at that time, it was in a role-play. He and his partner were talking and trying to get an idea of his turn-ons, and the partner asked if proto-Derrick (who was named Garrick, in the role-play) would want to be nude or perform sexually in public. Garrick’s immediate reaction was “No” but even as Garrick was giving that response, I–being deep in Garrick’s head at the time–knew that if a partner made Garrick do it, he’d do it, even if it was something he would flinch away from or reject otherwise.

So, having made that discovery about Garrick, I had to ask myself why. Why would Garrick do that? And the answer was that his pride, his ego, his sense of self, was his final hold-out, the thing that would always keep him from surrendering entirely. And if he wanted surrender, then the dominant would need to break down that wall.

This is why you see Gavin, in the Impulse books, call Derrick names like “bitch” and “whore” and “slut.” Does he mean it? No, of course not. But it chips away at Derrick’s resistance, puts him in a position where he has to choose between surrendering his pride, or safewording. And once he surrenders his pride, that’s when he becomes truly open and vulnerable to Gavin and gives Gavin complete control, rather than just playing a part.

And in the complete paradox that only makes sense to those who truly understand BDSM, that total surrender becomes a source of even greater pride. On the other side, the sub emerges to say, “Look what I endured for my dom. That took a lot of strength.” It leaves the sub feeling even more confident and sure of themselves (assuming it’s done correctly.)

This is actually a bit of a recurring theme in my books, at least those dealing with kink. I have a lot of prideful characters, so finding various ways to slip past that pride to get to the vulnerability underneath becomes something the dominant must do.

There are lots of ways to accomplish this. Forced exposure and exhibitionism is only one way. Infantilism might be another. Or treating the sub as an animal (where do you think the collar and leash thing comes from?) Toilet play might be part of it, or even just taking away privacy where such bodily functions are concerned.

For example, I have a manuscript I’m working on (Risk Aware) where the dominant character, Robin, denies his submissive partner, Geoff, the right to close the bathroom (or any) door. On one level, it’s just a flat-out control thing. “You aren’t allowed to shut me out of wherever you are.” But on the other level, what he’s doing is depriving Geoff of the dignity of privacy, even when Geoff is using the toilet. Geoff is not allowed to hold back even his most embarrassing moments of biological functioning (arguments of whether basic biological functions should be considered embarrassing aside.) If he farts, Robin might hear it. If he makes a stink, Robin might smell it. If he pees, Robin might watch. Is it because Robin has some sort of toilet fetish and finds these things sexy? No. It’s just about denying Geoff the ability to hold back any part of himself from Robin (again, of course, always within negotiated boundaries, so keep that in mind if you’re going to try this at home, kids.)

We see some of this in The Professor’s Rule, as well. In the first book, Giving an Inch, we see James expose himself to Professor Carson in a way that he finds deeply embarrassing. But that is part of James’s submission, part of what he needs to do to get to the place of surrender he desires. He’s a masochist, so pain play isn’t going to break him down, at least not entirely. He has other hold-outs.

Leta Blake does something very similar in Training Season. The dynamics of Matty and Rob’s relationship and why this sort of play might be appealing and even beneficial for the two of them, I will leave you to discover for yourselves. But there is a moment in the book where, unless you get into the deeper intricacies of what submission and surrender mean in various circumstances, they could seem gross. I know a lot of people go off on “BDSM is not therapy” rants and that is, to a degree, very true. BUT. Just because it isn’t therapy doesn’t mean it can’t be cathartic or healing. Yes, a lot of people practice BDSM just because it’s fun and because it feels good for whatever reason. But we each of us come into it with our own unique set of life experiences and issues, and we each of us might find something within it that helps us in ways perhaps therapy can’t, because it fulfills a need or helps us face a fear, or for any of a multitude of reasons.

And here’s the thing: romance fiction isn’t real life. In romance fiction, people’s issues often infiltrate parts of their lives that in reality, might not be such a big deal. I mean, if I wrote a story about a character with A, B, and C neuroses, and I set it up so that those neuroses don’t come into play when he’s doing BDSM scenes just because he finds BDSM fun and pleasant, most readers would cry foul. Because we’re in his head. We want to know what affect this is all having on him emotionally and psychologically.

Sex isn’t just about tab A into slot B and BDSM play isn’t just about swinging a whip and “oh, ow, that hurts.” Those scenes would be exceptionally boring if we didn’t get into the characters’ heads and go deeper with it on the emotional level (as my esteemed editor Sarah Frantz likes to say, “but what is he feeeeeeeling?”) And going deeper with it includes figuring out how it plays off of and into the neuroses that are part of the character’s journey through the book.

So. Your Kink is not My Kink but Your Kink is OK. Does name calling or toilet play put you off? Yeah, me too. But I’m not my character, and neither are you, and you might find your reading experience enhanced if you look beyond “would I enjoy doing that?” into what the play in question is accomplishing for the character. Because the odds are that if an author has gone there, they’ve done so for a reason. Look for it.

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In other news, Inch by Inch (The Professor’s Rule #3) is already available for download at Riptide Publishing, and will be available at most other ebook retailers later tonight or tomorrow. And Heidi Belleau and I will be on a blog tour this week discussing James, Satish, and the Professor, and what we can expect from them going into the last two Professor’s Rule books. This will include a couple sneak peeks at Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4) and a chance to win ebook copies of TPR books you might not have read yet, so be sure to check it out!

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My books are not a PSA #bdsm #unpopularopinions #50SoG

Okay, so I’m a pretty social-justice conscious person. I’m well-aware of my cis-het white privilege, try to keep it checked as much as I can, try to boost the voices of my LGBT and POC friends to get their message across without speaking over them, and just generally try to live with as much sympathy and empathy and decency as I possibly can.

And here’s the thing. The majority of LGBT romance readers? Are also very aware of social justice issues, and aware of a lot of other sexual minority issues, such as those relating to safe sex and BDSM play. They don’t always handle them perfectly, but they can’t help but be aware of them by social media osmosis. There is not a single author or reader I follow on Twitter or Tumblr who doesn’t make posts or reblogs/retweets about social justice issues.

As the risk of being told “ur wrong” I would hazard a guess that the LGBT Romance audience is at least slightly more educated about these various issues than the common consumer.

In short: our readers are smarter than the average bear (the Yogi kind, not the leather-wearing kind.)

This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because it means that we, as writers, have to pay attention to the details of what we do and make sure we don’t screw up, and that if our characters screw up, it’s because of a deliberate choice we made as authors to go that route, not because we were ignorant. But it’s a blessing because it means that we are not obligated to use our books to educate our readers on social or safety subjects, because they already know the issues at play.

Unfortunately, sometimes the blessing and the curse happen concurrently. Like, for instance, when our characters make choices that are not necessarily safe or correct, and our readers are aware of what IS safe and correct and believe that the author should have had the characters do it right.

The problem is, we, as authors (and especially as authors with an informed audience) are not obligated to make our books Public Safety Announcements.

Let’s take BDSM, for an example.

I’ve been involved with the BDSM lifestyle, whether actively playing or just hanging on the fringes with other not-presently-practicing lifestylers, for nearly twenty years. I’m well aware of the danger of the play we may pursue, how conscious BDSM practitioners need to be about the risks and about consent issues. I’m well aware of the misconceptions the uninformed public might hold and how it can lead them to making unwise or risky choices.

I think there are approximately zero people who are actually informed about BDSM who thing that Fifty Shades of Grey portrays it well, or sanely, or consensually, or safely. And I know some of them feel like the book should be shredded and the author (figuratively) scourged because of how badly those issues are handled. But for me, the way BDSM was handled in that book is not the make-or-break issue.

What is the make-or-break issue for me in that book is that it takes a relationship that already has a metric fuck ton of abusive subtext (Twilight meets all 15 criteria for an abusive relationship, according to domestic abuse authorities, and so does 50SoG because the relationship is based on the one in Twilight), romanticizes it (“the hero isn’t being abusive when he jerks the heroine around, sends her conflicting messages, stalks her, blames her for things that are his fault, and controls her social contact and the information she’s allowed to expose herself to; he’s just angsty and conflicted and enigmatic!”) and then throws badly-done BDSM on top of it.

The result is that it packages BDSM with a romanticized abusive relationship and then markets it to an UNINFORMED AUDIENCE (note that word: uninformed.) The target audience for Twilight and 50SoG is not the same as the target audience for LGBT Romance. We’re talking primarily vanilla cis-het women, either very young or from an older generation that is not as current on social issues, who are often quite ignorant of sexual and BDSM-safety questions, and who are already at risk of mistaking romanticized abuse for romance due to being inundated by images of such relationships in the media all around them.

In other words: the BDSM in 50SoG is problematic, but it’s not THE problem. The problem is the whole package.

But the LGBT Romance audience is different. They’re savvier. They’re less susceptible to being inundated by romanticized abusive relationships from the media because they are not only more informed on the various issues at play, they also read books that largely side-step harmful gender-role tropes and problematic power dynamics prevalent in M/F romance. That means we LGBT Romance authors can relax a little more about the messages we’re sending.

But even if we couldn’t…

Books are not Public Service Announcements. They are fictional narratives intended for entertainment and perhaps even to provide escapist fantasies.

One large issue this particular topic comes back to is the use of condoms, a subject I’ve posted about before. Our audience already knows about the proper use of condoms, and our authors are as well. If the author chooses not to have a character use condoms, it’s because the author has made the choice deliberately, either to further a fictional, escapist fantasy where sex without condoms is sexier, or because it’s a choice they feel their character would make, even if the author doesn’t support it. Our characters are not obligated to live by our (the author’s or the audience’s) ethics and standards of acceptable practices.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Anyone who wants to accuse me of being a proponent of unsafe sex because my character chooses not to use a condom is cordially invited to read my upcoming thriller about the author who goes around ax-murdering self-righteous and moralizing critics who are too ignorant or full of themselves to get the difference between fantasy and reality. Because if my character does it, clearly I’m okay with it, right?

(That thunderous sound you hear is not a nearby bowling alley, it’s my eyes rolling. Yes, hundreds or thousands of miles away. I’m that over it with this subject.)

The same goes for BDSM practices. If my characters choose to do something that would be absolutely Not Okay in the BDSM community (issues of SSC vs. RACK aside) it’s not because I don’t know how to BDSM. It’s because I made a creative choice to have my character do something that I, myself, might not be a proponent of.

Authors who do not condone rape can still write non-con or dub-con escapist fantasy. Because they trust their audience to be sane people who recognize the difference between fantasy and reality.

So before you jump all over an author and savage him or her with URDOINITRONG! stop and ask yourself the following questions:

1) Is the character doing this because the author is ignorant of the subjects at play, or because the author has chosen to take that route for reasons specific to that author, that character, or that scenario?

and 2) Who gave you the authority to demand an author make each and every work a treatise on the safe and proper use of condoms, or BDSM play, or whatever?

It’s really that simple. Authors are under no obligation to pander to your person crusade on “how to condoms” or “how to BDSM” etc. Their only obligation is to tell a story. You’re under no obligation to like it. You’re under no obligation to read it. Just don’t get self-righteous about it or assume objectionable creative choices equate to ignorance. And recognize that you have absolutely no right whatsoever to expect or demand that they do so.

My books are here to tell a story, not to promote a social agenda–mine or anyone else’s. Full stop.

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5 stars to Training Season by Leta Blake, now available!

Since Leta has decided to release TRAINING SEASON early so that people can take advantage of the ARe 50% rebate when buying it, I’m going to post the review I wrote last week.

Training Season

Training Season by Leta Blake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an amazing book. Where do I even begin?

Matty. I love that he is so unapologetically femme. He totally owns who he is and that is amazing. But he’s also a very flawed character, in the best possible way. He’s bitchy and selfish and immature at times. But he’s so damn passionate about everything that you just have to adore him.

Rob. If he has one flaw as a character, it’s that he’s a little too perfect and could use a couple flaws. But he’s also the perfect stabilizing, grounding thing Matty needs in his life.

The story. At times it was so hilarious I literally LOLed and other times I literally wept. It took me across the entire emotional spectrum. I love that there were no easy solutions to the dilemma Matty faced, no pat, perfect way he could have it all without sacrificing something. And I love that this book goes a route many wouldn’t, and demonstrates that even when you do make the sacrifices and give something your all, sometimes it’s still not enough. The side characters were well constructed, each having their own subtle influence on the MCs without ever being heavy-handed.

And all of this was delivered in Leta’s smooth, flawless prose. I don’t know how she does it. I envy her the knack for it. She manages to be descriptive without becoming flowery, and there are never any moments (as there almost always are with other authors) where I read a sentence or a paragraph and it just feels clunky and takes me out of the story. She’s truly one of the best authors I’ve read in this genre.

Now, in the interest of transparency, Leta is a friend of mine and I read an earlier incarnation of this book years ago. That said, it’s still an amazing book, and even better for the changes and additions she’s made. Nothing I’ve said in this review has been sugar-coated; every word is 100% true and I would make all these same statements about this book if it were written by a complete stranger.

Anyway, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

GET TRAINING SEASON TODAY AT ARe!

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Catch A Sneak Peek of Inch By Inch (The Professor’s Rule, #3) @thejeepdiva

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Catch A Sneak Peek of Inch By Inch (The Professor’s Rule, #3) @thejeepdiva

Last month, The Jeep Diva hosted an audience participation feature for Heidi Belleau and myself. We took recommendation for the sorts of activities people wanted to see James and the Professor engage in, selected some finalists, and then took a vote. Sensory deprivation won, and now The Jeep Diva is hosting a look at the scene in question, which will appear in Inch by Inch, TPR#3. Check it out, and thanks to The Jeep Diva for featuring us!

Remember also that Inch by Inch is now up for pre-sale at Riptide and pre-ordering qualifies you to enter a drawing for free books for a year.

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Great discounts on ebook bundles this week @RiptideBooks!

To celebrate the launch of their redesigned website (it’s really cool, guise!) Riptide has bundled some titles and are offering them for 60% off. My novella, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover is in the Hot Historicals bundle, and Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule #2) with Heidi Belleau is in the BDS-Mmmmm bundle. So if you’ve been wanting to check either one out, now is a great time!

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Cover art reveal! Whee!

Yay! We have our cover art (and a banner, too!) for Giving an Inch, due out April 15.GivingAnInch_468banner

School is Back in Session

History grad James Sheridan thinks his biggest problem in life is trying to find a suitable outfit for his upcoming Ph.D. candidacy exam. That is, until he accidentally texts a changing-room selfie meant for his fashionable sister to his ex, the domineering Professor Carson.

James and Carson haven’t seen each since James fled their power games two years ago. Back in his undergrad days, Carson was his Professor, and not just in the academic sense: a man of unusual tastes and extreme sexual demands, James had been happy to sate Carson’s savage appetites. Too happy, in fact. He never could trust himself not to let Carson push too far.

Now James is older and wiser, and sharing some seriously flirtatious vibes with a cute menswear rep. When Carson replies to James’s errant text, ready to pick up where they left off, James can’t help being drawn back into Carson’s control. It’s only when Carson suggests involving the salesman that James has to ask himself how far is too far, and whether he’s willing to go there with Carson again.

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More on “Giving an Inch” — the project I never saw coming.

As I mentioned in my last post, yesterday morning I signed two contracts with Riptide Publishing. The one for the Highland story, I had been expecting for a couple weeks, but the second one (which was actually the first one signed and delivered) took me completely by surprise.

First of all, allow me to refer you to Heidi Belleau’s post on the subject.

The story went something like this. My current WIP was paused while I did some fact-checking, my latest round of edits on the The Laird’s Forbidden Lover had been turned in, I was waiting for edits on the two other novels I have in progress, and while I have two more novels in the conceptualizing stage, neither of them were ready for me to begin writing. So, I found myself one evening without anything to do and since I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not working anymore, I whinged about it on Twitter (because I’m reasonably certain Twitter was invented to give me an outlet for my whinging while restricting the number of characters in which I have to do it.)

Next thing I know, Heidi’s telling me she has a short she could use a co-writer on. And while I’m certainly familiar with her, I didn’t expect she had ever heard of me, much less would invite me to co-write something with her. I mean, I’m pretty small potatoes so far. (And now I’m really, really nervous that she — being something of an authority — will find my Highland story terribly, terribly wrong.)

But, in very short order we had a manuscript ready to turn in and a concept for a kick-ass series.

The series will be called The Professor’s Rule and it will explore both the past and present dynamic between a professor and his student. The current story, due out April 15, is called Giving an Inch:

History grad James Sheridan thinks his biggest problem in life is trying to find a suitable outfit for his upcoming Ph.D. candidacy exam. That is, until he accidentally texts a changing room selfie meant for his fashionable sister to his ex, the domineering Professor Carson.

James and Carson haven’t seen each other since James fled their power games two years ago. Back in his undergrad days, Carson was his Professor, and not just in the academic sense: a man of unusual tastes and extreme sexual demands, James had been happy to sate Carson’s savage appetites. Too happy, in fact. He never could trust himself not to let Carson push too far.

Now James is older and wiser, and sharing some seriously flirtatious vibes with a cute menswear rep. When Carson replies to James’s errant text, ready to pick up where they left off, James can’t help being drawn back into Carson’s control. It’s only when Carson suggests involving the salesman that James has to ask himself how far is too far, and whether he’s willing to go there with Carson again.

I find the dynamic between the characters fascinating, particularly with the addition of the third party, the menswear salesman, Satish. I’m pretty much halfway to in love with him already. It’s going to be fun, so stay tuned for future installments from this series.

Within the next day or two, the book should be available for pre-order on the Riptide website.

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Subversive Lit. I love it. And this is why.

Power Play: Resistance (Power Play, #1)Power Play: Resistance by Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brilliantly Subversive, Deliberately Horrific (aka: read the freaking subtext)

SPOILERS BELOW

It took me a long time and a couple read-throughs to digest this book enough to collate my thoughts into the ability to write a review, which I felt really moved to do because I think a lot of people miss the point of this book, both on the positive and the negative end of the spectrum.

If your first reaction to this book is “OMG HAWT I WANT IT” or “OMG AWFUL HOW DARE THEY” – STOP. Stop right now. Step away from the keyboard. Think about it for a while. If those are your first reactions, you have entirely missed the subtext of what is going on here. Go back, re-read, and pay closer attention.

Let’s get one thing straight. As a practitioner of BDSM, I cannot in any way, shape or form call what happens in this book BDSM. BDSM is a consensual practice, and for anyone with a modicum of common sense, “consent” actually means “informed consent.” I mean, let’s look at the acronym RACK: Risk-Aware Consensual Kink. At what point in this process was Bran ever truly “aware” of anything? Much less the risk of what was going on? Since Bran was in no way, shape, or form informed enough to give true consent, I can’t call this BDSM.

Which is the entire freaking point. Calling this a book about BDSM should rightfully offend any practitioner of BDSM. People who practice RACK should be appalled by what happens in this book, because it is a perversion of everything we hold dear. I sure as hell was. But I was appalled with a purpose.

So while parts of this book were undoubtedly erotic, they were erotic on the level of torture porn, not on the level of BDSM and there is a big, big difference.

But it’s so much more than torture porn. It’s an object lesson in why communication is so important in a BDSM and how without communication, BDSM is just abuse. Without communication, there can be no A in RACK. And without the A, there can be no C.

I can’t presuppose the authors’ intent, but it seems very obvious to me, due to the number of subtle-yet-undeniable parallels, that this book was deliberately constructed to be the anti-50SoG. And by that, I don’t mean this is “50SoG done right” as a number of people have called it, because it’s not done right. Not by a long shot. Let’s be very clear about that. In absolutely no sane world should this be considering “right.” If you think this is something to aspire to in your own kinky life and if you’re not horrified by what happens in this book, you’ve absolutely missed the point. Put the book down and educate yourself before you get seriously injured.

This book isn’t a “here’s how it’s really done” gesture of one-upsmanship. It’s far more subversive and subtle. This book conducts a study, by compare and contrast, of why 50SoG DOESN’T AND WOULD NEVER WORK.

Let’s examine just a few of the parallels between the two books.

Okay, Bran isn’t technically a “virgin” but he is very sexually unaware. Up until this point in his life, sex has been merely the scratching of a biological itch. He hasn’t had sex so much as he’s masturbated using other people’s hands and mouths rather than his own fist. He is also, because he’s so busy working and because he doesn’t have a lot of money, very unaware of the world around him. He exists to go to work to buy food to keep existing to go back to work.

2) Billionaire businessman playboy. That one’s easy.

3) A contract. In neither book is the “contract” legally binding because under the law, you can’t consent to be enslaved. Yet both books pass it off as such.

4) Stalker billionaire, whee!! Having met our Ana/Bran once, the billionaire playboy subsequently becomes rather creepily fixated upon her/him.

5) Denial of information. In 50SoG, Christian Grey deliberately and explicitly refuses Ana permission to research the BDSM lifestyle and inform herself about what she’s getting into. In this book, Jonathan denies Bran permission to become informed by 1) assuming he knows more than he does already and 2) denying him the ability to communicate effectively from the get-go.

6) Isolating the sub. In 50SoG, Christian begins to interfere with Ana’s other social relationships, isolating her and keeping her focus upon him. In this book, Jonathan simply cuts Bran off from the world entirely by moving him in.

7) Sub who doesn’t know she/he is a sub who is traumatized by the early S&M activities because he/she doesn’t enjoy it, because it’s forced upon them.

8) Christian ignores Ana’s safeword. Jonathan punishes Bran for using his because he thinks he “knows” whether or not Bran means it (clearly when he went to Dom school, no one ever taught Jonathan that the safeword is there not only for physical but also for emotional distress.)
(hide spoiler)]

Okay. That’s just in the first, what, 25% of the book? Eight rather obvious parallels. That needs to tell us something. The parallels are handled subtly enough so that they’re not immediately apparent or obviously derivative, but they are unmistakably present, and this book is far too well written for that to have been an accident.

The parallels are deliberate. Why are they there? Because the authors are playing Mythbusters. Don’t know what that is? Basically, it’s a TV show that takes urban legends/myths and uses science to deconstruct them by trying to recreate them exactly as they are described and seeing whether or not they work. If they can replicate the results, the myth is confirmed. If they can’t, it’s busted.

With me so far?

In this case, instead of using science to deconstruct the myth of 50SoG, the authors use their real world BDSM knowledge. They recreate the 50SoG scenario and then they absolutely shred it with a cold, hard dose of reality.

One disaster at a time, they show why 50SoG wouldn’t work given the set-up of the situation. And most of that lesson hinges on the absence of communication.

At the end of the book, Bran tells Jonathan “we stopped talking” but what he’s saying there is “we stopped communicating.” Jonathan didn’t allow Bran to communicate at all, and Jonathan didn’t communicate, he pontificated. And without that communication, what you’re left with is abuse. It’s not BDSM, it’s abuse.

This book is not romantic. If it titillates, it should only do so on the most base, crude, voyeuristic level. This book should be considered intellectually horrific (as should 50SoG) and anyone reading it should be deeply, deeply disturbed by it, whether or not they know the first thing about BDSM.

It’s a book about how BDSM without communication is just abuse. Without communication, there can be no informed consent, and without consent, anything that happens is abuse. It simply is. What this book shows us is just how terrible 50SoG is, because it takes that abuse and tries to make it pretty and romantic. In this book, the abuse is not pretty and romantic, and it strips away the pretty, romantic mask from what happens in 50SoG and reveals the ugly underside of what is really going on.

Then it goes on, in the sequel, to turn this lesson on its head and show the flip side, how once communication is established, everything falls into place and works. Once and only once there’s communication, trust and even love can develop, and a beautiful relationship can evolve. But that’s a review for another time.

It’s a brilliant construction, it truly is, and I have to give Ms. Haimowitz and Ms. Grant mad props for being so deftly subversive. I’m only giving four stars because it still makes me cringe and want to read with a hand over my eyes while peering out of the slits between my fingers, but the writing, and the lesson it teaches, is absolutely top-notch.

(This review is copied from GoodReads)

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E.L. James did not invent BDSM and other discussion topics

Authorly thoughts here….

As I watch the reviews for Acceleration come in, I’m finding it interesting that there are no comments on the reviews. Nor are my books being talked about in general discussion on forums over at GoodReads, the Amazon Kindle forums, etc. A Google search for my name/titles turns up the reviews and announcements regarding my books, but no random mentions elsewhere. My guest blog posts and author interviews get almost no comments unless there’s a giveaway attached.

On the mercenary side, I don’t think it’s a far stretch to imagine that discussion generates sales and brand recognition. Naturally as someone trying to make a living at this gig, that’s a consideration.

But more importantly, on the perhaps somewhat egotistical side, I want to know that I’m making an impression. I put an awful lot of effort into my books to include things that will make people think about them and hopefully remember them. I want to know, is any of that getting through?

What is it, do you think, that makes a book discussion-worthy? What is it about some books that brings people together to discuss the book with one another? It’s obviously not just the quality of the book. After all, my books are getting great reviews and have great ratings, so obviously readers are finding it quality to be fairly high. So it must be something else. But what?

Is it author presence? I confess, I’m a horrible lurker. I follow a lot of sites but almost never comment. I rarely find places to introduce myself into a conversation, especially when we’re adding the fact of not wanting to appear to be engaging in crass self-promotion. Even if something in my books happens to be topical, I will often refrain from commenting somewhere because I don’t want to look like I’m pimping myself.

Furthermore, one of the earliest pieces of advice I got once I published Inertia was not to engage too much with readers. It makes them feel creeped-upon and inhibits open discussion, I was told. And in the worst case scenario, it might tempt trolls to try to bait you if they find you and/or your books objectionable for some reason. So I don’t comment to reviews beyond perhaps thanking the reviewer for their consideration. Should I be doing more?

Should I take reviews as an opportunity to generate discussion on particular themes? For example, one rare comment on a recent review basically implied that BDSM themes are being included in books lately because authors are trying to ride the coattails of the popularity of 50SOG.

If I didn’t have that policy of not engaging commenters, I would have explained that — leaving aside the discussion of the fact that every person with the slightest bit of education about BDSM knows that 50SOG is not about BDSM, it’s about romaticized abuse masquerading as BDSM — E.L. James did not invent BDSM fic. I was in the BDSM lifestyle fifteen years before E.L. James wrote the first word of that book. I wrote my first BDSM-themed fanfic back in the late nineties when online fandom was still a very new thing and almost NO ONE was writing BDSM fic in the (very few) online fandoms that existed at that time, and BDSM hadn’t yet gone mainstream. That particular series of fanfics I wrote became a hot topic of discussion not because they were necessarily great stories, but because it was something new and rare and it was on the forefront of a new trend.

Now, I’m not egotistical enough to claim to be the first. My fanfic may have been ONE of the first BDSM fanfics to be written in the age of online fandom (I don’t know how popular it was back in the days of print ‘zines) but it wasn’t THE first and I make no pretensions otherwise. There were, of course, the writings of the Marquis de Sade (from whom we get the term sadism) and Venus in Furs by Masoch (from whom we get the term masochism.) Then you also have Pauline Réage who wrote Story of O at least a decade before E.L. James (or myself) were born, and of course, Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy and Exit to Eden which was written back before I was old enough to know the definition of the word “dildo.”

In more recent history, of course, there’s Jacqueline Carey’s amazing trilogy that starts with Kushiel’s Dart, which was published in 2001, not long after I started writing BDSM fic myself. That really seems to me to be the crest of the first wave of mainstream BDSM fic.

So, no. The BDSM elements are not included in my stories because of the popularity of 50SOG nor am I attempting to ride anyone’s coattails. It’s included in my stories because I’ve been in the lifestyle and have a deeply personal insiders perspective that many recently popular BDSM fics lack. If anything, E.L. James is riding the coattails of those of us who brought BDSM fic into online fandom and mainstream pop culture long before Twilight fandom even existed.

I don’t say that to pat myself on the back. I know it probably sounds egotistical, and I don’t mean it to be. But it’s the truth. You can, however, see why I would refrain from saying this to a commenter even if I didn’t have a policy of not engaging commenters.

Part of why I lurk is also because I’m trying to be very careful of the reputation I establish for myself as an author. I’m an opinionated bitch at times (see above 😀 ) and I often present my opinions with an unvarnished “take me or leave me” approach that can rub people the wrong way. I don’t want to make enemies or offend people or attract trolls, so I sit on my fingers when I’m itching to opine.

So, back to the question of how to generate discussion. Is it the subject matter of the book(s) in question? I don’t think my books are lacking in themes people would find discussion-worthy, but are they presented in such a way that no one feels like they have anything more to add? I have a hard time imagining that, but I don’t know.

So, readers, other authors. What do you think promotes discussion and encourages people to not just read, but actually think about and talk about your books?

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