Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Why You Won't See Any "How Not To Write BDSM" Posts From Me

Why you won’t see any “how not to write BDSM fiction” posts from me:

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on blogs from my favorite authors that all revolve around a similar theme. They’re all talking about the “wrong” way to write BDSM fiction or what your story needs to include to be “real” BDSM fiction or “true to the lifestyle.” On the one hand I think those posts are great because I think that in general society has a lot of preconceived notions about the BDSM lifestyle and there is a lot of misinformation about both the practices themselves and the people who chose to express their sexuality in that way and I love that people who are educated and knowledgeable about the subject are trying to help correct these misconceptions. On the other hand I think that these types of posts and views can also be a slippery slope. So, since many of my readers know that in my personal life I’m heavily involved in the BDSM lifestyle and they may be expecting a post of a similar nature from me, I thought I’d take a few minutes to tell you the reasons why you won’t.

Real Life BDSM
Part of my problem with these types of posts in general is that I don’t even believe in that type of absolutism even when talking about real life BDSM. Of course I fully support healthy and safe play, but what that means for each person can differ wildly. To tell anyone else what the “right” way to express their sexuality is comes way too close to kink shaming for me, something I violently oppose. As long as everyone is using RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) as a guideline then if it works for all parties involved you’re doing it “right” as far as I’m concerned.

There are definitely practices and customs that are considered widely accepted as the “proper” etiquette for BDSM play, but in my own experience I’ve found that different kink communities have completely different “energies” and that certain practices are favored or shunned according to the makeup of its members. There are also basic concepts to the lifestyle and the psychology behind it that are considered “universal” to the fetish lifestyle, but even those are not absolute. The one thing I know for certain about BDSM is that as soon as you try to use the word “always” or “never” about a practice, a situation will pop up that will break whatever rule you just named.

This variation in the “rules” for what’s considered safe play makes for a really nebulous quality to the subculture and makes explaining it hard to define sometimes, but it also makes it wonderful. Anyone that tries to take the diversity out of BDSM is missing the point in my opinion. You may not always understand the other person’s needs and point of view, but you can certainly respect it.

Fictional BDSM
I think everything I just outlined about real life BDSM is even more true when talking about fictional BDSM. There is such a range of kinks and intensities and situations available in the fictional world, and I think there’s a place for all of them. For me, the whole point of BDSM fiction is that it’s entirely fantasy. I want to gloss over or completely ignore the realities of BDSM play that sometimes aren’t sexy. I want to read about a scene without having to read about the hours of setup and cleanup required. I want to write about bondage with materials that really probably wouldn’t be safe to use in the real world. I want to push boundaries. I want to explore kinks I wouldn’t enjoy in real life but make me squirm and wiggle in print. Sometimes I want to delve into the darker parts of my sexuality and enjoy reading or writing things that toe the line of consent and sometimes things that blow right by that line. I want to pretend that nothing embarrassing ever happens mid-scene. I want to ignore the realities of bodily limitations and read and write scenes that last for hours at a time and feature several orgasms without any recovery time.

In short I want the fantasy, and my fantasies differ from day to day and they differ from the fantasies of others. To say that any story is “wrong” because the fantasy depicted doesn’t align with your expectations or your taste devalues the freedom of fantasy and fiction altogether. Obviously there are practices that are depicted, or relationships that are developed that I would never condone in a real life BDSM setting, but sometimes that’s part of the appeal.

I will say that there are times when I read a BDSM story and a character’s reactions don’t seem appropriate or something factually seems off but then I remember that my experiences are simply that—mine—and that they may differ, and often do, from others. Sometimes I don’t connect to a story or a character specifically because of the way the BDSM elements of the story are written, but that doesn’t make them “bad” it just makes them not for me.

I’m Not An Expert
So, in conclusion, write what you want because there’s a place for every story and every fantasy has value even if it’s not massively appealing. Even though I have over a decade of my own experience to draw on and the experiences of several close friends to integrate with my own, even though I’ve read hundreds of books dedicated to the art of practicing BDSM I still don’t consider myself an expert. I’m not in any position to tell anyone else what’s right for them in real life or in fiction and I won’t presume to do so. All I know is what’s right for me and my partner.

I do however love to talk about the lifestyle and answer questions about what I’ve noticed to be true in my own experience, so hit me up!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

First Day 'til Christmas:

12 Days ‘til Christmas
On the first day ‘til Christmas, my lovebirds gave to me: 1 thing they’d save if the house was on fire…

Aaron—his grandfather’s baseball cap.
Aaron’s grandfather was a huge Red Sox fan and he took Aaron to see his first game when Aaron was seven. For his grandfather’s next birthday after that, Aaron picked out a Red Sox hat for his gift, intensely proud of himself for choosing it all on his own. Aaron’s grandfather wore that hat everywhere except church after that; Aaron’s grandmother joking that he slept and showered in it too. The hat eventually became so worn and faded the logo was barely visible. In Aaron’s mind, that hat is synonymous with his mental picture of his grandfather. After his grandfather passed away, his grandmother gave Aaron the hat. He never wears it, but it sits in a place of pride on his mantle next to a framed picture of the two of them from that first ballgame, and he carts it lovingly back and forth from his apartment in LA, to his condo in Toronto for filming, to his parents’ house for holidays. He never travels without it.

Liam—his cell phone

As an actor, Liam’s cell phone is his lifeline. He’s got hundreds of industry contacts stored there that he wouldn’t even know where to begin gathering again should he lose them. But more importantly, he’s still got the two hundred thirty-seven pictures from his family’s vacation to Greece stored there. Right after Liam’s first role in a movie, as soon as the check had cleared, he’d taken his family to Greece. His mother’s parents had emigrated from there only a year before his mother was born, and since she was the youngest, she was the only one of her siblings to be born on US soil. She’d talked since she was a little girl about visiting the place where her parents grew up and her siblings were born, and Liam had known since he was little that a trip to Greece was the first thing he’d spend his money on once he was famous. Only, he’d been so caught up in surprising his family, ambushing them only hours before the flight and harassing them into packing without knowing where they were going and hurrying them through the airport to make it on time that no one had thought to bring a camera. The only pictures from that trip, the only time he can ever remember truly feeling free before he met Aaron, are saved on his phone. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Liam: 10 truths, 10 lies, 10 bizarre facts

So I found this really cool writing exercise online where you write ten truths, ten lies, and ten bizarre facts about your characters and I thought it would be fun to do for the characters in A Collar For Christmas, my current WIP. Here's Liam's.

Ten Truths:
1.      An actor is all he’s ever wanted to be.
2.      He’s had problems with anxiety since he was a toddler, but the panic attacks didn’t start until the 7th grade.
3.      He’d never had long hair before he got the part he plays now, but now that he’s grown it out to his chin he loves it. He hopes he doesn’t have to cut it for any upcoming roles.
4.      His eyes are so dark brown they almost look black.
5.      He hates the clothes his character wears.
6.      He’s not good at making friends.
7.      People often think he’s distant, but the reality is that he’s too sensitive to let himself connect to everyone and everything.
8.      He calls his mother every day.
9.      He’s thinking about adopting a cat from a rescue shelter.
10.  He hates to read, but he hates to admit that.

Ten Lies:
1.      He thinks he’s ugly.
2.      He’s not attracted to every male actor in their cast.
3.      He’s not needy.
4.      He hates his sister.
5.      He thinks the writers for the show have no vision.
6.      He wishes they had a different director.
7.      He thinks he’s the best actor in the cast.
8.      He’s never dressed in drag.
9.      He’s never been arrested.
10.  He’s never hooked up with someone without knowing their name.

Ten bizarre facts:
1.      He can’t spell the word apologize to save his life.
2.      When he eats pizza he does it in steps; toppings first, cheese next, then the crust.
3.      He likes ice in his milk.
4.      He’s still good friends with the first boy he ever had a crush on, even though Tommy’s straight and knows Liam used to like him.
5.      There were only 52 people in his senior class.
6.      Lavender is his favorite scent.
7.      When he auditioned, he actually read for a different part and when his agent called to tell him which part they wanted him for, he thought it was a horrible fit for him. Now he realizes how wrong he was.
8.      Steven Tyler was his first celebrity crush.
9.      He doesn’t believe in God, but he believes that all things in the universe are connected spiritually.

10.  He tried to be a vegetarian in high school; it lasted four months.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

No Need to Explain

I really debated on whether or not to post this, because I fear it will come out much more like a rant than anything else, but I just feel it has to be said. I've been reading a rash of BDSM novels recently (and one last night that prompted this) that all tend to try and explain a character's need for BDSM play. I think it's a very fine line these authors are walking and more than a few of them are putting toes (or whole fucking feet) on the wrong side of that line in my opinion.

Let me be very clear here in that there are as many different sexualities as there are people. Everyone has a certain set of emotional needs that can be met through sex (or the lack of, in the case of those who identify as asexual) and that's why we register certain things as more arousing than others. So, that being said there are all kinds of things that could make these emotional needs present themselves.

It's possible for a person to work through a traumatic event with kinky sex. It's possible that neglect from one's family could make them interested in kinky sex. It's possible that anxiety or other psychological disorders can make one enjoy kink. It's possible that previous relationships have driven a person to seek a different type of relationship dynamic.

All of those things are possible, but they're not necessary.

Sometimes people are just born with those needs. Oftentimes it's just part of their personality. I myself enjoy submission and was never the victim of a crime, never neglected by my parents, was involved in a healthy loving relationship when I started exploring kink. There was no "trigger" for these desires popping up for me. In fact, they'd always been there, they didn't "pop up," I just finally got to a point where I felt comfortable exploring them. And that's how it happens for a lot of people in the Scene.

I think authors who feel like there has to be a reason, that "normal" people don't have kinky sex, that their characters have to be flawed in some way to enjoy BDSM are doing themselves, their characters and the Scene a huge disservice.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes having an identifiable "explanation" for these desires works for a character. I've done it myself in some of my books. But there's an art to that. To simply portray a desire for BDSM play as a simple cause and effect scenario almost runs into the realm of kink-shaming in a way. It creates this perception that people who manage to go through life without having any of these "triggering" events in their life don't practice BDSM, so therefore only fucked-up, traumatized, unstable people do, so it's something to be ashamed of, or at the very least something to be hidden away.

To me it all comes down to satisfying needs. Does the sex your characters have satisfy their emotional needs and do the scenes you write reflect the satisfaction of those needs and the search for that satisfaction? If so, then I don't think it matters where those needs originated. But if not, if you don't portray the desire for BDSM play (except in the cases of experimentation or curiosity) as a deep emotional need it's almost like saying it's a choice. Similar to those people who think sexual orientation is a choice and not something innate. BDSM can be a choice, it can be just a bit of fun, just a bit of experimentation, but for most of us in the Scene, it's not. It's a need. A need that sex and kink and the relationship with our partners satisfies in a way that nothing else can. I'd just like to see it portrayed as such in more fiction

Sunday, July 14, 2013


For whatever reason, whenever I'm asked for advice about writing, plotting seems to be the part of the process that aspiring writers are most resistant to. I've gotten comments like, "it takes too much time; I'd rather spend that time writing," or "I like to be much more organic with my process; I like to see where the story goes naturally," or "It doesn't seem to make any difference to my writing, so why bother?" or "I write short stories; what good is plotting going to do for me?" or "I never stick to my outline anyway, so I just stopped using one." In an attempt to convince you to at least do some plotting for your work, I'll address each of those concerns separately. Also, I'd like to say that I don't know a single published author  - and I know quite a few personally, and I read blogs and articles from many others - who doesn't do any plotting at all. While I'm sure there are some exceptions to that, it seems that the large majority does plot. That should tell you that plotting appears to be the habit of successful writers, and like my father told me years ago when I started a new job - look around and find the person in your field you think is the most successful and do what they do until you get your feet under you.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I think the question that I see most often when authors interact with their fans is about their process - how does a story get from an idea to a finished product?  It was a question I often had before I was published the first time and its a question I still ask myself as I feel like the writing process can always be refined.  I think it's a really important question too, because the one thing I think aspiring authors don't understand about becoming published is that writing is less of an art and more of a craft.  Writing is skill - a honed, developed, practiced and REPEATABLE skill.  The key there is repeatable; if you want to be successful (in terms of getting more than one thing published) you have to be able to do it again.

The other thing to remember is that for a publishing house, writing isn't art either: it's a business.  They won't accept your manuscript if they don't think it can make them money - it doesn't matter how good or innovative or inspiring it is.  That may sound callous, but it's the truth, cold and hard to swallow as it is.  Publishing companies have certain things they look for (i.e. things that have sold well in the past) and if your manuscript doesn't have it, then they don't want it. 

What does all that mean for your writing process?  Not a whole lot other than that you need one that's going to help you deliver on all those fronts over and over again, not leave you with folders upon folders of unfinished or rejected manuscripts littering your hard drive.  I've been asked before the nature of my writing process in both broad and very specific terms and so I thought I'd do a few posts on some of the most important parts of my process.