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Guest Post: Malin James on Stereotypes, Identity and Roadhouse Blues

Today I get to host the lovely Malin James. Malin’s writing style has always made me a bit weak in the knees. She can convey more power and sex in 5 words in a minimalist, gorgeous voice. Her story The Green Lady was one of my favorites in Under the Mistletoe. Today she’s here to talk about her new book Roadhouse Blues.

First of all, thank you for having me, Delilah. It’s wonderful to be here.

One of the most unexpected things about promoting Roadhouse Blues is keeping track of what I talk about, when and with whom. Between interviews, conversations, emails, social media and posts, I have the constant, nagging worry that I’ve already said whatever it is that I’m going to say. One thing does seem to keep coming up though, so I figured it was worth going into in a little more depth.

One of the best pieces of feedback Roadhouse Blues has gotten so far is that it subverts certain stereotypes. My writing process is pretty organic, so I rarely go into a project with a specific mission in mind. That said, there was something that I knew I wanted to do very early on—I wanted the stories to be about characters whose inner lives don’t necessarily match their outward appearances.

I’ve already talked a bit about the fact that Styx, the town the collection is set in, creates an external pressure that binds the stories together. It’s a socially conservative place in the middle of nowhere—the kind of place where it’s often easier to just do what’s expected of you. It’s the kind of community that is so small that the consequences of challenging the status quo can be huge. So, with a few major exceptions, most of the characters don’t openly challenge it…but that doesn’t mean that they privately conform.

That’s where I go Joe, the good ol’ boy mechanic whose marriage is quietly and lovingly non-monogamous; and Liz, his boss and long term lover; and Luke, the high school football star turned diner owner who plays his private life extremely close to the vest; and Maybelline, the stripper whose relationship to sex is complicated and deeply internalized, despite the fact that it’s her job to perform an exaggerated portrait of female sexuality. In fact, that notion of performance is at the center of it all—how do we identify, and do we choose to perform that identity or keep it hidden?

That’s where stereotypes get interesting. For some characters, like Liz in “Down & Dirty”, stereotypes are a burden—something she actively chooses to defy. She owns a garage at a time when women don’t even pump gas, and she takes a deep, carnal pleasure in her body’s raw strength. She takes the stereotypical idea of what it is to be feminine, balls it up and eats it for lunch without ever compromising the complexity of her identity and sexual needs.

Other characters, like Luke in “Truck Stop”, use stereotypes like a mask. Of all the characters in the book, Luke is the one who is most conscious of the bifurcation between his public image and his private life. Because of that, he deliberately plays up the stereotype of the ex-athlete, business owning, pillar-of-the-community to shield aspects of himself, specifically that he is a gay black man in a “shit-kicking Christian town”.

Unfortunately, choosing to remain closeted is nothing new, especially since the reality is that being openly gay is still dangerous in parts of this (and other) countries. Given where he lives, Luke is instinctively aware of the danger that his sexuality could put him in, so he chooses to remain closeted…but not so deeply closeted that he doesn’t know himself.

There’s nothing delusional or stereotypically tortured about Luke’s relationship to his own sexuality. He owns his attraction to men. He’s at ease with the fact that he’s had gay sex, and that he misses it. He misses that part of himself. And yet, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what acting on it could cost him, so, unlike Liz, he uses a stereotype to protect himself. But that doesn’t mean that he owns his identity any less than Liz. He just owns it privately, which is why, every now and then, he allows himself to indulge. That’s what “Truck Stop” is about—Luke setting aside the safety of the stereotype to engage in truly hot, authentic sex with another man.

I’m not trying to imply that stereotypes can’t be dangerous, because they can, especially when we don’t question them. Stereotypes are why we have hate crimes, misogyny, profiling and pretty much every cultural phobia you can think of. Stereotypes are the illusion that we have even the first clue about a person based on how they look, and they are very often wrong.

And yet, stereotypes persist, and because they persist, they pose an even more insidious threat, because if a person buys into the stereotype that describes them, it can flatten the glorious individuality that is every person’s right, and twist them away from their far more complicated, authentic self. Self-awareness is the answer to that—self-awareness and autonomous self-ownership, regardless of how a person defies, or uses, any given stereotype.

That’s why I wanted my characters to move seamlessly through the world they live in, while remaining aware of, and faithful to, their private realities. Sometimes, that reality manifests internally, as it does for Maybelline in “Marlboro Man”. Sometimes it’s flagrantly displayed, like it is for Liz. And sometimes it lands on a halfway point between the two, and that’s where Luke sits.

Stereotypes, identity, performance, authenticity. These are some of the basic human factors we all confront as we find our way in the world. If there’s one thing I’m proud of in this collection, it’s letting my characters navigate what the people around them think and expect, and then decide for themselves how they want to respond.

And now, here’s a snippet from Luke’s story, “Truck Stop”.

Excerpt:

Luke didn’t really think he’d see Jim again. Between the fluster and the blushing and the chemistry, it was pretty damn clear that trucker Jim was into guys. It was also pretty damn clear that he didn’t know what to do about it. Once upon a time, Luke had been the same. All red-faced awkwardness and bright, shiny eyes. He knew how rough it could be. Sometimes moving on was easier. At least, that’s what he’d told himself.

Luke spent the rest of the afternoon taking orders and fixing food. Jack was off his game, over-salting chili and under-cooking fries. Too many doubles, Luke figured. He’d have to make him cut back, but, in the meantime, it kept Luke busy, which helped him forget about sexy, bright-eyed truckers. He did a fine job too…until Jim came back a few minutes before close.

“Hey,” Jim said, shoving his hands in his pockets. He looked like a sheepish kid. “Ran out pretty fast this afternoon. Sorry about that.”

“No worries,” Luke said, ignoring everything south of his hips. “Here. I owe you some change.”

Luke opened the register, but Jim shook his head. “No, keep it. Call it a tip.”

“Okay….” Luke slipped the money back and quietly shut the till. “So, what brings you back?” His voice felt strong and deep in his chest, like all of him was there. That should’ve worried him, but the worry didn’t make it through the good.

Jim took a deep breath, like people do when they’re going to be brave or very stupid. “I came back to see you.”

He took off his hat, a gentleman come a-courtin’ with rumpled hair, like he’d just rolled out of bed. Luke’s pulse jumped. He was standing in a room with a fine-looking man, and the room was full of windows. Anyone could see.

Luke cleared his throat. “How about some pie?”

Their eyes met. Thick, caramel silence.

“Yeah,” Jim said. “I’d like some pie.”

Luke flipped the closed sign and locked the door. It was pretty goddamn clear they weren’t talking about pie. His hands shook as he lowered the blinds. He never lowered the blinds. He was too wary of being set up. Trucker comes in, makes sexy eyes…next thing you know, you’re getting punched in the head. Jim could be fucking with him, or trying to steal his till, or just looking to bash gay guys in the act of being gay, but Luke didn’t think so—not with the way he ran out and came back. Luke didn’t think so, and he was willing to take the risk.

By the time he got back to the counter, Jim had taken off his jacket and was sitting at the counter, tight and sharp as a wire. Luke got the coffee pot and brought over a mug. Jim touched his hand.

“Better not,” he said and smiled. “Haven’t been lucky with coffee.” His hand stayed on Luke’s, pale and rough, clean beneath the nails, as his eyes filled with a soft, silent pleading. Luke thought about all the good, wholesome, down-home sex he never got to have, and the last of his caution slip away. He leaned in, drawn by those pretty, pleading eyes, but Jim got there first.

Jim kissed him, hard on the mouth, like he making an important point. Luke stiffened—not turned off, just surprised—but Jim hesitated and started to pull away. Luke put his hands on the other man’s back and pulled him back in. They didn’t talk. They barely breathed. They mauled each other right out of words and the mind to speak.

Jim dropped to his knees. Luke tried to pull him up, but the younger man stopped him with those big, bright eyes full of let me and please. Luke let him go and leaned back against the counter. Jim unbuckled his belt like a kid on Christmas day. He had no idea if the guy had even seen another man’s dick, but there was something sweet about finding out.

 

Author Bio:

Malin James is an essayist, blogger, and short story writer. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Bust, MUTHA, Queen Mob’s Tea House and Medium, as well as in podcasts and anthologies for Cleis Press, Sweetmeats Press and Stupid Fish Productions. Her first collection, Roadhouse Blues, is now out with Go Deeper Press. Find out more at malinjames.com.

Buy Links:

 

Guest Blog: Horatio Slice by Oleander Plume

I’m so happy to welcome one of my favorite author people to Delilah Night—Oleander Plume!  Oleander edited on my all-time favorite anthologies, Chemical [Se]X, also known as the book that almost me orgasm on an escalator. TLDR– I thought I was too cool and jaded by my own genre that I could read it without consequence in public. I was wrong. She has a new book out–Horatio Slice–which I can’t wait to read (in private).

 

A big thank you to Delilah Night for letting me pay a visit to her blog today! I’m here today to celebrate the release of my first full-length novel, Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe.

Someone asked me the other day “How did you come up with this book?”

That’s not an easy question to answer. I think we writers are influenced by an infinite number of things. Sometimes, an idea will fall right into our lap. At other times, story fodder is an elusive beast, a shy creature we must coax into our proximity with gentle words or perhaps a snack.

Horatio actually did fall right into my lap. What inspired it? An imaginative submission call I found on the Erotic Readers and Writers Association website.

Besides that siren song of a prompt, this book was inspired by the British comedy I watched as a teen. By every concert I’ve ever attended. By books, and movies, and even the Sunday comics. Inspiration, it seems, is everywhere, but even the most inspired erotic writer sometimes hits a brick wall.

How then, do we find inspiration again? My favorite way is with a word association game.

Using a pen and paper, jot down anything that pops into your head. Does it have to be sexy? No. The sexy comes later. For now, let’s find a starting point. I will now type the first words that pop into my head:

Classic cars, celery, elephants, new shoes, hunger, wine, tasting … wine tasting.

Wine tasting stands out for me. Let’s use a wine tasting as the backdrop for our story. Now, we need to add the players. Of the remaining words, “new shoes” sounds fun.

Let’s say our first character is wearing new shoes. How do they make the character feel?

Flirty, uncomfortable, wobbly, taller … do you see how this opens up the imagination? My first inclination was a female character wearing new high heels that hurt her feet, so she is keeping herself planted firmly in a chair. While planted, she spots a handsome character across the room.

Considering she can’t move, how will she attract this person’s attention? I’ll bet you’ve already come up with at least three interesting ideas!

Feeling creative? Would you like to win an e-book? Using the comments below, tell me how you would bring these two characters together. Feel free to keep it as brief or verbose as you would like. The one Delilah and I like best will win a digital copy of Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe.

Winner will be chosen on August 14, 2017. Good luck, and happy writing!

 

Horatio Slice is NOT dead.

Gunner Wilkes knows a secret. Heartthrob rock star Horatio Slice is not dead. Sure, Gunner may turn heads with his big brain, good looks, and gym-built body, but his mind is on one thing only: returning his all-time favorite rocker and secret fanboy crush to Earth.

Yes, there are VAMPIRE PIRATES

Fame and stardom were starting to wear thin for Horatio Slice, but when he was sucked through a magical portal while on stage at Madison Square Garden into a jail cell in a strange dimension called Merona, his confusion quickly cleared upon meeting his sexy, dark-haired cellmate, a vampire pirate named Snake Vinter, who filled Horatio in about life in the universe, jumping from dimension to dimension, and craftily avoiding the wrath of gnarly-mask-wearing leather queen King Meridian—a guy nobody wants to cross.

The metal ship is named Frances.

And on Snake’s metal ship live eight identical blond Humerians, who proudly display their cocks and assholes in carefully crafted trousers, as well as a wild assortment of untamable, cock-hungry travelers and stowaways. But someone has hacked into Frances’ mainframe, demanding that Snake and crew deliver Horatio Slice to King Meridian, or feel his wrath.

All the zany magical comedy of Mel Brooks, an adventure not dissimilar to Indiana Jones meets Barbarella, and men, men, horny men, of all shapes and sizes, Horatio Slice, Guitar Slayer of the Universe is wild, fun, pornographic fiction for anyone who loves the masculine, the feminine, and all identities in between. Even more so, it’s for cravers—for aficionados—of big, hard, pounding cock, and anyone who can handle laughs that won’t stop coming.

 

Oleander Plume lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband, two daughters and a pair of obnoxious cats. While she writes in many genres, her favorite is m/m. Or m/m/m. Or m/m/m/m, or … who’s counting, anyway?

Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe (published by Go Deeper Press) is Oleander’s first, full-length novel, but her short stories have appeared in anthologies by Violet Blue, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Shane Allison, Alison Tyler, Neil Plakcy, and F. Leonora Solomon.

Oleander also edited a self-published erotic anthology, titled Chemical [se]X, featuring stories centered around the theme of aphrodisiac chocolates.

For more information, please visit her at poisonpendirtymind.com.

Blog: http://poisonpendirtymind.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Oleander-Plume/e/B00OALVFGS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1500393524&sr=8-2

Go Deeper Press media page: http://godeeperpress.com/media-page-horatio-slice/

Go Deeper Press shopify: https://go-deeper-press.myshopify.com/products/horatio-slice-guitar-slayer-of-the-universe

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OleanderPlume

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OleanderPlumeAuthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/OleanderPlume/boards/

Horatio on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35558974-horatio-slice

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-56xGmu27g

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If Mom’s Happy

In the midst of my unpacking/end of school year haze, I forgot to announce a book. So, embarrassingly late, I want to share that my story Renewal has been reprinted in If Mom’s Happy.

If Mom’s Happy: Stories of Erotic Mothers

This anthology shows that mothers love hot sex, too.

What happens when the mom in the mirror is a stranger to the woman inside?  How do you reconnect with the man behind the dad?

Read an excerpt from an updated reprint of Renewal here

Guest Post: Corbin Grace (Under the Mistletoe Author)

Today we welcome Corbin Grace, author of one of my favorite poems in Under the Mistletoe–Frosty.

Let me tell you about how I came to love my lizard. This isn’t a story about reptiles. It’s about craft. It has to do self-perception and creation.

I’m a dabbler. I have a lot of interests: photography; drawing; writing; painting; photo retouching and creating book covers. I have an intense focus but it flits from interest to interest, emptying my wallet but filling my days.

So yeah, back to the lizard.

My wife and I have taken a number of metalsmithing courses: specifically making jewelry from copper, silver and titanium. In one class, we learned the process of etching copper in a salt water solution. I don’t want pretend I’m Mr. Science, and I certainly don’t want to scare you into desperately clicking on the exit button. Basically, the process involves photocopying a black and white design onto a sheet of acetate. Then an iron is used to transfer the image from the acetate onto sheet copper.  Trying not to get electrocuted, you run an electric current through the salt water. The bare copper gets slowly eaten away while the parts covered in black, a resist, remain unchanged. After I’d etched the pattern onto the copper, making certain parts raised while others were recessed, I cut out the shape of the gecko that I had used as my image.

Then, I used another process: enameling. I covered my jewelry piece with green powdered glass which I melted at very hot temperature in a kiln. The melted glass coated the copper. Next, I used a girding stone over the entire jewelry piece. The raised parts returned to bare copper, the recessed parts retained the green color. Then, as a last step, I melted a second layer of clear enamel to seal the piece, preventing tarnishing and protecting the skin of those who might have a copper allergy.

Here’s the finished lizard:

SONY DSC

I’ve struggled for years—and to tell the truth, it’s been decades—with depression and anxiety. When I make jewelry, or engage in any of my hobbies, I focus on entirely on the process. I forget all else for a time. It’s almost magical.

But then, the difficult part: Am I happy with what I’ve created. Do others like it? With my lizard, I wasn’t happy. It looked okay, but I hated the shade of green. But everyone else in the class loved my piece, as did others I showed it to. Many said that it was their favorite of all my jewelry pieces. I got over myself and learned to love it.

So in the end, what lesson did I learn? That I’m too self-critical? Or that I value my work on how well or poorly it’s received? Maybe the lesson is that I should leave the “terrible lizards” to Michael Crichton (RIP), who made a mint off of them.

In any event, as I’d mentioned, I also enjoy writing. I have my first published poem in the new Christmas charity anthology: Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe. It’s available in print and eBook formats. I hope that you’ll support the charity Project Linus by purchasing it.

As for my contribution, I like a poem with a bit of humor, and that’s what I deliver in Under the Mistletoe. Here—to give you an idea of my sense of humor—is a little rhyme of mine:

The Riddle by Corbin A. Grace ©2016

Oh Elfin maiden! lithe and fair,

Let not my riddle cause despair:

 

A giant’s handful, all aflame,

The tip is warm, the shaft the same.

‘Tis used in darkest cavern deep,

In blackest night, whilst others sleep.

 

“A torch,” my lord, “to light the way;”

He doffed his pants: “Sweet lady, nay”

 

So what’s next for me? I’ve just learned that a short story of mine has been accepted for publication. I’m also revising a vampire/detective hybrid called Gunmetal Grey Sky that I’ve designed a cover for:

gunmetal

(The crime scene tape portion of the image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license by Tex Texin)

I hope that everyone has a great holiday season. Merry Christmas!

– Corbin

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Popping my podcast cherry!

I love podcasts. I listen to West Wing Weekly, Stuff you missed in History Class, This American Life, 2 Dope Queens, and a variety of nerdy podcasts including my favorite–Agents of HELM.

Much as I love listening to podcasts, I’ve never done one. So I was so excited when the Agents offered to pop my cherry in a lust themed episode.

handcuffsHow great is this picture?

In latest installment of Johanna’s “Seven Deadly Sins” series, the Agents and special guest erotica author Delilah Night talk all things lust. We break down our favorite sex scenes and euphemisms (Slytherin in the…what?), and Delilah talks about all things erotica, including some exciting projects on the way. Be sure to check out the erotica anthology “Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe”, available now on Amazon, as well as “Capturing the Moment,” Delilah’s solo work. You can also find her at www.delilahnight.com

You can listen to the podcast at the linked page, or you can download it on itunes.

Guest Post: Sonni deSoto (Under the Mistletoe–Tugging Reins)

Have Yourself a Kinky, Little Christmas!

under-the-mistletoe

I love holiday stories. From The Grinch Who Stole Christmas to the corny Hallmark made-for-TV movies, nothing feels more like the season than when every story you see comes complete with jingle bells and snow. Every story seems filled to the brim with love and endless miracles. Those stories, sappy or corny or mushy as they are, seem to showcase the best of the world. In a culture obsessed with the grittiness of stories that tell you how it is, they are shining beacons of what could be.

And, I think particularly for kinky people, Christmas just lends itself to really fun encounters. From being obsessed with getting our hands on the latest, greatest toys to, as my story “Tugging Reins” explores, all the fun pervertable toys that can be made out of the many, omnipresent yuletide decorations, there’s just unlimited merriment to be had for a kinkster with a creative mind. From tinsel whips to jingling restraints, Christmas really knows how to dress-up a scene! I defy you read my story and look at an oversized candy cane decoration the same again. Can’t be done.

photo-21

This time of year makes everything feel wondrous and possible and can’t help but inspire the undeniably seasonal wish to get what you really want. So often, we’re afraid to ask for or go for the things we desire. We worry about what people will think or how it’ll change our lives or even fear that we don’t deserve our own desires. I wanted my characters, Chris and Danielle, to embrace their own personal Christmas miracle of turning what seems like impossible fantasy into a sexy-as-hell reality.

Especially, with BDSM, it often seems daunting to make our kinky dreams come true—we can’t all expect suave, broody billionaires under our trees. But there are definitely safe, sane, and consensual ways to explore hidden desires that feel possible and fun. When you’re just starting out, it can feel awkward trying to navigate a way into this world. There are so many rules and norms that people in the community just seem to know. Made worse by the fact that, outside the pages of books and in reality, the kink community tends to attract…well, the nerds of the world. The overthinkers and the often socially odd; how is it that so many of our fictional stories are executed flawlessly? We’re normal people; we make missteps and mistakes. We say the wrong thing and doubt ourselves. Yet our stories rarely get to explore the often awkward yet exciting learning curve; I wanted to give those highs and lows a voice.

And, even in this post-Fifty Shades world, I think there’s still the misconception that kink and heart-warming, Hallmark-esque romance can’t go together. I wanted to show that they definitely can. That, sure, BDSM can be broody and lush, but it can also be sweet and fun and quirky, even on a low-budget; after all, we call it play for a reason. I wanted to write a story that would take all that tinsel and bells and holiday cheer and invite my characters—and my readers—to, well, play.

Sonni deSoto

If you enjoy “Tugging Reins,” please check out my story “Make Me Believe,” which also features Chris and Danielle, in The First Annual Geeky Kink Anthology. To find more about my novels, anthologies, and general thoughts on all things romance, sex, and kink, please visit my website sonnidesoto.blogspot.com.

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

 

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Release Day–Under the Mistletoe!

Happy Release Day!

under-the-mistletoe

 

Today marks the publication of Coming Together Under the Mistletoe! I’m over at Delilah Devlin’s page talking about the inspiration for the anthology, Project Linus, and sharing one of my favorite poems from the anthology–Frosty by Corbin Grace.

With my daughter’s permission, I’m also sharing a picture of her. She knows about the anthology, that all proceeds go to Project Linus, and that it’s for grownups. This was my very sick as a baby but today healthy daughter, Turtle. (obviously not her real name)

Turtle
If you’d like a chance to win a free pdf of Under the Mistletoe, go check out my post on Delilah Devlin’s blog.