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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:

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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:

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(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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

Guest Post: Sheryl Collins (Under the Mistletoe–All I want for Christmas is Sex)

Sheryl Collins

Sheryl Collins

A present Texans at this moment.  A single mother of  a college student who has retired from her present place in the workforce pursing her long life dream. One of those dreams was to be a songwriter and author.  Sheryl had a long journey to finally Under the Mistole which includes from high school creative writing class to being honorable mention in  college creative magazine at the city state college. Sheryl has many short stories submission that did not make the cut for publishers on Wattpad.com. She also completed a YA book with some help and influence from her daughter which is now found on Wattapad.

“ Life influences me. Many people ask life? Every person I  meet can become a story and every experience can be a song. I have wrote lyrics to poetry since I was a little girl as a journal. It was therapy for my soul, a person ticket out of Texas to anywhere I wanted to go. My family influences me a tons. Great list of writers which maybe an endless list. I always felt that I could never be good enough for this stuff . I wrote and no one would understand me. I was a bunch of nonsense written on a page. If getting one book recognized by a great number or one song that can be heard on the radio, I know that it was not trash at all.” reply Sheryl.

Sheryl writes everywhere. That includes her car, at work in past, on vacation, fishing, in church etc. “You never know where a great story or song will hit you. I find myself sometime driving singing. I dreamed of singing in my sleep and waking up trying to remember.” laughs Sheryl.

Sheryl next project is finishing up one or a few children songs for a EP. She might also do a pop or blues EP. Sheryl next book at the moment is for her children EP called “ Clueless Sucks.“ A song she is working on for a merch. “My previous work with some help from my daughter being a teen, did not get the passion I wished to see from YA crowd. Did I expect a publisher yes but I will not say millions. I wanted to draw young people and artists to writing in story and music.” she add.

“ I am a jumper. I never know will I sit one a side and start doing another project. Who I might pick up? While I was working on Love Story EP and fabric design, I was trying to create a beat than a song came out.  I found myself back at a project for middle readers for children story that encourage music. Erotic writing at this moment I don’t know since I put down my patterns and sewing thing for gowns. The big break for an short story or stories did not happen. I have a goal to at least have a thousands of fans around the world who enjoy my creativity.”

Guest Post: Maria Duendí (Under the Mistletoe–Hush)

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I hate New York City. I have lived here for nearly eight years and I have never gotten into the cutesy “love/hate” stage most people do after a while. I hate it. I hate the smell (in the words of Han Solo, “What an incredible smell you’ve discovered!” Every day. Many times a day). I hate the lines of people that could rival Soviet Russia’s (sometimes I stand in a line just so I don’t possibly miss something.). I went to a Wegman’s in Pennsylvania, near Penn State, and I forgot to get something before I got in line. “Take your time, honey,” the cashier said. Take. Your. Time.

What I especially hate about New York, however, is the noise. Right now, there is construction being done on a new luxury building on our block (thanks, gentrification!), and we are being assailed with beeps, grinding, knocking, yelling. At night, the cement mixer sounds like it’s fucking. More power to you, man

 

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One evening, my husband and I came home close to midnight. I stepped out of the car, and I felt the ambient noise vibrate through my body. There was a whooshing sound—-the sound of cars getting off and on the FDR drive. There was a general growl from the electricity running in so many homes. Panic hit me at the back of my throat. “It’s never going to stop, is it?” I asked my husband. Day and night, the machine ground on.

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My husband is a city boy, so of course he told me I was exaggerating. “Everywhere is like this,” he said. But I remembered sleeping out in the desert when I was 20 years old, nothing but clear, dark, sapphire sky, the sound of the wind brushing the trees like a thin film over it. Even in a more populated area like State College, most people’s concerns are not about how kinky the construction equipment gets. There are escapes out there—-soothing oases to clear your head, to change your mind.

“Hush” stemmed from my fear of noise going on in perpetuity—-the grinding, growling, crackling noise of the city amplified by a mysterious force. The residents of the city in the story have no escape—-they’ve been hemmed into the city and they have a curfew. The only conduit to escape is a boy who really, really likes a girl, and we can’t (and wouldn’t!) blame the girl for accepting his invitation.

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 “Where are we going?” I asked, when it was quiet enough for him to hear my words. I added, “Do you know?”

He turned to me, shocked and amused, as if he had been alone and he had only been driving with his beer and my thighs holding it. “Yeah,” he said. “I know a place.” It was the first time I had heard his voice—deep and gravelly.

“Why aren’t you already there, then?”

A foolish grin came across his face. “Uh, travel ban?”

I laughed. “You broke that without thinking. How did you—”

“You wanted to go, right? Away from the Noise?”

I breathed in. The Noise lingered, but I could feel relief from it through the cold window. The man opened the window and there was an admirable silence. I breathed it in and out and my tongue was no longer unhinged. I let out a big whoop—a blade of sound piercing a soap bubble. The man chuckled to himself—at the twinkling of quiet stars, at me.

We stopped just a few blocks down from a stoplight—quiet blocks with shabbily genteel shrubs in front, a porch swing here or there. We approached the most run down of them. The wood of the porch had not been repainted in a long time—patches of brown and wincing tan peeked through the gray. There was a porch that was low to the ground and a balustrade wrapped around it.

The man reached over me to open my door to the car. I inhaled his clean scent, his body hovering me warm compared to the cold outside.

“Why me?” I asked, in his shadow.

He opened the door and removed the bottle from between my thighs, his eyes suddenly looking into mine. “Because you said yes.”

 

About Maria Duendi:

Maria Duendi resides in the New York City. She enjoys an almost obscene obsession with perfume and an addiction to Star Trek: Deep Space 9. This is her first publication.

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Call for Submissions—Positively Sexy (extended deadline!)

Coming Together: Positively Sexy is a collection of erotica focused on characters living and loving while STI-positive, edited by Annabeth Leong. Proceeds benefit the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, a sexuality education and training organization that works to reduce sexual shame, challenge misinformation, and advance the field of sexuality.

Submissions Close July 31, 2016 October 1, 2016

Submission Call
Ever notice that sex ed classes tend to focus on how to prevent STIs, but don’t say much about living with them and having a sex life after an STI diagnosis? Erotica, on the other hand, is often written as if STIs don’t exist at all.
For this anthology, I’m looking for short erotica and erotic romance about characters who have STIs.

I would like to see a range of experiences represented. Give me characters just opening themselves up to sexuality post-diagnosis, characters for whom disclosure and safer sex practices are a routine side note to whatever sexual fun they’re getting up to, characters who deal with STIs by fetishizing them (see bug chasing and gift giving), and more. I will be accepting stories with an eye toward representing many types of STIs and experiences with them. Stories must be fictional.

It’s a major priority for me to include stories about people of a variety of orientations, body types, races, genders, ages, abilities, etc. I’m very interested in stories that engage with stigmas around STIs, but I’m absolutely not interested in stories that perpetuate those stigmas. I’m interested in the realities of sexuality, and it is fine for characters to have backgrounds that include unsafe behavior/murky consent/etc. In the present of your story, however, I want to see characters who are responsible with themselves and their partners. Please use medically accurate information where relevant. Please don’t be preachy or shaming.

All sexualities and gender expressions are welcome. Kink is welcome. I prefer contemporary settings for this anthology. For historical settings or science fiction/fantasy, please query first.

Submission Guidelines
Stories between 3,000 and 7,500 words are preferred. I will consider shorter stories or stories as long as 10,000 words if I find them truly exceptional.
Coming Together contracts non-exclusive rights to publish, so previously published work is fine, as long as you own the rights to the work you submit. Stories over 5,000 words may be released individually through Coming Together as well, with the sales proceeds benefiting the CSPH.
Please use RTF, DOC, or DOCX format when submitting a manuscript. Include your legal name, pen name, and a working email address at the top of the document. Do not paste your story into the body of your message.

Please use Times New Roman font, size 12, and one-inch margins. Double-space paragraphs and set indentations to .3 – Do not use tabs or spaces to indent.

Please do not submit poetry or memoir.

Direct all submissions to positivelybook@outlook.com and CC submissions@the-erotic-cocktail.com.

Include “Coming Together Positively Sexy Submission” in the header of your e-mail. In your e-mail message, include a two-line blurb for your story (to help with promotion if your story is accepted), and a short biography, no more than 150 words, including your website/blog/social media links if applicable. Please also indicate if your story has been previously published.

Feel free to query if your submission is not acknowledged within 72 hours.

Coming Together is a non-profit organization, and all CT authors and editors have generously donated their talents to various causes. Compensation for inclusion in this work is a PDF contributor copy of the finished product and the satisfaction of knowing you are helping an amazing organization that is working to reduce sexual shame.

Signs that you’ve read the guidelines make me ❤ you. Thanks so much for being interested in this anthology.

Questions? EMail: submissions@the-erotic-cocktail.com