Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sudden Sex Blog Tour: Kiki DeLovely

A woman and a man in an embrace about to kiss with the man's hand in the woman's long red hair and the woman pulling off the man's tank top. The words Sudden Sex are near the bottom of the page in pink and yellow script. Below that it says, 69 sultry short stories. Below that, it says Edited by Alison Tyler, editor of the bestselling Frenzy.

I'm pickled tink to be in another new Alison Tyler anthology and to be reviewing another author's contribution.

I've enjoyed Kiki DeLovely's fiction in a number of lesbian and mixed erotica anthologies, so I was curious what I'd find when I snuggled up with "For the Moment" for the Sudden Sex Blog Tour.

I was not disappointed! It seems that Kiki's narrator and I have a fantasy in common: being the sole femme in a menage with two butches.
My ultimate butch-on-butch fantasy coming to life. I had felt them moving on top of me -- knew it was inevitable and was quite pleased it was happening so soon -- sensed its fruition just in time to catch that first glimpse of my own personal goddess-sent, ambrosia-dripping dream
The story starts out right in the thick of the action -- with hands, mouths, and cocks already in intense, hot action. It's a little breathtaking.

Then Kiki backs up to reveal a bit of how the characters came together (no pun intended) -- the narrator, and her lover, and an ex -- and we get a chance to enjoy the sweetness of their connection. This taste of back story deepened my enjoyment of the hot and heavy action. I also particularly liked the the chemistry between the two butches, who got to get as good as they gave.
I had never before been so filled in my life, had never been able to take so much. But then again, I had never been offered quite so much either.
Like all the stories in Sudden Sex, "For the Moment" is a short morsel. But it is very (ful)filling.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Book Giveaway Winners!

Thanks to everyone who commented on the previous post(s) to enter the Big Book of Bondage giveaway! We have two winners. Since Random.org provides a truly random number sequence, which numbers people are assigned are irrelevant. So I first assigned everyone numbers based on their comments on the various posts by creating this list:

1. BDSM Journal
2. CinthiaRitchie
3. Kristina Lloyd
4. 9cba80ba-ce35-11e0-a7db-000bcdca4d7a (perhaps the longest nickname I've ever seen?)
5. Vicki
6. Madeline Moore
7. CinthiaRitchie
8. CinthiaRitchie
9. CinthiaRitchie

And here are the results:
In large purple Times font, the top says, "Random Sequence Generator." Below that in small black Courier font it says "Here is your sequence:" And then a vertical column of these numbers, "3, 5, 9, 4, 1, 8, 2, 7, 6." Across the bottom it says Timestamp: 2013-02-24 07:35:52 UTC."

I have two books to give away, so the winners are Kristina Lloyd and Vicki. Congratulations!

I'm not sure if Kristina was commenting to enter the contest or just to respond to my praise of her story, "The Bondage Pig." If Kristina does not want another copy of BBoB, the second copy will go to Cinthia Ritchie. Once I have that sorted I'll get in touch with the two winners to get your snail-mail address for the books, which will be sent by whatever method is least expensive (probably media mail).

Winners, if you are inclined to post a review of the book, that would be greatly appreciated!

Coming up soon, my experience with giving readings as a disabled writer, plus the announcement of the book I'm working on. (Yessiree.)

Happy dirty reading.

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Story's Story + Big Book of Bondage Giveaway!

Cover of Big Book of Bondage, bold, striking, and clean. A light-skinned woman's right waist and hip, from about three-quarters up her thigh to one-third of the way up her rib cage. A black leather harness with an O-ring and silver buckles transects her waste and goes under her crotch. Black background behind her. The book title and author's name are all on her hip and thigh, below the harness.
When a new book arrives with my work between its covers, there's a lot to be  happy about.

Sometimes my story is the cause of my excitement. I may have stretched myself creatively or pushed myself physically or had a lot of fun with the characters or the plot.

On occasion I'm jazzed that I've entered a new genre, found a new publisher, or worked with a new editor. Conversely, I may feel a sense of "coming home" when I work with an editor and publisher I know and trust.

Then there are times when the other contributions are so well written that I feel simultaneously grateful and nervous -- glad that my work is in such great company and also intimidated by the talent of the other authors, worried that my piece pales in comparison.

In the case of The Big Book of Bondage, I have many sources of excitement. More of my stories have appeared in books edited by Alison Tyler and published by Cleis Press than any other editor or publisher, which is wonderful for me. This combination virtually guaranteed that my work would be in a book that is high-quality in both its writing and its packaging. 

Even so, I am blown away by the writing in BBoB. These are compelling stories -- the characters, the plots, the tone, the language -- whether or not bondage, or even erotica, are your thang. There are several stories that have become some of my new favorite stories. Kristina Llyod's "The Bondage Pig" is a masterpiece -- it's suspenseful, creepy, dirty, and surprisingly sweet. (Kiki DeLovely reviewed "The Bondage Pig.")

Sadly, the more I read and revel in the other stories, the more I struggle with I'm-not-worthy-itis. To get past this place of pointless self judgement, it helps me to remember how I even ended up involved with book. It started with writing a piece for another Alison Tyler anthology.

I got the idea for the piece, oddly enough, from a Harry Potter book. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the Weasley twins set off a huge box of fireworks, including "shocking-pink Catherine wheels." I liked the sound of the words, "Catherine wheel," and started thinking about and researching bondage wheels. Around the same time as I was researching wheels, I watched the documentary, The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo. Although I was deeply moved and inspired by Kahlo's work, I had no idea until I'd written most of my story that I'd incorporated Kahlo into my piece.

I'd always liked Kahlo's paintings, and I'd heard about her as a queer and feminist icon since I was 18, but I'd never expected to feel such kinship with her, such compassion and companionship. What we have in common is chronic pain, isolation, and lots of time in bed -- all of which are vividly, passionately, and bluntly conveyed in many of her paintings. Pain, scars, and paint are all part of my story. It seems so obvious now, but at the time I was writing it, I was focused on researching body paint (I watched a LOT of youtube videos on body painting) and finding out who my characters were. I wasn't thinking about Frida Kahlo at all.

Self portrait showing Kahlo standing in a pink billowing skirt and no top. Her front is cracked open from under her chin to her pelvis, showing a cracked metal spine inside. Over her shoulders and around her torso are thick, white bands that look like some sort of stiff brace or other painful medical device. All over her skin nails are sticking out of her, and some of the nails are bigger than others, particularly those in her left breast. Below her eyes, her cheeks are covered with tears. The background shows a dark swirling blue sky, and the landscape is many shades of green and brown and looks desolate.
Frida Kahlo's "The Broken Column"
As is so often the case, after I finished the first draft, I was convinced it was a total piece of crap -- an embarrassment and a mess. When I gave the story (and myself) a breather and returned to it for the revision process, I discovered there was a lot I liked about it. By the time I was done, I was proud that I'd struggled my way through it. Because I'd been so sick for the previous few years, I hadn't done much creative writing. Thus, the story was a bit of a creative rebirth for me, just as it is for one of my characters.

Along with connecting with care for the story and characters, I discovered the piece was way too long for the anthology for which it was intended. So I cut and cut and cut, and I emailed Alison about whether she had room for a longer piece. It turned out that she was now looking for even shorter stories than before, and I wasn't sure I wanted to pare down "River of Beauty" any further. I sent it to Alison to see what she thought. In reply, she asked me if she could use it for The Big Book of Bondage. I couldn't say "yes" fast enough!

Now, thanks to the generous folks at Cleis Press, I also have two copies of The Big Book of Bondage to give away! For a chance to win a copy here's what to do:
  • To be entered once in the drawing, comment on this post.
  • To be entered up to three more times, comment on any of the posts below. Each comment gets you an additional entry.
  1. My video/reading of "River of Beauty
  2. Sacchi Green's review of my story at Alison Tyler's blog 
  3. My review of Giselle Renarde's story in BBoB
  • Comments (entries) must be in by this Saturday, February 23 at 11:59 PM EST USA.
Please spread the word about this giveaway and share the link! I look forward to your comments!
- Sharon

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reading of "River of Beauty" with Fabulous Art! [NSFW Video]

I love giving readings. Recently, I took part in a reading here in Western Massachusetts. Organized by Jeremy Edwards, the reading ("Sexy Scribes Speaking") was in conjunction with the opening of a local art show, Triple S: Sensual, Sexy, Smut. The show was organized by Nina Rossi, the owner of Nina's Nook art gallery in Turner's Falls.

Because I've been dealing with a downturn in my health recently, I wasn't able to attend the reading n the flesh. However, thanks to the terrific creativity, talent, and dedication to inclusion of Nina Rossi and her partner Caleb Wetherbee, my voice was present.

Using slides from the show and my reading from "River of Beauty," Caleb created the gorgeous video below. It's a triple layer of sensual art: my voice, reading my story; the diverse paintings, drawings, and photographs of the visual artists; and instrumental classical music in the background. Due to language and some images, this video is NSFW. Please be 18 or older to watch it.

Enjoy! And please let me know what you think of the video -- below or on youtube -- I'm very curious. (Also, does my voice sound weird to you? A friend of mine who went to the reading didn't even recognize me!)

To read the rest of my story, pick up a copy of The Big Book of Bondage, edited by Alison Tyler. I highly recommend it! And not just because I'm in it. It's full of excellent writing. Literary erotic fiction has come so far in the last two decades! It just keeps getting better.

And now it just keeps getting better for you, too! I have two extra copies of The Big Book of Bondage, and Cleis Press has given me the green light to do a giveaway! Please stay tuned. I'll get a post up about that shortly.

Peace, Sharon

P.S. I have not yet been able to caption this video. I uploaded it to dotsub, but they deleted it. If I get this problem solved, I will post the captioned version at that time. Meanwhile, here is the transcript.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sex, Art, and Bondage: Review of My Latest Story

Cover of Big Book of Bondage, bold, striking, and clean. A light-skinned woman's right waist and hip, from about three-quarters up her thigh to one-third of the way up her rib cage. A black leather harness with an O-ring and silver buckles transects her waste and goes under her crotch. Black background behind her. The book title and author's name are all on her hip and thigh, below the harness.
My last post was a review of another contributor's story in The Big Book of Bondage. Today I had the honor and pleasure of having my own story reviewed by one of my favorite erotica writers, Sacchi Green. (Whom I previously interviewed here.)

Sacchi's review is on Alison Tyler's blog as part of the Big Book of Bondage Blog Tour. I'm grateful to Sacchi for the review in its entirety. But these two sentences were particularly squee-inducing for me:
Sharon’s fiction has a way of taking you places you’d never thought of going, and making you glad you did. 
The story itself is crafted by a true artist of the written word.
Come back here in a few days for my post up that will include a really awesome video featuring an excerpt from the story Sacchi reviewed. It's a multimedia piece that combines images of erotic art from a local gallery show with me reading the first part of "River of Beauty." The video's up now on Youtube, but I'm hoping to also caption it and post it on Dotsub, then post both versions here.

First, whet your appetite! Read Sacchi's review of my story here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Big Book of Bondage Blog Tour: Giselle Renarde

This cover is bold, striking, and clean. A light-skinned woman's right waist and hip, from about three-quarters up her thigh to one-third of the way up her rib cage. A black leather harness with an O-ring and silver buckles transects her waste and goes under her crotch. Black background behind her. The book title and author's name are all on her hip and thigh, below the harness.
Review of Giselle Renarde's story, "Double Dutch"

I'm thrilled to be a contributor to Alison Tyler's new anthology, the Big Book of Bondage: Sexy Tales of Erotic Restraint, published by Cleis Press. This book lives up to its title -- it's huge!

For this blog tour, Alison has asked each contributor to review a piece by another author. I got early dibs in choosing from the very impressive roster that includes some of my favorite erotica writers (such as D. L. King, Shanna Germain, and Alison Tyler, herself). Giselle Renarde's name in the Table of Contents caught my eye. I flipped right to her story. Although I enjoy good smut across genders, lesbian erotica makes my, um, heart swell. When I saw that "Double Dutch" had an all-female cast, I was sold.

Although Giselle has written scores of stories and a few books, it was when I read her story, "Blood Lust," in my contributor's copy of Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 that I truly became a fan. It haunted me with its perfect economy of language and utterly unique plot. I loved how she blended seemingly oppositional elements in a way that felt totally natural -- the fantastical with the real, the mysterious with the know-it-in-your-bones, the creepy with the homey. While the plot and characters in "Double Dutch" are very different from those in "Blood Lust," the writing has the same strong, distinctive voice and engaging characters.

The tension in "Double Dutch" starts with the word go. Actually, it starts with the first two words: "Damn, girl!" and draws the reader in with the lively language of four passionate teammates.
"Damn, girl!” Nakesha tore Jansey’s rope away. Hurling it to the ground, she stomped on it with the ball of her foot like she was crushing a cigarette. “How many times we been over this? It’s Crouger first, then into the Awesome Annie.” 
“I know, okay? I made a mistake.” Jansey bent to pick up her jump rope, but Nakesha’s foot wasn’t moving. In her peripheral vision, she noticed Ruby and Beatriz skulking at her sides.
I was also very curious about how a story that seemed to start out with four girls getting into an argument over a jump-rope game could possibly turn into erotica.* Well, it did! Given the book's title, you've probably figured out that the jump rope gets used for more than skipping.
Jansey was too shocked to react. They’d tied her arms behind her back? Why would her skipping team do that to her? . . . A dull ache began in her shoulders and bled down her back. As the other three girls took up their ropes, Jansey eased herself down on her knees. That was better—or, at least, the best she could hope for in such a strange circumstance. . .  
. When Nakesha turned on the boom box, the beat soared through the gymnasium floor, rocking Jansey’s calves. The music ran up through her thighs. It got right inside her spandex one-piece, vibrating inside her pelvis, making her instantly wet. Music could do that for her. That’s why she’d always been an easy lay at dances. The beat made her hot.
I don't want to spoil what comes next, but rest assured: this is not a simple girl-meets-girl/girl-gets-girl story. Jansey gets a lot more than that!

In addition to being sexy, "Double Dutch" brings a lot of sweetness and fun into the mix. The characters have a camaraderie that is infectious, carried in the fast beats of their dialogue and the familiarity of their clothes, their gear, and the space they inhabit. A deeper connection than you'd guess at the beginning is revealed in looks and touches and unfolding history.

I am making my way through the Big Book of Bondage and thoroughly enjoying the variety. Even so, Renarde's story has stuck with me. In fact, it even made me curious about competitive Double Dutch! Below are two (G-rated) videos of Double Dutch delights. These ladies -- and dudes -- are having so much fun, just watching them put a big silly grin on my face. What else can do that? Oh yeah, reading this book can.

Catch up with the other reviews in this blog tour at Alison Tyler's blog.

*It should go without saying, but just in case you're new to professional erotica: These characters are not girls. They're young women.

Click play and turn up the volume! You know what Jansey said about that beat....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The "Too Smart" Service Dog

Hi. As I explained on After Gadget, normally my service dog blogging (and related stuff) takes place over there. Except for today's post. I was going to post it at After Gadget, but it turns out it would violate WordPress TOS. So, I'm posting it here. Future Gadget- and Barnum-related posts will be back at After Gadget!

You asked so many great questions about my experiences as a service dog (SD) partner and trainer that it is taking quite some time for me to write all my answers. I am also still finishing Barnum's training. Until now I wanted to wait to train him to open the outside door to let himself out because I wanted to make sure he was really solid on having his door-opening behaviors under stimulus control (defined below). Which leads me to today's topic.

Two of you asked about my funniest or most embarrassing experience as a SD handler,* and -- especially considering that the idea for this post was inspired by support from www.wooddogcrate.com  -- I remembered a time I should have used a crate and about how my dog training skillz were not as groovy back then as I thought....

I've written in the past that Gadget was my heartdog, my perfect dog, and he was. But that doesn't mean he was actually a perfect dog! He was a reliable SD, and he liked to work, but he had his own agenda (as we all do).

When some people learn that I taught Gadget to open the refrigerator and other doors in the house -- including the door to the outside -- they picture chaos: a wagging stubby tail protruding from my open fridge while last night's leftovers are snorked down or Gadget opening and sauntering out the front door whenever he wanted. This is not what happened -- mostly. Why? Because the point of clicker training is to teach dogs to use their own minds to make the decisions you want. The more you train it, the more it works.

The behaviorist terminology for this is stimulus control, which basically means that the dog always does what you ask when you cue them and they don't do it when you don't cue them, etc. So Gadget only opened the fridge when I asked him to. For example, to get me a bottle of water. Likewise, he learned to let himself out to eliminate after I cued him to go out and not when I didn't . . . usually. And then there was this time which proved that I did not have stimulus control on door opening and that Gadget was thinking outside the, um, house.

A close-up of Gadget's face, turning to look over one shoulder, covered in a bright-orange vest. His muzzle is wet, his beard dripping water. His ears are cocked. In the background are blurry green leaves.
Summer of 2009 - Playing at the Pond
In the summer of 2009, Gadget was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma and feeling great. He had virtually no side effects from the treatment and was in remission. He was happy to keep working as my service dog.

I was undergoing treatment, too -- for Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. However, I had prioritized his healthcare above mine. Even though my doctor had wanted me to start daily intravenous antibiotics several months before, I waited until Gadget was in remission and his chemo schedule was bimonthly -- instead of weekly -- before I made the appointment.

To get daily infusions, I would need a PICC line. This is a little tube inserted into the artery in your biceps so you can get intravenous medication pumped directly into your bloodstream without needle sticks. Because I have such a complicated medical situation, I conducted research and anxiously weighed the pros and cons before deciding to make that appointment. By the time my mind was made up and Gadget was halfway through his chemo protocol, I just wanted to get the procedure over with and move on with my -- and Gadget's -- life.

Going to the hospital is always exhausting and stressful for me, and this procedure was no exception. I was nonverbal throughout, needed a sign language interprepter, and experienced some heavy-duty chemical exposures. Still, it basically went fine, and Betsy and I were glad to get back home. After my assistant helped me wash the hospital residues from my hair and skin, Gadget and I wandered outside, picking blackberries. He loved berries and would pick them right off the bushes.

Gadget steps among rocks and bushes to get at ground-vine blackberries. The picture shows him in profile, powerfully built, short gray peach-fuzz fur, and focused on his task.
Gadget picks blackberries off low bushes.
All was well . . . except that my PICC site was a bloody mess. I had to keep mopping it up while trying to reach past the thorns. (Note to self: Picking blackberries after minor surgery is a bad idea.) I came inside and called the visiting nurse association and was told that some bleeding was normal and that my nurse would clean it up when she changed the dressing the following day. So, fine.

By that night, however, my arm was red and swollen under the dressing. I wasn't particularly worried but Betsy was, and I started to "catch" some of her anxiety. Just as a precaution, I called the VNA again. They told me to call my doctor. Unfortunately, my doctor was away on vacation. Had she been there, she probably would have told me to wait to see what the nurse said in the morning. She doesn't panic unnecessarily. Instead, I called the covering physician, who did not know my case and whose first priority seemed to be that one of her colleague's patients didn't go septic on her watch! She told me to go to the ER right away and have the PICC line pulled and cultured in case it was infected. I really didn't want to do that! After everything I'd gone through to get it put in -- oy!

I didn't think it was infected. I didn't have symptoms of sepsis, and I didn't even know if it was possible for a line to get infected so soon after insertion. But the doctor was insistent, and Betsy was worried, and by now I was worried, too because I was brand-new to PICC lines, and septic shock is not something to mess with. Thus, I gathered my water, supplements, oxygen, medical information, etc., and prepared to go.

Normally when I went to the ER -- or anywhere -- I took Gadget with me. However, if I went to a toxic environment like a hospital, I would have to wash not just myself, but him. Since he was getting baths every time he went to the vet for chemo already, that was a lot of baths. Given how long and tiring this day was turning out, I didn't want to add giving Gadget yet another bath, too. Betsy could assist me, so we decided to leave Gadget at home.

Gadget really hated being left home by himself. For one thing, as my SD, he was used to going with me wherever I went. For another, even though it was much less severe than when I'd first adopted him, he did have some separation anxiety. However, at nine years old he had lots of training, much less separation anxiety, and excellent manners, so he only spent time in his crate to chew something messy (house rules).

If I'd been thinking clearly, I'd have remembered that, between my health problems and his, I was sometimes leaving Gadget inside when I went out, and his solution to this bad behavior on my part was to go looking for me -- by opening the door, letting himself out, and scenting me down. In other words, he was not waiting for the cue. He was thinking for himself, which is often a good thing in service dogs -- but not when you need behaviors under stimulus control!

If I'd been thinking clearly, I would have thought of this before we left. Unfortunately, I was exhausted, stressed, and in pain. My mind was on my arm and how I was going to convince the ER doctors not to pull out my PICC line. It was ten o'clock by the time I distractedly left Gadget with a marrow bone, turned on the outside light over the ramp, and Betsy loaded my powerchair into the van.

As we drove the dark, country roads on our half-hour drive to the hospital, I thought of Gadget at home with his bone. And then I smacked myself in the forehead. "Omigod!" I said to Betsy, "I bet Gadget has let himself out by now to look for me."

Betsy agreed this was likely. And if Gadget was outside in the warm August night the mosquitoes were likely swarming in through our open door. We were not keen on the idea of adding at least another forty minutes to our trip by turning around to deal with it. We considered our options.

Recently, our household had made two new purchases for which I was profoundly grateful that night. The first, most important option was a chain-link fence. This meant that Gadget would only be able to follow my scent to the gate. He wouldn't run into the road, get lost, get hit by a car, have a porcupine encounter, or any number of other disasters. Thank doG! He could, however, and likely would, start barking at the gate, calling for me, demanding my return. Since we'd probably be gone for hours (any trip to the ER is at least a three-hour proposition -- NOT including travel -- on a slow night), I really was not keen for my neighbors to hear him barking all night.

Our other recent acquisition was a cell phone. Because we live in a rural area with no cell towers, we never used the cell, but we had it for when Betsy was doing overnights at work. So, I turned on Betsy's cell phone and waited for a signal. When I got bars, I dialed information. I only knew the last names of our closest neighbors, a married couple who have different last names. I fervently hoped that they were listed. First I tried the woman's name -- no listing. Then I tried her husband and got a number. Hoping he was home, awake, and in a mood to go deal with my door-opening dog, I dialed his number.

"Hi," I said nervously when he picked up the phone. "This is Sharon-from-across-the-street? I'm sorry to call you so late at night. We're on our way to the hospital. We left in kind of a hurry. And I think it's possible that Gadget has opened the door and gone outside to look for me. He'll probably start barking soon. Would you mind going over and putting him in his crate -- whether or not he's outside? That way I won't worry. . . ."

My neighbor didn't ask how Gadget would be able to open the door or why I hadn't just put him in the crate before I left. He just said that he'd go over and take a look. I was so relieved. I would have liked a report, but we would soon be at the hospital where cell phones were not allowed, so we didn't ask him to call back.

The story of what happened in the ER is a tale worthy of its own post. I'll save that for another time. The most important part is that they did not remove my line. And the whole time, in the back of my mind -- when I was not dealing with doctors or nurses or administrative matters -- I wondered, "What happened with Gadget? Was he outside? Was he barking? Did my neighbor put him in the crate? What would we find when we got home?"

We drove home after midnight. I don't remember when. Probably one o'clock or two o'clock in the morning. The house was dark and quiet. There was no gray dog in the yard.

We came inside and found Gadget waiting quietly in his crate. On the counter was a note. It said something like, "Yep, he was outside and the door was open," with our neighbor's signature on the bottom. After that, when I went out, if I didn't take Gadget with me, I always put him in the crate (and gave him something to do, like chew on a knuckle bone or frozen Kong). You don't want to leave the door open for that kind of behavior more than once.

- Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SD/SDiT

P.S. Because we trained it from puppyhood, Barnum is my first dog to have no separation anxiety and to be 100 percent relaxed and happy in his crate. Can you tell?

Barnum inside his crate, lying in 'dead bug position,' asleep with his head thrown back, all his legs in the air, just letting it all hang out! He is lying on a tan puffy dog bed inside the crate, and there is a red Kong against his butt.
Barnum asleep in his crate.
*This is not my official answer to the questions raised by the Girl with the Cane blog. This story is just what floated into my head when the topics of "Gadget," "crates," and "funny" collided.