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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:

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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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.

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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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WIP–Santa’s Elf

The end of the year is insane for my family.  Although right now we are more preoccupied with birthdays and Halloween, the focus will soon shift to Christmas.  Since I left childhood behind, Christmas became more of a chore and a hassle.  Then I had children.  Christmas is now still something of a hassle–if you ever want to test your marriage, try putting together a tricycle on Christmas Eve with your spouse–but it is also magical all over again for me.

One of the things I love about Christmas with little kids is the belief in Santa.  Sometimes I use this belief for evil–such as threatening to call Santa to report bad behavior when they’re on my last nerve.  But most of the time Santa is reminds me of that time in my life when magic was real.  When I truly believed that good people would be on the Nice list, mean people would be on the Naughty list, and that Santa would dispense justice accordingly.

The idea of Santa’s Naughty and Nice lists inspired a story that recently found a home.  I’m pleased to announce that “New on the Naughty List” will appear in Coming Together: For the Holidays.

For the Holidays

Lucy the Elf has her first fieldwork assignment.  Is Matthew a Naughty sexual deviant or a Nice guy on the wrong list?

Typically I’d tease a sex scene, but I really love the set-up and world-building of this story.  My plan is to write more stories set in this world and eventually release an anthology.

Lucy cleared her throat.

“What?” Kendra snapped.

“I have a Naughty that can’t be video verified,” Lucy said cautiously.

“So? Base it on their history on your list.”

“It’s a new Naughty. I think we need to arrange for someone to do a physical verification.”

Kendra heaved a sigh and rubbed her temples. “Take Blitzen. Go down and do the verification yourself, but get it done today. I don’t have to remind you it’s the 23rd.” She made a shooing motion at Lucy. “Give the rest of your list to Andrew; he was bragging that he’d finished his. That’ll shut him up.” She returned to her work.

Lucy stammered, “But I’ve never done a field assignment. I’m—”

“Are you kidding me?” Kendra’s head whipped up. “You’re going to bitch about a field assignment on the twenty-third? The twenty-third? Get your ass down there, do the verification and get back here!”

Reindeer Complex was buzzing with activity. Prancer’s handlers were counting reps as he did something resembling push-ups. Cupid was screaming at her elves for putting decaf coffee in her bucket.

Blitzen’s stall was the only one without a crowd outside the entrance. Lucy peeked in to see the reindeer sprawled on the floor, watching Star Wars. There was a bag of potato chips half-hidden under some hay.

Lucy knocked. “Blitzen?”

Blitzen grunted, but didn’t look up from Leia’s pleas to help her.

“I have to go South and verify a new Naughty? The video system isn’t working? Kendra suggested that you give me a ride? To Boston? I know it’s the twenty-third, but it’s a new Naughty.”

A long-suffering sigh was his only response.

Lucy knew she couldn’t screw up her first field assignment. “Please, Blitzen?”

Dancer’s voice erupted from the stall opposite Blitzen. “These bells are tarnished! How is that acceptable? Does no one care about standards anymore?

Blitzen’s ears flattened at the increasingly shrill noise. “Fine. At least I’ll have a valid excuse for getting out of here.”

Blitzen explained how to ride reindeer-back and then they were off. Lucy’s emotions swung betwixt excitement and terror. This field assignment could mean big things for her career if she was able to verify a Naughty.

Coming Together: For the Holidays is a charity anthology for StandUp for Kids, an organization trying to end Youth Homelessness in the US.  Publication will be this December.  I’ll let you know when I have more information.

*****Edited to add***** Apparently I posted an excerpt of this story last November, which you can read here.  The elf’s name was originally Gemma, as in that excerpt.  I have a story coming out with a protagonist named Jenna, which is why I changed the elf’s name to Lucy.