I have a new post up over on the Sisters in Smut blog about the Virgin’s Promise plot archetype. You’ve heard of the Hero’s Journey? Consider the Virgin the Yin to his Yang, an inward journey of self-discovery as opposed an epic quest for glory.
As summer cedes to fall, I find myself reaching for what I consider to be quintessential “autumn reads.” Ghost stories, psychological thrillers, epic love sagas. I recently finished Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, which I enjoyed (though not as much as Gone Girl) and my beloved copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife has been whispering to me from its spot on the shelf. The trees are burning gold, and I’ve had to bring the space heater up from the basement so I can continue to write on the porch.
Yes, fall is in the air. But before you pack away the shorts and swimwear, allow me to coax you back into summer’s embrace for a few moments with my new short story, “Wading In.”
Once again, I’ve partnered with Bellesa to bring you this steamy story about an independent woman named Lorelai, who has vowed to put her pleasure first in the wake of a difficult break-up.
When the heat of the night reaches a fever pitch, she sneaks into her neighbor’s pool for a midnight skinny dip. To her surprise, she’s not the only one looking to cool off under the cover of darkness: her handsome new neighbor, Will, has the same idea. And while Lorelai doesn’t need a helping hand to get herself off, she can’t help wondering if it might be time to let someone get close enough to touch.
“Strange things happen to your body when you go a long time without physical contact. After the cravings subside, you start to forget what it feels like to be touched…”
Read an excerpt below:
Tossing back the sheet, I rose from the bed and threw on a T-shirt and shorts. Pippa lifted her head from where she lay sprawled out on her dog bed. I told her to stay, then padded downstairs, out the back door and into the night.
The moon was bright enough to see by. I didn’t bother trying the gate in case I tripped the censor light on Alma Crowley’s garage. Instead, I opted for the stepladder I’d been using to paint my shutters.
Once I was over the fence, I moved silently across her yard, though I doubted she could hear me with all her windows closed. Moonlight glinted off the ripples on the built-in pool. Feeling giddy, I stripped out of my tank top and shorts, and made my way around to the shallow end of the pool.
A soft moan floated from my lips as I descended the four large steps. Even at lukewarm, the water felt delicious against my hot skin. Dunking under to wet my hair, I propelled myself toward the center of the pool, then resurfaced. I wiped the water from my eyes and breathed a contented sigh.
“Feels great, doesn’t it?”
“Jesus!” I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sound of Will’s voice. I scanned the water until I spotted him, tucked around the bend in the kidney-shaped pool. “What are you doing here?”
“Same thing you are,” he said. “Taking a midnight dip. Sorry if I scared you.”
He didn’t sound sorry. He sounded amused. I moved to cover myself, though I doubted he could see me in the dark. “Why didn’t you announce yourself?”
“Calling out wouldn’t have been very smart, since I’m not supposed to be here. And seeing as how you snuck in over the fence, I’m guessing neither are you.”
Will swam away from the side, pushing himself toward the center, toward me. His teeth glinted. “Honestly? I was admiring the view.”
“Were you, now?” My tongue felt clumsy, too big for my mouth. Figures, the one thing I was trying to avoid would be waiting for me in the place I wasn’t allowed to go. It was like fate was challenging me to sin harder. And there was no denying that Will was sexy as sin.
He sidled up to me, the drops of water on his well-toned chest and arms sparkling like diamonds. “I know you were checking me out on your nightly walks with Pippa.”
I aimed my smile at the water. He’d remembered my dog’s name. “Was I that obvious?”
“No. I only noticed because I was checking you out, too.”
A warm shiver rippled across my skin; I felt as though I’d been dropped into a glass of champagne. I floated onto my back before I recalled that I was naked.
My nipples puckered to tight peaks. I wondered if Will was staring at my breasts, licking his lips and imagining what they might taste like. Arousal skittered like pebbles in a rainstick from the apex of my thighs to the tips of my fingers and toes.
“You know,” he said, “the first time I saw you I couldn’t take my eyes off you, especially your legs.”
My legs had always been one of my best features. I’d often wear skirts when I walked Pippa, hoping Will might notice. I righted myself in the water, planting my feet so I could press my thighs together.
Will swam closer. “I thought about you later that night. About what it would feel like to kneel in front of you on the sidewalk and have you drape your skirt over my head. I wondered what color panties you’d be wearing.”
I wondered if Will could read the desire on my face as clearly as I could read his, plain as white chalk on blacktop. I took a shuddering breath. “Have you thought about me since then?”
Will nodded. “Every night.”
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.
I am pleased to announce that my short, kinky story “House Rules” is now available as part of Insatiable Press’s first original anthology exploring women’s secret fantasies, Surprising Myself.
Read an excerpt!
Cole’s gaze narrowed. “So, Maddy, tell me what you’re into.”
It wasn’t a question.
“Standard stuff, I guess,” I said. “Bondage, S&M, submission. Spanking.”
His lip quirked. “You want to be spanked.”
My buzz was wearing off. I wiped the sweat from my upper lip, hoping he hadn’t noticed it, which was silly because we were practically on top of each other. I was tired of talking and having the spotlight focused solely on me. “What about you? I’m sure the sex you and your fiancé had put everything you did with Ashley to shame.”
“My ex wasn’t into it.”
“Oh.” I paused. “How long were you two together?”
Cole’s gaze dropped. “A year and a half.”
“Can I ask what happened?” I needed to hear him say it.
Cole sighed. “I scened with someone else. We didn’t have sex, but we may as well have, as far as my ex was concerned. She was right, in a lot of ways. There was some emotional infidelity.” He studied his hands. “It’d been so long. I just…needed the release. I never wanted to hurt her.” He grunted. “I mean, I did. That was kind of the problem.”
Cole scrubbed his guilt-ridden face. I couldn’t condone his behavior, but I could relate. For years I’d placed myself in relationships with men who couldn’t give me what I wanted. I thought I was being practical, but in truth, I was afraid — afraid that the things I wanted were too extreme, too strange, too hard to find, so why bother?
Eventually, I stopped dating altogether. Vanilla sex left me hollow. I wanted to be filled to bursting.
I took a deep breath and touched Cole’s knee. “I’m sorry. I know how it feels to repress who you are in order to fit someone else’s mold of what’s acceptable, and I know what it is to deny yourself the things you want most. But you shouldn’t have to.”
Cole stared at my hand. “Why do you deny yourself?”
“Fear mostly. And the belief that what I want most is something I can never have.”
“And what do you want?” Cole studied me, his eyes hungry for something I couldn’t put into words. I only knew I wanted to give it to him.
He wetted his lips. “Madeline, when you played with your exes, did you use a safe word?”
“What was it?”
I swallowed hard.
Product Description: Thirteen writers present sexy, steamy stories of women getting the chance to live out their personal fantasies. What’s yours? Whether it’s several lovers at the same time for a pulse-pounding ménage scene or the allure of getting caught in public, these stories will set your mind ablaze. From voyeurism in a sex club to swinging, cuckolding to cosplay, Surprising Myself brings you stories from 13 hot new writers to watch out for and just might make you think about fulfilling your own wildest fantasy.
I have to say, 2015 was a fantastic year for me in terms of writing and publishing. It was the year I got to hold my first piece of published work in my hands. It was the year I had three erotic poems and three short stories released in print and ebook anthologies, as well as online (plus a BDSM erotic romance short pending for early 2016 and another out on submission). I completed my first novel just under a year ago and my second in November, the latter of which I intend to begin querying by mid-February.
Side note: writing a query letter is hard, ya’ll. Dare I say harder than writing the book itself. But it can and must be done if you want to be trade published, which I do.
There’ve been some changes. Nearly all of my energy has been rerouted from short stories to novel-length works. I turned my “blog” into a “news” feed because I wanted to devote the majority of my free time to writing fiction. I put a flash fiction series on the back burner that may or may not make it to “The End.”
While I believe wholeheartedly that it’s important to finish what you start, I think it’s also important to stop and take inventory, to ask yourself if what you’re doing is bringing you closer to your goals or slowing you down. I want to write books. Short stories and flash fiction have served as invaluable stepping stones for honing my craft, but the only way to get better at writing novels is to write them.
So, whatever your goals, ambitions or resolutions—writing-related or otherwise—here’s to a productive 2016!
Rounding out at approximately 87,000 words, my novel-in-progress is no longer in-progress. It is done. Well, what I call the “first working draft” of it, anyway. It’s not quite a first draft since I’ve been editing and posting it on Literotica chapter-by-chapter since April 2014, but it’s still a bit rough around the edges—especially those first few chapters. While my ultimate plans for the story are still up in the air, I can say that I’m really, really glad to have finally laid down that last sentence. It took ten months to complete this story and with three anthology projects lined up for February, I’m going to need all the extra headspace I can scrounge up.
I don’t want to wax poetic about the process because, as a rule, I try not to treat my words as though they were precious. Yes, I live and breathe writing and storytelling, but if there’s one quality that I could giftwrap and ship to every budding writer, it would be ruthlessness. By that, I mean: don’t coddle yourself or your work, pledge to finish what you start (and then do that), and if cutting an 8k draft down to 500 words will make the story better, then by all means, snip away.
Having said that, I will concede that the post-I-just-wrote-a-book-high is pretty fantastic in a quiet, “Well, how ‘bout that?” sort of way. I tried really hard not to harbor any expectations as to how it would feel, but a few managed to slip in somewhere between the final chapter and the epilogue. I expected to cry a lot and maybe wind up on the floor for a while. That didn’t happen. In fact, more than anything, what I really want to do is get back to work: the consistent, comforting routine of sitting quietly and meeting the quota.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this story. I love the characters and the smutty romance and the weird little connections that weren’t intended but somehow found themselves lining up all pretty and semi-coherent on the page. I’m happy to have finally given my characters, and hopefully, my readers, a sense of closure and an ending that doesn’t leave them smacking their tongues like they’ve just tasted something cloying.Embed from Getty Images
Finishing this story has taught me a lot about both myself as a writer and novel-crafting in general. My hope is that these observations might be of some use to you, especially if you’re in the thick of your first big project. So, without further ado, here are five things I’ve learned from completing a first draft:
1. Writing fiction will make you more honest and compassionate. While our stories and characters may be imaginary, what we’re ultimately attempting to accomplish each time we put our words to paper is the tapping of some universal truth, something each of us can relate to. Striving to create authentic characters forces us to look at people—really look at them—and see them as they truly are, prejudices and all. It cultivates compassion. I once heard it argued that the best actors are those who, rather than judge a character’s actions or motivations, pause and take the time to contemplate, “How might I be different if I were subject to these particular circumstances?” Writing requires a similar suspension of cognizance. We pull people out of our brain-muck and then make them do things and sometimes those things aren’t so nice. It’s important that we understand why they do the things they do, not just so that we can make them believable, but so that we can make them sympathetic.
2. Trust the stream-of-consciousness. This one took a while to embrace because, for a long time, I was an “edit as I go” kind of writer. However, while that might work for some, I find it to be crippling. You know that incredible feeling when the words just flow as though the prose was moving through you from some other-worldly source? Well, there’s no better way to quell that stream than to ask it to hold on a second while you perfect this description of a chandelier. It’s tough to look at a line of dialogue and know that it’s crap and leave it there anyway, but that’s the pain and pleasure of revision: don’t worry, you’ll be back…many times over. Just get the words down.
3. The show vs. tell situation is slightly different for Erotica and Romance writers. I wish someone had told me this sooner. Somewhere around chapters four and five of The Cabin, I started to feel like I was writing a technical manual. I was reading a lot of craft books that advised me to show, show, show instead of tell. However, what I didn’t realize at the time was that telling is actually an important tool for Romance writers, especially when writing in first-person. Love and sexuality are incredibly personal subjects. If the characters aren’t baring themselves both physically and emotionally, they can come off as cold, stiff, and unrelatable—the kiss of death for a Romance novelist. No, you don’t want to drown your readers in exposition and if I can convey attraction with a shy smile and a head-tilt rather than flat-out stating, “I think you’re dreamy,” I will. But Romance readers expect that inner monologue, and for good reason. It’s a staple of the genre that places the reader inside the protagonist’s head and then guides them throughout the rest of the story, helping them understand why the character might feel or react a certain way. Speaking of which…
4. If the characters are resisting, something might be wrong. I’m not talking about dragging them kicking and screaming into necessary hardships. I’m talking about recognizing a dead end when you see one. For a while I tried really, really hard to convince two of my characters to get friendly, but they wouldn’t have it. That I even needed to “convince” them was a red flag that I wasn’t being faithful to their motivations. Coming up with a great scene is only half the battle. Ensuring that all the pieces align to make said event happen the way you want requires forethought. You need to sow those seeds early so that each action a character takes makes sense.
5. You won’t know how good (or not good) it is until you get some distance. Now, this is another area where a lot of writers differ, but I happen to identify with the camp that needs to tuck a finished piece away for a while before they can effectively edit it. How long this period lasts depends on length. Short stories need maybe a few days to a week, while a novel would require significantly more time to breathe—at least a month. I like to use that in-between time to refresh my brain with shorter projects, like anthology submissions. Each new venture has the potential to stretch you that much further, improving your voice and strengthening your storytelling muscles. By the time you pull that old project out of the digital drawer, you’ll be looking at it with a brand new set of eyes.
Bonus: It really is all about finishing. There are few good reasons not to finish and sucking isn’t one of them. All first drafts suck. We hear it time and time again: “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page” (Jodi Picoult). Granted, knowing when to abandon a project is a skill unto itself, but I’d venture to say that you’re better off at least finishing a first draft before making that call. Finishing is about more than just ending a story. It’s about resolve and proving to yourself (and others, but that’s less important) that you are capable of doing what you set out to do. If you can do it once, you can do it again. And again. And again.Embed from Getty Images