Friday, March 10, 2017

Why don't you? The appeal of Fifty Shades of Grey

“Why don’t you write something like Fifty Shades of Grey?”
We romance writers get asked this question by friends and family. I have to admit this question puzzles me. Each time I’m asked I wonder:
  • Do you mean, why don’t I write something about two people seeking love and connection?
  • Do you mean, why don’t I write something erotic?
  • Do you mean, why don’t I write something that pushes the boundaries of relationships?
I only wonder these things because me asking them aloud would draw attention to the fact that the person asking the question hasn’t read any of my books. Of course, I don’t care whether or not the person has read my stuff but …well, I don’t want to make things awkward by pointing that out. Besides, as a writer, here’s the question that makes the most sense to me:
  • Do you mean why don’t I write something that sells millions of copies and creates just as many devoted readers and fans?
That one I don’t have an answer for. Nobody does. Many--many--of us writers have tried to figure out why that series in particular took off like that.

In my other life, I teach freshman composition at a college. We write essays, the standard sort that college freshman have been writing for years. Thesis statements, MLA formatting, research. All the usual stuff. One place where I get to mix things up is in the prompts. So, wondering what my students think of the 50 phenomenon, I include a prompt about the widespread popularity of the series. The prompt encourages the students to question the contrast between the book’s content, the relationship between the two characters, and the current wave of new feminism. Bottom line--why do women connect this book?
As you might imagine, the prompt generates interest. After reading several essays I've found a distinct difference between the younger, 18-20, and older, 25-30 women in regard to Mr. Grey’s relationship appeal.

The younger women find him super romantic. They are drawn to the idea of having a man so dedicated to you that he is “interested” in every aspect of your life. They don’t find him stalky or boundary-crossing, they find him devoted. These younger women write very little about the sex; they write almost exclusively about the attentive relationship. It seems that while young women view career and societal contribution as essential and validating, they still long for a dedicated partner.
The older women write about the sex. They are drawn to the idea of an extremely intense almost completely sexual relationship that has no emotional commitments. These women reflect that while they hope to have an emotionally intimate relationship in the future, they are, at present, busy with school and work and don’t have time to develop “that sort of thing” right now. This staying-single-longer, waiting-for-real-commitment life plan is on the rise,  but as noted above with the younger set, this older set seeks devotion. They simply define devotion in a different way.

If you’re one of the thousands, maybe millions, of people who've had this conversation--why is 50 so compelling--I’d love to hear what you think. Give a shout in the comments.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bondage Rope Starter Guide: the busy woman’s cheat sheet on what to get to get what you want.

Thinking about buying some bondage rope? If you are, you won’t be alone this weekend.
First time thinking about buying rope? Again, you won’t be alone this weekend.
Headed to the hardware store because you want that rope - in - a - hurry?
Sounds good. But you may want to think about what’s going to work best for you ahead of time. You know, to avoid that awkward moment when the helpful salesperson asks you what type you want then, in attempt to assist you better, asks you what you want it for. See what I mean?
Think of fiber as the rope’s texture and appearance. It’s what the rope is made from, so fiber determines the look, texture, pliability, smell, and overall aesthetic. The four most common fibers used in bondage are hemp, jute, nylon and MFP.

Hemp Rope
Thanks to the fact that its natural, hemp offers great smell and texture. It’s soft but strong. It ‘breathes’ and bends, tucking itself into the contours of the body. The texture makes it easy to secure knots and this rope adjusts to varying tension levels.
Bonus, it has great old-school appeal, making it easy to imagine you’re being bound by a pirate or roped by a cowboy.
Notes on hemp:
  • it can be put through the washer but looses strength with each washing.
  • it looks wonderful in person but is hard to photograph.
  • its more expensive than the other commonly used roped.


Jute, the other natural choice, is nearly the opposite of hemp.
This fiber starts out very strong, sturdy and rough. This makes it a favorite of those who prefer edge in their rope play. That same firm texture makes it hold knots very well and photograph really well.
Bonus, this rope is light and so travels well. And yes, it also has that old school appeal of hemp.
Notes on jute:
  • it has enough grip to stay in place, but not as much as hemp. As a result, careful tensioning is required when using jute.
  • it can be tricky to wash and must be stretch dried to retain length.
  • it requires careful selection when purchasing. Be sure to ask about the weave, as loosely woven jute will not last very long.

Nylon and MFP (multi-fiber polypropylene)
These are manufactured, oil-based ropes, so cost quite a bit less than the natural alternatives. Because they are not natural, they maintain their round shape consistently and over a long period. They both wash easily and can be used in the water.
Something to consider, they don’t hold body heat. As a result, some users find these feel less natural and say they fell disconnected from these ropes.
Bonus, these fibers comes in many bright colors, are super shiny and photograph great.
Notes on nylon and MFP:
  • in regard to weight, they are about the same as jute.
  • they are very strong.
  • they can be tricky to use as they are slippery so tension can be difficult to control.

A good diameter to start with is between 4mm-8mm. 7mm and 8mm are frequently selected due to strength and comfort. Obviously, strength is very important when considering suspension. Also, the thicker ropes are easier on the skin and, as a result, are the better option for longer bondage sessions.
Thickness impacts rope stiffness and weight. Thicker ropes are more stiff. The stiffer the rope is, the less pliable it is. Therefore, knots and intricate patterns can be difficult. Thicker ropes are also heavier and, consequently, more difficult to transport.

In regard to length, consider what the rope will be used for, ie, simple wrist ties or full body suspension, and the size of the person being bound.  The North American standard is about 30 feet, with 15 foot spares. The Japanese have a more complicated system of deciding rope length, basing the decision on the measurements of the rigger. The idea is to use a length that the rigger can work with easily and fluidly. That measurement is typically between 23 and 27 feet with 12.5 foot spares.
Not buying any rope for yourself? No worries. In an effort to make this knowledge useful, take yourself to the opening of FIFTY this weekend, reread your tattered paperbacks, and check out what they use, see if you would have made the same selections.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What to do about Valentine’s Day?

Who truly loves Valentine’s Day? Who wakes up on February 14, sure that the entire day will be wonderful, romantic, and filled with happiness?

Not most of us. There are too many pit falls. Too many possibilities to feel emotions other than pure bliss. Like what, you ask?

Non-bliss emotions caused by gifts:
·        Disillusionment: No gift from your SO. (SO = significant other).
·        Irritation: Wrong gift from your SO. You clearly said you wanted sparkly jewelry. Not an itchy brown turtleneck sweater.
·        Exasperation: Last minute gift from your SO. The orange price tag from gas station ruins the moment.
·        Unworthiness: Much, much too nice gift from your SO. You expected a bag of Hersey Kisses and got a new BMW. Now what?
·        Puzzlement: Unidentified gift. You have two or more possible gifters. Who to thank?

Non-bliss emotions caused by your “status”:
·        Irritation: Not so subtle, prying questions from your well-meaning relatives who are older, wiser, and concerned about your ‘painful’ single status.
·        Annoyance: Not so subtle, prying questions from your well-meaning friends who are in new, sparkling, fresh relationships full of excitement and romance who are concerned about your boring, been-together-forever, couple status.

Non-bliss emotions by sex:
·        Ecstasy: Okay. This one isn’t a problem. But it is a possibility and so must be included here.
·        Weariness: After all that pressure about the gifts, your status, and where to eat and what-not, your just too wiped out for those extra steps to make it wild enough to lead to ecstasy.
·        Bewilderment: After a bottle and half of wine, your SO suddenly decides to try __________ (< insert anything you never talked about or even considered). You have no idea where to start and so spend all your energy trying to figure out what to do instead of relaxing and getting to the ecstasy.

See what I mean? It’s a wonder any of us make it through the day at all.

Because I like to leave people with a little something more, I’ll offer a link to this quiz, How Sexually Adventurous AreYou? It won’t help you avoid the above emotions, but it might make you laugh. And hell, if you ask me, laughter is an absolute necessity on Valentines Day.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Play for Keeps, two men, one woman, a secluded beach.

Which man really knows how to give her what she craves?

“On your way somewhere?”

Keera Koltai lifted her gaze from the nearly empty beer bottle wrapped in her fingers to connect with a pair of very liquid, very male eyes. Brown, with flecks of lighter tan about the same colour as the bare skin of his lean chest.

What was it with the guys around these islands? Didn’t any of them wear shirts?

At least, this one had a black tee tucked into the back pocket of his low hung jeans.

He spoke again, his southern Florida accent hanging heavy in the damp August air. “Where’d you ride from?”

“Up by Tampa.” Keera swallowed the last of her beer and rolled the empty bottle in her hands as she scanned the mostly empty roadside park. The only life enjoying the mangrove shaded crushed shell shoreline was a trio of stilts, wading along in the quiet tide. Over on the other side of the parking lot some parents dug through their van, sorting out gear while their kids jumped up, trying to touch the low needles of a slash pine.

When she looked back to the guy, he nodded, swinging himself around her bright yellow Buell and dropping onto the sandy grass where she’d stopped to stretch before continuing the last few miles to the isolated campground where she was headed. The day’s last rays of sun crossed over his chest, casting shadows over his long, lean legs. Tipping his head, he said, “Nice bike.”

The Buell was Keera’s only real possession, a symbol of some constant quest. Maybe a quest for freedom, maybe a quest for something else, she really didn’t know. The bike was such a personal part of herself, a part that even she didn’t understand, she rarely talked about it with anyone. So she simply nodded and said thanks.

He slanted her a grin and held out his hand. “I’m Samuel, off-duty fishing guide.”

Keera accepted the gesture, wrapping her fingers around his wide palm. Calloused skin rasped against her fingertips as he slowly pulled away in a release so gradual it was a sensual promise. A warm sliver of awareness slipped through her, and she found herself taking an appraising look at his leanly muscled chest and flat stomach.

He noticed her stare and angled back onto his elbows, strands of his shaggy black hair catching in the evening breeze. “I was fishing the rivers that come off White Water Bay the past couple days, now I’m headed up Tamiami Trail to hang out with some friends, then, you know, whatever.”



Keera knew where the conversation was headed.

To hook up or not to hook up.

It was the scenario she’d heard her customers at Fantasies Inc. recount over and over, mostly on Wednesdays when they stopped in to take advantage of the Hot Hump Day specials as they stocked up for the upcoming weekend. She loved hearing their lusty stories about frisky one night stands and leisurely afternoons spent with long-time lovers but lately as she’d listened to the tales she’d started to wonder if there was something wrong with her.

Like now, for example. Here she was with a sexy, easy-going hottie with rough hands that could probably deliver on some sigh worthy stories for when she got back to work but she didn’t feel...enough.

Shouldn’t she be panting? Or feeling all hot and melty? Shouldn’t she be fantasising about all the things this guy could do to her—or what she could do to him?

“So how about it? You up for something?”

An inner voice shouted, this is exactly the sort of thing you need.

An opportunity to jump start her sex dive. But she hesitated. She had no reason not to hook up with him for a night or two—but she couldn’t find a reason to want to.

Think sex, Keera. Want it. Feel it.