This One is Personal: Dancing With Myself, a Self-Love Erotica Anthology

I’ll be honest, dear reader. This one is personal.

My short story “Unconventional Methods” isn’t autobiographical, per se. However, I did delve a great deal into my own experience to write it. I set out to present a relationship between two people, each confronted with their own unique challenges, who have managed to form a deep, tangible connection without the benefits of touch.

Daniel is English, a Dominant, an amputee and a veteran. Sierra is an able-bodied American submissive coping with mental illness. She is a character, a proxy, but her struggle with social anxiety is a reality for many. It has been for me.

In my experience, social anxiety isn’t just a distaste for crowds or feeling awkward at parties. It’s a full-body response, the desperate need to retreat from the moment you step out the door. To quote my protagonist, it’s “Fight-or-flight at the ice cream shop, where the line is long and the pressure is on so you pick the first thing on the menu, though it’s not what you want, and then you hate yourself almost as much as you hate butter-pecan.”

So, why a story about self-loathing in a collection that’s meant to be about self-love?

Because in the face of crippling isolation, our heroine Sierra has found a way to connect. With the aid of a camera, an Internet connection and a little imagination, she and Daniel have fashioned a Dom/sub relationship that works for them. They support each other and accept each other. They love each other, and it is through this mutual acceptance, love, and support that Sierra is able to find the strength to believe in herself.

Self-love. Self-lust. Self-exploration. This anthology is a celebration of the private—and at times, not-so-private—dance we all know the moves to because we’ve been choreographing it since we realized we had bodies and the capacity for pleasure.

It brings me great pleasure to announce that Dancing With Myself, edited by Jillian Boyd for Sexy Little Pages, is now available in print and ebook.

Nine sizzling, sexy stories of self-love and self-discovery, edited by (and with a story from) Jillian Boyd, featuring Dena Hankins, T.C. Mill, Jordan Monroe, Leandra Vane, LN Bey, Jones, Hollis Queens and Rachel Woe.

In this sensually spellbinding collection, nine authors explore just a couple of the ways one can get themselves off – stories that don’t just hone in on the how, but explore the why, and the “oh… oh my.” Dancing with Myself delves into the heads and between the sheets of a long-distance submissive and her dominant, a cam girl reminiscing, an artist entranced with her unusual subjects and many more.

 

Read an excerpt from “Unconventional Methods” below:

His gaze drifts around the screen. “That chemise looks incredible on you, by the way.”

I glance down at the pearlescent silk top and matching shorts. Gone are the tattered tees and flannel pajamas I used to wear to bed. I now have an entire chest of drawers dedicated to undergarments, delicately folded and arranged by color and type. I’ve imagined Daniel running his fingers over the impossibly smooth materials before asking the salespeople to wrap each piece carefully for transport.

My nipples tighten into points, and I know he can see them. The longing in his gaze is unmistakable.

“Stand so I can look at you,” he says. I set the package on the desk and rise, the fabric caressing my skin as I move. “Turn for me.”

I pivot slowly, careful to keep my outfit within the webcam’s view. Every inch of me is an offering, every word from my mouth an homage. By the time I make it back around, he only has one hand on the desk in front of him.

Tension gathers between my thighs. He smooths his closely cropped beard.

“Now,” he says, “let me see those gorgeous nipples.”

My breath catches; my clit throbs. I want to rub myself but he hasn’t ordered me to, and although we’re an ocean apart and my hands are still my own, I will have to wait because that’s what I’ve agreed to do. I slide the chemise’s delicate straps off my shoulders, one by one, then draw the garment away from my breasts.

Daniel holds his tongue between his teeth. “Touch them.”

I lift and knead my breasts. My nipples tingle as I flick them gently with the tips of my forefingers, drawing a line of pleasure from my breasts to my core. I close my eyes and imagine that they’re Daniel’s fingers, Daniel’s palms. A soft moan floats from my mouth.

“Pinch them,” he says. I squeeze my nipples and flinch at the jolt of pain. He leans toward his laptop screen. “Again. Harder.”

I obey, biting my lips together to stop myself from making too much noise.

“God, that makes my cock ache,” he says, eyes half-lidded. I smile. My pain turns him on, and knowing he’s rock-hard and happy turns me on. He sits back in his chair, both hands on the desk in front of him. “You may open your present now.”

Frustration and curiosity vie for space inside me. Curiosity wins.

Hot and bothered? Grab yourself copy of Dancing With Myself today.

 

 

Longtime readers please note: an early version of this story was previously featured in a two-part blog post on this site. It has since been removed and thoroughly revised for publication.

Venus in Furs: The Pleasures & Perils of Sexual Fantasy

Venus in FursHave you ever picked up a draft of something you’ve set aside for a few weeks or months, all pumped and motivated to sink your teeth into it, only to find yourself thinking, “Who the hell wrote this crap?”

Yeah, it’s been one of those days.

Now that the coffee romance anthology deadline has been pushed back to December, I can commence editing the next chapter of my WIP— aka, the aforementioned WTF draft.

It’s fine. I’m fine. We’re fine!

In the meantime, I’ve wanted to write a post about the transcendence of sexual fantasy into reality ever since I finished Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s scandalous book, Venus in Furs a few weeks back.

Published in 1870, Venus in Furs is inspired by Sacher-Mashoch’s own experiences as a sexually submissive man, from which the term “masochism” was derived.

I’m not going to get into the controversy surrounding the term “masochism” and its place in psychiatry. I’m also not aiming to discuss what that psychological designation implies about masochism as a sexual practice within the BDSM community. Instead, I want to focus on the realization of sexual fantasy within the context of this classic narrative. (Next week, I’ll be posting about tentacle dildos because I’m bad at branding and have taken an “anything sex- or erotica-related goes” approach to my blog. So, if you’re hungry for c-words and this article doesn’t tickle your fancy, stay tuned.)

Venus in Furs opens within the dream of an unnamed narrator in which he and the goddess, Venus—who is dressed in furs—are conversing about love. After waking, he relays the events of the dream to his friend Severin, who presents him with a manuscript titled, Memoirs of a Suprasensual Man, in an effort to cure the narrator of his submissive tendencies.

The nested narrative (the manuscript) tells the story of Severin’s sexual exploits with the young widow, Wanda von Donajew (purportedly modeled after Sacher-Mashoch’s own lover, Fanny Pistor).

Leo with Fannie (Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Fanny Pistor Bogdanoff) via Wikipedia
Leo with Fannie (Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Fanny Pistor Bogdanoff) via Wikipedia

Severin makes numerous attempts to convince Wanda to accept her role as his “Mistress”:

“If I am not permitted to enjoy the happiness of love, fully and wholly, I want to taste its pains and torments to the very dregs; I want to be maltreated and betrayed by the woman I love, and the more cruelly the better. This too is a luxury.”

“In such a revelation only one can be the hammer and the other anvil. I wish to be the anvil. I cannot be happy when I look down upon the woman I love. I want to adore a woman, and this I can only do when she is cruel towards me.”

This is Severin’s fantasy: to be completely and utterly subservient to a dominant woman.

In their initial conversations, Wanda presents the possibility that she might one day, in the event that her feelings for Severin change, take another lover:

“A shudder ran through me. I looked at her. She stood firmly and confident before me, and her eyes disclosed a cold gleam.

‘You see,’ she continued, ‘the very thought frightens you.’ A beautiful smile suddenly illuminated her face.

‘…If I cannot obtain the one that is noble and simple, the woman who will faithfully and truly share my life, then I don’t want anything half-way or lukewarm. Then I would rather be subject to a woman without virtue, fidelity, or pity. Such a woman in her magnificent selfishness would be likewise an ideal.'”

Eventually, Wanda agrees to allow Severin to be her slave. Through floggings, insults, periods of deliberate neglect, being christened with the slave name, Gregor, and finally, being tied to a pillar and whipped by Wanda’s new Byronic lover, Severin comes face to face with the reality of his imaginings and becomes disenchanted:

“The sensation of being whipped by a successful rival before the eyes of an adored woman cannot be described. I almost went mad with shame and despair.

“What was most humiliating was at first I felt a certain wild, supersensual stimulation under Apollo’s [Wanda’s lover] whip and the cruel laughter of my Venus, no matter how horrible my position was. But Apollo whipped on and on, blow after blow, until I forgot all about poetry, and finally gritted my teeth in impotent rage, and cursed my wild dreams, woman, and love.”

Fantasy occupies a significant portion of our psyches and our lives. It’s the story we tell ourselves while standing in line at the grocery store or in bed before we go to sleep. It’s the images that play across our mind’s eye when we should be studying for tomorrow’s exam.

While some of us, like Severin, take the extra step of trying to turn fantasy into reality, many of us prefer to keep them right where they are, either out of practicality or personal responsibility, or perhaps even guilt or shame.

For those who do decide to bridge the gap, questions arise: how does the fantasy translate when moved into the realm of reality? Like Severin, are we doomed to disillusionment? Or perhaps, through playing out our fantasies, are we then cured of them?

Three years after the termination of their affair, Severin receives a letter from Wanda:

“I suppose, I may confess to you that I loved you deeply. You yourself, however, stifled my love by your fanatic devotion and your insane passion. From the moment that you became my slave, I knew it would be impossible for you ever to become my husband. However, I found it interesting to have you realize your ideal in my own person, and, while I gloriously amused myself, perhaps, to cure you.

…I hope you have been cured under my whip; the cure was cruel, but radical.”

By the end of the book, Severin is no longer sexually submissive. Rather, he has become a tyrant in his own right, threatening to beat his female servant at the most innocuous offense. His final words to the narrator are quite telling:

“At present we have only the choice of being the hammer or anvil, and I was the kind of donkey who let a woman make a slave of him, do you understand?”

Severin may have been “cured” of his penchant for submission, but only insofar as he has become a sadist, for one can be either Dominant or submissive, and if he is no longer submissive, then he must be Dominant.

Of course, many of us are lucky enough to be able to play out our sexual fantasies within the safety of a consensual sexual relationship featuring safe words, hard limits, negotiations, open dialogue, and respected boundaries. Severin and Wanda do discuss their arrangement at length towards the beginning of the book, but only so far as to establish that what Severin wants is to be completely and utterly devoted to her every whim (until he’s in the thick of it and her whims no longer mirror his fantasy).

Like all erotica and romance writers, I am a purveyor of sexual fantasy.

According to an article at The Richest, published in January of this year, Erotica and Romance generated the highest earnings of all genre fiction—a whopping $1.4 billion USD in 2013.

This doesn’t surprise me.

The nature of these genres is, by definition, intimate, pulling at heartstrings and touching readers in all the most tender places (ahem). In doing so, it manages to tap into something so incredibly personal: fantasies and desires that many of us will never have and/or take the opportunity to explore in our daily lives. But with the help of talented authors and steamy, engaging fiction, we can get a taste of that which we crave most, no matter how scandalous.

We need not go the way of Severin and his violent disillusionment (though we can certainly try).

Venus in Furs encompasses a multitude of themes, including some really interesting commentary on gender equality. It’s a quick read and written in surprisingly comprehensible language, given its publication date, and I would encourage anyone interested in sadomasochism to check it out (it’s free to download on Amazon). I will note that if you’re looking for graphic depictions of sex, you won’t find them; this is a very subtle text with regard to the sexual acts themselves, focusing much more on the social relations and psychological aspects of masochism.


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