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

Totally Bound/Pride Publishing are now on sale at WH Smith stores in the UK!

As a Totally Bound author, I’m so excited to announce that some Totally Bound and Pride Publishing titles will be on sale at WH Smith stores in the UK!

The first forty titles includes Darkening by Ashe Barker, who guest posted about her series on my blog. Congratulations!

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To celebrate the new partnership, WH Smith is running a content where you can win all forty titles! Click here to enter.

Submission Calls (3 anthologies)

Jayhenge Publishing has open submission calls for three anthologies.

 

Steampunk

Due to high demand, we are putting together a steampunk-themed anthology. We’re looking for more than just the goggles-and-gears accoutrements of what we think of as steampunk. The era of the steam engine affected much more than Victorian England, so let yourself be inspired by everything the new and amazing inventions might have touched, from the stratified class systems to the various places colonized, and then allow your imaginations to soar into worlds beyond our own.

Unearthly Sleuths

Crime solving becomes extraordinary when the rules of Planet Earth as we know it don’t apply. If your detective is seeking out clues in distant galaxies or preternatural realms, send us your stories!

Myths, Monsters, Mutations

Who lurks in the dark? What’s that sound? We’re looking for your accounts of dark myths, horror and the macabre to delight and frighten!

None of these anthologies is erotica, but Jessica tells me an erotica anthology is on the horizon. I can tell you from first-hand experience that Jessica is a fantastic editor to work with. I strongly encourage you to consider submitting to her.

Odds and Ends

Today’s post is full of random bits, so I’m going to just do a bullet points entry

  • The very belated winner from the Thanksgiving Blog Hop is The Red Cross. A donation was made, and proof sent to the winning comment.
  • On a related note, I’ve had a story titled “The Finer Things in Life” accepted for another Coming Together anthology–Coming Together: Keeping Warm, scheduled to release on Dec 25
  • Before Keeping Warm is released, you’ll get to read “The Finer Things in Life” on Tamsin’s Supererotica Advent Calendar.
  • Speaking of Tamsin, did you know that she has released the December chapter of Alchemy XII? As a beta reader, I’m obviously a bit biased, but I’m so proud of her and I think it’s an amazing BDSM novel.
  • Thinking of novels–or Novellas, in my case–Capturing the Moment will be available for pre-order from Totally Bound on March 15, for purchase on Totally Bound on March 29 and for sale widely on April 29, 2016

 

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And finally, greetings from paradise. We saw this beautiful rainbow appear over our hotel yesterday.

 

Guest Post: Lynn Townsend

Lynn Townsend is one of my favorite authors, beta readers, and friends (not in that order). Her new book, Classic is the third installment of the Rainbow Connections series. I can’t wait to read the conclusion of Vin and Beau’s story, and to see one of my favorite #fictionalcrush characters, Ann-Marie.

(My review of book 1, Roll is here)

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Hi everyone! Thanks so much to Delilah for hosting me here on her blog. This Delilah, as opposed to yesterday’s Delilah (as opposed to my EDITOR, Deelylah… seriously, I go from having an overabundance of Elizabeth’s in my life to quite a number of Delilahs!) and I met… I think it was when I did Rose Caraway’s Sexy Librarian’s… or it might have been when I sent out a call for Coming Together: Among the Stars… anyway, Delilah and I have become fast internet friends — she lives VERY far away… and is one of my favorite internet peeps. So, thanks to Delilah again, and it’s lovely to be able to chat with her readers and fans. Thanks for having me.

One of my favorite writers is quoted as saying, “When a man writes a romance, the woman dies. When a woman writes one, it ends all tidy and sweet.”

The Rainbow Connection, a series of novels I have been writing for the last four years, is a romance. Admittedly, it is a gay romance, and until very recently, the likelihood of it ending in legal wedding was up for debate. But it was always meant to end happily.

The truth is, I was inspired to write what started as a short story and grew into a series of novels (three have been, or will be soon, published. One that’s being written, and one — maybe two? — that are in preliminary planning…) from an event that took place shortly before another wedding, many years ago. I had a tumultuous affair planned, for characters who took on a life of their own, ripped my control right out of my hands, and took me on a ride that I’ll never forget.

So, when I offer forth this little short story, I say to you, this is not a true spoiler. You always knew we were going this way. The road has been long, it has been winding, and it has had a great many bumps in it. But you knew the destination when you got in the car with me…

These books were always meant to be a romance, and a romance often needs a good wedding…

The Rainbow Connections Series (with links to purchase)

Book 1-Roll  (Torquere, Amazon)

Book 2-Blues (Tourquere, Amazon)

Buy Classic (Book 3) from Torquere (New in print!)

A short story, in parts….

Wedding March, Part Four

by Lynn Townsend

Part One, Wedding March is hosted at VL Locey’s blog, Thoughts from a Yodeling Goatherder.

Part Two, Wedding March is hosted on EM Lynley’s blog

Part Three, Wedding March is hosted on Delilah Devlin’s blog

Vin was quite convinced that he gained fifteen pounds just walking in the door at Ty & Knots’s Cake and Bakery. The air was absolutely pungent with sugar and chocolate, cream frosting and fondant. And then — oh, dear God in Heaven — Aglaia led them over to the tasting station. The owners, Tyler Shaw and Sonya Knots, were on top of their game. Two full tables were loaded with tiny cake squares, each labeled, and then dozens of tiny dishes of frosting samples with itty bitty spatulas to spread each kind of icing on whichever sort of cake.

Find your perfect flavor, a banner read, hanging over the samples. As Vin understood it, the wait for a Ty & Knots cake, off the street, was over nine months, but Aglaia held special commissions open for her clients. Because of course she did.

Mexican themed round wedding cake with modeling chocolate carnations and piped buttercream frosting cascading dot design in many colors by Wicked Goodies

Mexican themed round wedding cake with modeling chocolate carnations and piped buttercream frosting cascading dot design in many colors by Wicked Goodies

After they tried every possible combination — and a few of them more than once, and oh, sweet lord, was Vin going to have to work out, later. His knee ached just thinking about it. But worth it, oh, so worth it — they came to the mutual conclusion that neither of them was going to speak to the other ever again in their entire lives.

Because they couldn’t decide between salted caramel and chocolate or pumpkin walnut with cream cheese.

“It’s astonishin’ to me,” Beau said in Vin’s ear, “how we’ve managed t’ live together for near on six years an’ I never realized what an ornery cuss you was.”

“Careful, babe,” Vin said, “your dixie’s showing.”

“You know,” Sonya suggested, “you don’t have to have just one cake. It’s very popular these days, especially when we’re talking about a reception of your size, to have several smaller cakes. You can have one largish cake, for the cutting ceremony, and then smaller, themed cakes scattered around at set-ups all around the room. And we’ll put one of each of your favorites on the sides of your main display cake, so neither of you feels the lack?”

“So what do we put as the main cake?” Beau asked. He had a smut of raspberry white chocolate filling on the side of his mouth and Vin was resisting the urge to lick it off. Not that Sonya probably hadn’t seen that behavior before. Vin was just trying to adult. Look at him, adulting all over the place today. Responsible, respectable business owner. That was him. He was reminded suddenly of the couple he’d spotted boning up against the back of one of his art displays, the late end of a show that hadn’t done particularly well, and smirked. He hadn’t interrupted them because he was just nice like that. But he had watched them, because he wasn’t that nice.

“Second favorite?” Sonya suggested.

Vin eyed the plates of cake cubes and groaned. He wasn’t sure he could go through another round of tasting.

“Don’t worry,” Aglaia said, pulling up her tablet. “I wrote them all down while you were tasting the first time. I think I got your general preferences.”

“You’re a genius and I love you,” Vin said, expressively.

“No, no, you love him,” Aglaia said. “You merely worship me.”

“And we should get one that’s red velvet and cream cheese,” Beau added, loftily ignoring this display of adoration and life-long devotion between his fiancee and his wedding planner.

“Why?” Vin made a face. “Red velvet is old-lady cake.”

Beau snorted. “Because it’s Ann-Marie’s favorite, and she has put up with God knows how much shit from both of us for the last several years and we owe her. Also, because I love you, I won’t tell her you said that.”

Vin made a face and decided not to argue, because if he did argue, and lord knows he was tempted to, it might become general knowledge that he had no freaking clue what Mila’s favorite kind of cake was. He wasn’t as good with the people thing as Beau was; he probably never would be. Note to self, he thought, ask Mila what kind of cake she likes. Because it was Aglaia, and it was Ty & Knots’s Cake, and he could always call one or the other on the sly, later, and have an extra ordered for his sister. Because, of course he could.

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Lynn Townsend is a geek, a dreamer and an inveterate punster. When not reading, writing, or editing, she can usually be found drinking coffee or killing video game villains. Lynn’s interests include geek comedy music, romance novels, octopuses, and movies with more FX than plot.

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Find Lynn on Social Media

Bookshelf

I’ve finally gotten my last few releases from 2014 in paperback.  Presenting my new and improved bookshelf of published work….

 

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On the subject of banning books

I would not normally share a post from my expat blog.  But the issue of banning and destroying books in the name of “family values” affects me as an expat, a parent, a reader and a writer.  But Singapore–where I currently live–has decided to not just ban books from its libraries but to also destroy them, and I could not keep silent.

Libraries should be neutral repositories of information that trust their patrons to decide what is appropriate reading material for themselves and their families.  They should not take a side, and begin the slippery descent that ends in Fahrenheit 451.

Go here to read my blog post “And Tango makes a Banned Book.”

An Interview with Alison Tyler

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Best. Birthday. Present. Ever.

As part of her blog tour for Dark Secret Love (review below), I have author and editor extraordinare Alison Tyler visiting here today.

Readers know that I’ve been struggling with balance and writing process of late.  So when I had the chance to metaphorically sit down with Alison I needed to know how she does it.

You are ridiculously prolific.  Are you a robot?  How do you do it?  Do you ever blow off writing to binge watch a tv series on Netflix?

Ha! How did you know that I am a robot? I try to keep my wires all tucked in nice and neat. And I wear this fine dusting of pale powder over my chrome-colored skin.

Truth is, I write all the time. Even when I’m not writing, I’m writing. (Yes, that made oodles of sense.) Basically, I can’t turn off the part in my brain that tells stories. I entertain myself 24/7 (or 23/6) with scenarios about strangers I see only for a sliver of time. Not sure what life would be like without the constant whirring of words, but that’s my world.

That said, yes, yes, yes, I am addicted to a few different series. Late to the game, I found West Wing and became instantly obsessed. I lost a few weeks to House of Cards. If I love a series, I will start re-watching from the beginning as soon as I hit the end.

The strangest place I’ve found myself writing erotica was on my laptop in the parent cafe of an indoor kid’s playground.  I was huddled off in a corner, trying to finish a story while my (then) 4 year old ran around with the other kids.  What’s the oddest place or situation you’ve found yourself writing?

The bathtub. The shower. The car. Anywhere I can’t easily get to a piece of paper and pen. That’s often when I come up with my best ideas. Then I simply have to repeat the words to myself, like a mantra, until I can get dry or pull over. (Or both.) You don’t know how many times I’ve been wrapped in a towel at the computer, typing as fast as I can to make sure the words don’t escape. That wet spot on my seat is proof.

Obviously Dark Secret Love is a bit different than other books of yours with regards to how long you’ve been working on it/the highly autobiographical aspects.  Can you talk about how the process of putting it on (metaphorical) paper was different from the way you’ve written other stories?

Dark Secret Love began as a solitary blog post. An answer to a reader’s query: How did you get your start? Many writers would be able to respond in a neat, orderly fashion. My answer has taken 500,000 words—so far. My guess (or hope?) is that I’ll never reach the end. For a year and a half, give or take, I wrote approximately 1,000 words a day on the story. Gathered all together, the “book” would be over 2,000 pages long.

This is the most unique project I’ve ever worked on. There are scenes (coming up in future installments) written from the point of view of different characters. I’ve switched tenses. I’ve played with time. I’ve broken every rule taught by English comp instructors. If you can’t entertain yourself, why bother? I wanted this series to be different.

About Alison

Alison Tyler is nothing if not busy. She’s the editor of 50 anthologies (for Cleis Press), as well as collections for Harlequin, Plume, and Pretty Things Press. Her novellas include Giving In (Harlequin), Those Girls (Go Deeper), and Banging Rebecca (Pretty Things Press). Visit alisontyler.blogspot.com for impromptu makeup reviews, lingering musical longings, and the occasional 80s flashback.

Review of Dark Secret Love

Dark Secret Love is a fictionalized semi-autobiographical story of a woman’s entrance into and acceptance of her own submissive nature.

While I enjoy erotica, I don’t often connect with characters the way I did with Samantha.  Perhaps it’s because Sam’s experiences are based on some of Alison Tyler’s experiences, and thus ring more true?  Or perhaps because I understand all too well the experience of being offered what you want and running away in fear.

While there is plenty of hot sex, Dark Secret Love is more than that.  It is a deeply personal exploration of submission.  If you’re not a member of the scene and want to understand how we got this way, this book may be enlightening for you.  If you are a member of the scene, the book will ring more true than most.

My only complaint?  That the second book isn’t out yet.

I can’t recommend it enough-run, don’t walk to get your copy today.

Disclosure-I did not receive compensation for this review or the opportunity to interview Alison.  I am, however, included in an upcoming anthology of hers.

Seen in New Zealand

I wandered into a awesome sex toy store in New Zealand and saw Irresistible (the first book I was published in) sitting on the shelf.  Hooray!