Friday, August 31, 2012

Mixed Feelings

I've been dreading writing this post. Mainly because I have such mixed, conflicted feelings on the whole Clandestine Classics thing, but also because one of the number one things I hate - and I mean HATE to do - is rain on another author's parade. Authors get plenty of rain all over them, all the time, from every angle. They don't need me adding to the deluge.

But it remains that I kind of don't really like the idea of putting erotic scenes into someone else's book. Not cos I think those books are sacred, or anything. Many classics are absolute tosh, bolstered by years of everyone feeling like they have to appreciate them when really they're a load of old nonsense. It's just matter how long these authors have been dead, I can't shake that feeling I just stated above:

It's someone else's book. Would I want someone to jig my books around, in one hundred years time? No. In fact, scratch the one hundred years. Would I like finding my book with another writer's words jammed into the middle, period?

Hell no.

And this is coming from someone who adores fanfiction. Who loves retellings of classics. Who adores modern day adaptations. All of those things are wonderful, to me. I love that people want to explore the worlds of other authors...which is where the conflicted feelings come in. Because isn't all of that almost the same?

It sort of us...but the sticking point for me is the idea of not using your own words. I want retellings because I want to see that story I love, in a different style. With different thoughts and feelings and flourishes. And while inserting your own story into someone else's achieves that, in part...there's still the rest of the story that doesn't.

I don't know. Like I said: conflicted. And unsure of how to say I totally support the authors involved, while kind of saying that I don't really like the idea. Because I really felt it, when so many people attacked the idea. I felt for them, and hope that this thing does get them some positive stuff out of all the publicity. I hope it gets positive stuff for TEB, too.

You gotta do what you gotta do, in this game. And I'd never begrudge anyone that.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Standing in the doorway and watching the two children sleep in their small beds, it seemed to her that all life was on a cartwheel, not a merry go round for some reason, but a cart wheel, like a wagon wheel or maybe a gun carriage wheel that turned round and round and never stopped and seemed to fling away pieces as it turned. Now one more piece flung away. She looked down at the new telegram in her hand, letters glued to stiff yellow paper, and folded it in half, and then again and put it in the pocket of her night gown. She watched the children go on sleeping without yet knowing the new thing that had happened and the moon at the window and the trees losing leaves outside the window and a dog barking somewhere out past the tree near Kensington Gardens and the cart wheel turned round and round.

Something about Infantry Battalion number this, and the Ardennes offensive that, and the war department regrets to inform you this, and you may take pride in that. And so the cart wheel goes on and on and she had the sense of life a bout to become very hard.

It had never been a marriage of passion. It was a marriage arranged by their parents, and he was a dull and steady young man and the yhad children and when the war was over and the young men home there would be a life and a steady job in a corn accounting firm waiting for him. She had only begun to enjoy him, and to get a sense of passion in his arms, but truth be told, she took more happiness from his just being there sleeping beside her. She had never liked to sleep alone. When she slept alone the shadows seemed to come alive and full of noises and she could not bear the ticking of a clock.

She went to the kitchen and stood dully in front of the white enameled wood stove trying to decide whether to get down the packet of tea and go through the motions of heating the water. It was early in the night but she’d get no sleep now. She lit a small fire in the stove and put on the kettle and thought and then put the fire out.

She walked down the short hallway and to her room and sat on the edge of the bed that had seemed so small and now seemed enormous and empty. She thought of the children sleeping, Jane was nine, Franklin Peter was 12, almost the age she’d been when she had learned to be brave in the company of children who lived with death as though it were a wild rough game. Especially him. The Always Boy. He had never been afraid of death, never understood it or thought it had anything to do with him though he had killed people who attacked him or just annoyed him. Raised by fairies he had something of their unselfconscious cruelty about it. A lost boy. Jane and Franklin Peter, were not lost yet. Not the way some children can become lost. Not lost boys, one parent still left.

If I could find my happy thought, I might lift my arms and fly again, maybe out the window and ride the night winds like a succubus and find solace in some man’s dream, but I have no happy thoughts. When was the last time I had a happy thought? Happy enough to lift me up and carry me away? And if it lifted me up and carried me away, they would be two orphans and then they would be lost children too. He wouldn’t come looking for them, to collect them, would he?

Whatever will we do now? There will probably be a tiny pension of some kind. Then maybe mother will take us in for awhile.

She left the bed and stood at the window, imagining herself as a succubus, flying invisible, the way she remembered the fairies had done when there was danger. Cloud light on frost crisp grass; blood red moonlight on the bravely blooming hollyhocks, in the clouds the moon, governess of the transformed, bereaved and sleepless; the moon and something flitted across it.

Tree scratch on the window. And then a pool of orchid light. And then a tap tap tapping.

She raised the window immediately, without thinking, from some old habit and suddenly there were no orphans and no death and she was a girl again. Because he was climbing through the window. The Always Boy.

He was not a ten year old boy anymore. He must have made too many trips between worlds since they’d first met. Or maybe thought of his own mother too much, whatever would make a boy grow older. Each trip a span through real time that baked the passing of age on him. He was still a boy, but not a boy, a boy on the edge of manhood and maleness. He was Peter Betwixt and Between as Solomon Caw the old crow had cawed him. Not this or that, and so always young. He wore the cool light of the moon on his shoulders, dressed in skeleton leaves and the juice of trees, now a little broader, and the fragrance of moon and fairy dust, of the salt air of a far away sea, and the gaminess of a boy who had no mother to scold him into the bath. And then something else, the under iron smell of blood, a child who treated death as a careless sport at which he was always talented at playing.

She saw him differently now, somewhat older like a memory, crouched on her window sill –


“Is that still you, Peter?”

He hopped down onto the floor, still with his leaf-soft shoes and the nicked cutlass hooked through his belt. “Come to ruffle your feathers. Oh, you look old. What happened to you?”

“Have you been having adventures?” she asked.

“Lots of adventures!” he said. “You?”

“My husband just died, Peter. In the war.  I found out.”

“Oh,” he said, and seemed puzzled or maybe bored. “Well, I've had a lot of adventures.”

She suddenly felt a terrible rage for this too young man, for his outrageous vitality which mocked her own shoddy failing life.

“No adventures for you?” he said, in the tone of a waiter.

“Death is an adventure too, Peter.”

“I’ve been in fights!” he said. “I have two new scars.”

She gave up. “Show me your new scars, then.”

He brushed the leaves away from his torso and without them he was bare chested.

“See?” He pointed at a livid line near his left ribs. “Hook’s men. “

A strange vindictive feeling came over her as if in some way she wanted to conquer her old young friend.  She remembered her children down the hallway and was suddenly very afraid they would wander in looking for a glass or water and`meet`him. “From a sword?” she said. “Are you getting slow?”


“What’s the other scar?”

He laughed. “It’s near my pickle. Tink took a swipe at me one night.”

“What do you mean by your pickle?”

“Do you want to see my scar?”

She shrugged. “I don’t care. Silly old scar. If you want to.”

He brushed the leaves from his waist and groin. There was a naked young man in her bedroom, and still she was a widow and her husband was dead and the father of her children was dead and there was wall of emotion building up dangerously in her chest.  Peter did have a little scar along the inside of his right thigh. But she was staring at his pickle. “Tink did that?”

“She wanted to play a game with me one night. She thought it would make her feel good. Then when it didn’t she got mad.”

“She’s mean when she’s mad.”

“Woof! I think she wanted to cut it off.”  He laughed. 

She came up to him and looked closer at his penis. “You have a little birthmark there. Look. It looks like a bird.”

“Tink was kissing it. She always says 'Let me kiss the bird'.”

“I have one too.” She took her night gown and let it drop to the floor, the telegram sticking up in the pocket made a little tent. She stepped her legs apart so he could see the mark near her vulva. “I dare you to kiss mine.”

He kneeled and kissed the black mark between her legs. She trembled and he looked up at her from the floor. “Peter,” she said. “Why was Tinker Bell so mad?”

“She tried to play a game. You know. To fit me inside.”


“There.” He pointed.

“But Tink is a little fairy woman.”

“It was her idea, she watches people when they're doing that and thinks it might feel good. She can make herself a little bigger but when I tried too hard it made her hurt. So she got mad and tried to cut it off.”

She stared at him in shocked silence as if he had called her attention to what she had wanted to do all along.

“Tink always pesters me to do that, she doesn't give up,” he muttered. “She’s funny.”

This isn’t me, she thought. She felt as if she had grown claws. “If those days meant anything to you, Peter, anything at all. Please listen to me. Lay down with me.”

“I don’t have to.”

“But you want to.” She seemed so serious. For a moment she was his big scolding sister again, standing in the forest at his side. She felt incestuous. “Don’t you want to know if your pickle fits inside?” An exaggerated gasp burst from her. “Well, don’t you?”

He squinted at her and his pickle seemed to throb with an inner energy. His phallus was filling and rising. It was like an invocation. An act of faith, as she laid on the bed, on her back opening her legs for him to see. “Here.”

He sat on the bed beside her, looking down between her legs. “You’re really bigger than Tink.”

He climbed onto the bed and laid himself between her legs. “How . . .” he said.

She took his phallus and guided him in. She was not quite wet, it seemed like a struggle, something she was forcing on them both. She knew there was a reason to do this, she didn’t know what just yet. He lay over her, dropping his weight on her, clasping her breasts in both hands. “Wendy?”

His plaintive voice stirred something in her. She wrapped her arms around him, bucked her hips to snug him inside all the way, and held him tight without moving.

“Wendy?” His voice was raw, shaking. “Wait. Wait. Wait – “

“We’re having a very big adventure now, Peter.”

She squeezed him hard with her legs and arms and jogged her body up and down under him until she felt his back tense. She shouted and babbled at the ceiling and shook his body, rubbing against him as the bed springs squealed in time with her rocking body. Suddenly he seemed to catch fire and his haunches bumped awkwardly against her.

“Wendy!” His head turned suddenly to the side as though in pain. “Oh!”

And then they were still.

He climbed off her and sat sullenly on the edge of the bed. He was clearly different. Bigger somehow. Taking more space in the room somehow. She looked at his groin which had suddenly acquired more hair and then his shadowed face which had grown more chiseled and showed signs of a beard. “How do you feel?” she said.

He stood up, clenching his fists and pacing in a circle . He crossed the room to the little bathroom and began splashing water on himself at the sink.

“I said, how do you feel?”

“I feel like I squirted in my mother,” he called back.

When he came back, still naked, Wendy sat up in bed and looked him up and down. “You’re not a boy anymore, Peter.”

He looked down at himself in horror, holding out his hands. “What did you do to me?”

“You’re becoming a man now.”

“Who’s Frank? Am I Frank?”

She was startled. “Frank?”

“When I was on top of you, you were getting crazy and you shouted ‘Frank’.”

“Did I?”


“I guess I did.”

He picked up the belt and cutlass from the pile of discarded forest leaves which had gone suddenly from green to crispy brown. “You . .” he said, “I think . .. but … I grew . . .but. Wendy!” He waved his fist. “Tink is going to be so mad at you! She’ll come looking for you.”

“But what about you, don’t you like our adventure together?”

He stood quietly. “I don’t know. It felt funny in you. I’ll come back, we’ll play again maybe. Then I’ll know.”

“No,” said Wendy. “You can’t come back.”

Peter stamped his foot. “I’m old!” He pulled the cutlass from his little belt and for a moment she was afraid. He drew a square in the air. As his sword moved the air filled with the shape of wood and suddenly there was a door with a gold door knob. He turned the knob, went through and closed it. She could hear him, he was weeping. She had never seen or heard him cry before.


She got out of bed and went up to the wooden door suspended in the air and turned the knob. It was locked. She walked around and looked at it from the other side, but there was no door on the other side, only the room. When she turned to look from the front again, the door was gone.

She thought of her children safely sleeping in their room. He would never come back looking for them now, not after this. Whatever happened to her after this night, they would never be his lost children, not ever.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Miss Woodhouse Receives a Spanking

By Jane Austen and Lisabet Sarai

Emma had no opportunity of speaking to Mr. Knightley till after supper; but, when they were all in the ballroom again, her eyes invited him irresistibly to come to her and be thanked. He was warm in his reprobation of Mr. Elton's conduct; it had been unpardonable rudeness; and Mrs. Elton's looks also received the due share of censure.

"They aimed at wounding more than Harriet," said he. "Emma, why is it that they are your enemies?"

He looked with smiling penetration; and, on receiving no answer, added, "She ought not to be angry with you, I suspect, whatever he may be. To that surmise, you say nothing, of course; but confess, Emma, that you did want him to marry Harriet."

"I did," replied Emma, "and they cannot forgive me."

He shook his head; but there was a smile of indulgence with it, and he only said,

"I shall not scold you. I leave you to your own reflections."

"Can you trust me with such flatterers? Does my vain spirit ever tell me I am wrong?"

"Not your vain spirit, but your serious spirit. If one leads you wrong, I am sure the other tells you of it."

"I do own myself to have been completely mistaken in Mr. Elton. There is a littleness about him which you discovered, and which I did not: and I was fully convinced of his being in love with Harriet. It was through a series of strange blunders!"

"And, in return for your acknowledging so much, I will do you the justice to say, that you would have chosen for him better than he has chosen for himself. Harriet Smith has some first-rate qualities, which Mrs. Elton is totally without. An unpretending, single-minded, artless girl – infinitely to be preferred by any man of sense and taste to such a woman as Mrs. Elton. I found Harriet more conversable than I expected."

Emma was extremely gratified. They were interrupted by the bustle of Mr. Weston calling on every body to begin dancing again.

"Come Miss Woodhouse, Miss Otway, Miss Fairfax, what are you all doing? Come Emma, set your companions the example. Everybody is lazy! Everybody is asleep!"

"I am ready," said Emma, "whenever I am wanted."

"Whom are you going to dance with?" asked Mr. Knightley.

She hesitated a moment, and then replied, "With you, if you will ask me."

"Will you?" said he, offering his hand.

"Indeed I will. You have shown that you can dance, and you know we are not really so much brother and sister as to make it at all improper."

"Brother and sister! no, indeed."

In truth, he held her far closer than Emma would have thought proper, had he been anyone other than the dear friend of her father whom she had known from childhood. When his hand meandered from her shoulder down the stretch of her back bared by her decolletage, she attributed this familiarity to the excitement of the dance, for the orchestra had struck a lively rhythm with this second set, quite in contrast to the sedate and graceful measures that had characterized the earlier hours of the ball. Her quickened breathing and rapidly beating heart she likewise blamed on the quickness of their steps.

His hand drooped lower still, until it rested upon her hip, though his manner was still so casual that she could scarcely credit him with being aware of his impropriety. Emma glanced about at the other couples on the dance floor - Mr. and Mrs. Elton, the Westons, Jane Fairfax in the arms of Frank Churchill, Harriet led by Mr. Cox – and reassured herself that all their attentions were fully engaged with their partners. No one appeared to have noticed Mr. Knightley's most unaccountable brazenness.

His fingers padding at her flesh burned like a brand through her gown and petticoat. She gazed up at him in a silent question, searching the dignified and noble face so familiar to her, and so dear. A wild light flared in his eyes while his smile conveyed a most unexpected hint of mockery.

“Are you unwell, my dear Miss Woodhouse? Your complexion has gone quite pale.”

She sagged against him as something like a fever rushed through her. An odd protuberance prodded her torso, noticeable despite the stiffness of her corset. “I – I'm not sure. I do feel somewhat faint.”

“Let me escort you to the garden. The evening air is bound to revive you.”

Her normal equanimity most seriously disturbed, Emma allowed him to lead her away, although she could feel the curious eyes of the other guests following them. His hand encircled her waist as he drew her away from the brightly illuminated ballroom, through the double doors to the terrace. After seating himself upon a wrought iron bench, he pulled her into his lap.

“Mr. Knightley! Sir! Whatever are you doing?” Her efforts to resist were feeble, for the sake of form only. In fact, she craved nothing more than to feel the heat and hardness of his man's body against hers. For once, Emma could not deceive herself. Despite her shame, her conscience could not conquer her far more urgent desire. His lips were mere inches from hers while his bold hands clasped her thighs with breathtaking force.

If he should kiss me, Emma thought, I shall indeed faint away, but if he does not, I doubt I can bear the disappointment.

The moment of silence drew out, until Emma was convinced her companion was deliberately prolonging her agony. At last he released a laugh, so bold and harsh that it made Emma wonder if he'd gone mad.

“I've changed my opinion, Miss Woodhouse, about your disastrous matchmaking. I've come to the conclusion that you are far more likely to mend your ways if you receive a bit of chastisement.”

Without waiting for a response, he flipped her over his knees and began to draw her skirts up her legs, exposing her sky-blue stockings. Emma kicked and struggled, sending her kid dancing slippers flying into the shrubbery.

“Wait! Stop! What are you doing?” He had flung her dress over her head and was now parting her petticoat. Almost before she realized what was occurring, he had bared her bottom to the cool night breeze.

“What your father should have done long ago. You have been pampered and indulged for far too long, Miss Woodhouse. It's well past time that someone take you in hand, and by Job, I'm the man to do it.”

Searing pain flashed across her tender buttocks as his palm landed, hard and true. Her cry echoed through the garden, scarcely muffled by the fabric swaddling her head. With his second, even more ferocious blow, her voice rose to a keening wail.

“I'd advise you to be quieter, Miss Woodhouse, if you want to retain your reputation as a paragon of polite society here in the parish.”

“Please stop, sir! I'll keep my imagination in check in the future. I promise.”

“A promise is better sealed with flesh and blood, Emma.” He rained more blows upon her poor naked bottom, each one seemingly more excruciating than the last. Sensible to the truth of his recommendations regarding noise, she bit her knuckles and tried to stifle her cries.

As the spanking continued, Emma noted a change in her own reactions. The fiery sting in her bottom kindled a strange sensation in the secret recess between her thighs. The conflagration seemed to spread, heating and then melting her female core. The tingling there reminded her of dreams she'd deliberately pushed out of her mind, visions she had been ashamed to consign to her journal – visions which, she now recalled, had featured the person presently abusing her. He was right to punish her. She was vain, silly, willful, and now, it appeared, consumed with lust as well.

With a calculated degree of stealth, she parted her legs to create a wider gap between them, hoping to lure her tormenter into touching her there, in that sensitive spot she dared not name. A hunger such as she had never known seized her, an unbearable emptiness that she knew could only be assuaged by the man who held her in thrall. Surely, he could not help noticing her moist offering, yet he continued to spank her, ignoring her silent plea. Emma moaned, nearly overwhelmed by sensation and need. Would she have to abase herself to the point of begging?


About a month ago, Total-E-Bound, one of my regular publishers, triggered a media firestorm when they announced the launch of their new Clandestine Classics imprint. Clandestine Classics are pastiches which augment time-honored and beloved works like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, A Study in Scarlet, Anna Karenina, and Northanger Abbey by adding explicit sex scenes. “Risqué remakes” is how the publisher bills these books. The objective is not to retell these favorite stories in an erotic way, but rather, to take the original text and expand it – to flesh out (literally) the romantic relationships implied in the original, or hidden behind closed doors.

I was invited to contribute a volume to the launch. I declined. At the time, I felt something close to outrage. All the targeted books are works in the public domain, so officially at least there are no copyright issues. Nevertheless, to me, the process felt like a desecration of something sacred - like we were robbing these authors by modifying the books that define their legacy.

Not all the books on TEB's list would be considered masterpieces, but many fall into that category. How incredibly arrogant to believe that a gaggle of romance authors can successfully hack into the prose and the story in order to “seamlessly” insert scenes that don't fit the tone or the intent of the book in the least – even if they succeed in capturing the language! In general, I don't have any problem with pornography – it has its place and its purpose – but this effort to pervert the classics (in a literal sense) struck me as exploitative porn of the worst sort. In their solicitation, the publisher promised that Clandestine Classics would boost sales for all of TEB's titles. I wasn't sure I wanted to be associated with a publisher that felt comfortable adding raunchy sex to Macbeth.

I urged the publisher not to go ahead with this plan. I anticipated that many readers would share my sense of violation at seeing their favorite books boulderized and “sexed-up”. It seemed to me that the negative publicity would far outweigh the benefits of any sales.

I was wrong. Total-E-Bound anticipated the vituperative attacks of both moralist and literary types; they viewed the controversy as a marketing opportunity. The week the Clandestine Classics project went public, Total-E-Bound was all over the news – in blogs and forums, in print media, on radio, on television, in the United Kingdom where the company is based and in the U.S.

As time has passed, I've calmed down a bit. For one thing, I've listened to the excited chatter of the authors who've participated in the effort. They've picked books that personally excite them. M/M romance authors finally get explore the possible sexual relationship between Holmes and Watson. Writers who grew up mooning over the attraction between Rochester and plain Jane now get the chance to make their teen dreams graphic. These authors treat the process very much like fan fiction – although there's a big difference in that fan fic rewrites the characters' stories, rather than grafting sex into existing books.

If someone decided to take one of my stories and “augment” it by adding sex scenes (unlikely as that seems), I'd be furious. I'm a bit surprised that the contemporary authors who have contributed to the Clandestine Classics don't realize they're doing the same thing to someone else's masterpiece. Does it really matter that the author is dead? I concluded that, among my author colleagues at TEB at least, mine was a minority view.

I also came to understand that I'm hopelessly old-fashioned. In this world of digital content, nobody seems to be upset by “mash-ups” that throw together ideas or expressions in ways never envisioned by the creators. One reason it's so difficult to combat piracy of digital content is that many people – perhaps the majority of individuals who have grown up in the Internet age – believe that content should be free of restrictions, that anyone and everyone should have the right to excerpt, quote, condense, and perhaps, insert his or her own “contributions” to the material. Total-E-Bound is sticking strictly to the law – in fact the Sherlock-Holmes-derived Clandestine Classics can't be sold in the United States due to some sort of trademark issue – but the spirit of the imprint has much in common with people who create play lists or videos by munging together content they happened on and liked, whether they “own” it or not.

Anyway, for this topic at Oh Get a Grip, I thought I'd take a stab at a bit of pastiche myself. It proved to be as difficult as I had expected - simply finding a good spot to insert a sex scene was hard, given that most of Emma is polite conversation – but quite a bit of fun too. I don't intend to take this any further, though, and I sincerely hope that Jane Austen isn't turning over in her grave.

At least I gave her first billing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Slippery Truth

by Jean Roberta

When I first started writing stories, they came in two completely different packages: 1) adventure stories that resembled fairy tales, which evolved out of bedtime stories I used to tell my younger sisters, and 2) stories based on my life, because realism seemed to allow for more grownup writing techniques (mostly smirking irony, which came naturally to my teenage self). For an example of Category #2, check out “Storyteller’s Tale,” here:

Then I discovered erotica and started writing about sex. Even though I had experienced some good times, the reasons for not writing my sexual memoirs seemed obvious. My relatives would die of shame! No one would want to know me! (except in the Biblical sense.) My ex-lovers would sue me! (I had visions of a class-action suit.)

So I wrote sexual fantasies, and writing them was almost a physical pleasure. Whew – an imaginary kind of female Robin Hood who plots revolution in snug leggings and a leather jerkin would not object to being described on the page, and neither would the bodacious princess who chooses to join her. Neither would a studly but sensitive man.

Then I began to see calls-for-submissions for “true stories” from women about their sex lives. I wondered why. I read several of these anthologies, and several of the stories made me suspicious. The multiple-body, simultaneous community orgasms seemed too good to be true. Other stories had the flavour of real life, but what kind of friend/lover/spouse would be perfectly willing to be a character in someone else’s story?

I considered the down side of truth-telling, or speculating about someone else’s truth. It’s called gossip, and even if it originates in honest curiosity, it can have drastic results. I’ve encountered (and heard about) self-defined heterosexuals who ask stunningly nosy and tactless questions about sex between two men or two women, about BDSM, or about the lives of those who identify as transgendered. Many people, it seems, have a voyeur’s curiosity about the “perverts” who live on the other side of the tracks or the red-light district, without wanting to know the personal consequences of public soul-baring.

If the readers of “true” sex stories are all sniggering peep-freaks, I thought, I’m not willing to give them the satisfaction.

Yet writing is a way of talking to oneself. When I write something about my own life and read what I’ve written, I can see it from a different angle than I did at the time. So, after a long argument with myself, I wrote about my first experience of sex with a woman, and the story was published in a print anthology. Nothing terrible happened to me. So I wrote another story which was more-or-less based on a real relationship, and it too was published.

When I saw yet another call-for-submissions for true lesbian sex stories, I contacted the editor (whom I’ve met in person) to offer her the above two stories. She said she was not looking for reprints, but would love to see something new and interesting from me.

There was the catch. The editor’s description of what she wanted sounded much like fiction to me: an engaging story with narrative momentum, which reaches a climax, an epiphany, and possibly a happy ending. Real life tends to be messier than that. How far could I stretch an actual encounter or relationship and still call it factual? (I should probably mention here that I’ve been with the same partner since 1989, and I’ve promised not to write about her.)

I realized that I just couldn’t cook up a fantasy and swear that it actually happened, down to the last detail, or rack my memories for an episode that might better be left in the past. So I didn’t send anything new to the editor, who has since collected enough stories to launch the book. Good for her and her contributors, I say, but I’ve already said what I had to say about my own experience.

From now on, I plan to write about emotional (and glandular) “truth” in imaginary contexts. Fictional plots seem unlimited.

Here is a conversation between novelists Grace O’Connell and Steven Heighton about truth-telling in fiction:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On Fictionalizing My Truth

By Jade Melissande (Guest Blogger)

When I saw this week’s topic, I knew I had to write a guest post. The simple truth is, everything I write is autobiographical. Yes, the short stories I write and have published are called erotic “fiction” – and, strictly speaking, they are fiction – but at the core of every story is an actual, real-life event that happened to me.  If you look for it (and at times you don’t have to look very hard) you can find the real-life version of almost every story I have written right there in my blog.
I am mostly a sex and kink blogger that also writes a bit of short erotica. My blog is the explicit, genuine and very real account of my life as the kinky partner of two men.  Every time I write there I share the details of my sex and kink life, as well as the intricacies of multi-partner relationship dynamics: the good, the bad, the ugly…the hot, the sexy, and the sweet.

And then I use those episodes to write my short erotica.
The events really did happen. The sex that she is having, I have had.
But at the same time, I am not the “she” in the story. She has hopes and dreams and a life that is not mine; motivations that have nothing to do with my own; feelings and reactions and realities that are hers and hers alone.
I like that word, “realities.” About a fictional character. But that really is the way it feels for me, when I start to create this “her” that isn’t me. When I begin to separate her from me, to flesh out her story, to make her not “me.” This is both the challenge and the joy in being a writer that uses my own life story as source material – to find that separation between her and I, between our experiences, to find what makes her uniquely herself, and not me. To write her reality.
It is a joy because I love to build a character’s life, to imagine a life that isn’t my own. I love the fantasy and solving the puzzle of who she is and why she does these things she does.  Who is she, why is she there, why-oh-why would she do this??  And it is a challenge because, since my own story is at the heart of this, I have to make sure she is unique, and that she isn’t me. Because as interesting as I find my own life, I know everyone else may not be as enamored of it, at least enough to read about me in every short story I write. So I have to make sure she has her own life and her own voice.

But this is why I write. To experience those joys and challenges. To find ways to explain and expound upon my own experiences, via these other women whose stories I tell.

Jade Melisande writes about her life as the partner of two kinky men in her blog, Pieces of Jade. She has published short erotica in numerous anthologies, both in print and online. For a complete list, please see her blog at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Telling the Truth?

"Fiction is the truth inside the lie."
Stephen King

There is a heart of truth inside every piece of fiction I write. A living, breathing truth that beats and provides the literary life support to the story. It starts with an idea, an image, a moment of mental clarity and it evolves and mutates into... something else. An old silk scarf that is pulled through my hands before it's tossed in the donation bag becomes the method by which a character is bound to a chair. An angry, bitter conversation becomes a confrontation between characters, neither of whom resemble the real people who argued. And so it goes. 

That little nugget of truth thuds along-- cocooned in lies and spackled with other bits of truth-- and it becomes something that doesn't resemble anything from my life. Most of the time. There are things I have written and had published that hit close to home, but I think I'm the only one who flinches as I read something that is too true, too exposed-- because I am the only person I am willing to sacrifice on the altar of my craft. And even then, my exposed truths are rarely enough to incriminate me. I hope.

I have written things that were autobiographical, yes. How could I not? Of course, the temptation here is to joke about my sex life because, after all, much of what I write is erotic. But the most true parts of what I write are rarely sexual (I said rarely-- not never). They are the conversations that I have, the memories that linger, the experiences that most profoundly affect me. They are there, in my writing. But, but... they are often rendered in soft focus, much like a photograph taken with a smudge on the lens. You can make out the image, but perhaps not all of the people in the picture are clear-- or their expressions are blurred.

I don't use real names in my fiction, of course. Real people are there, though I doubt most of them would even recognize themselves. What I consider noteworthy-- the traits or situations that end up in my fiction-- are often insignificant to other people. Writers are cultural anthropologists and behavioral psychologists without the fancy degrees-- human behavior intrigues us and we use our people watching (and listening) habit to enrich our fiction. We borrow and steal from others, like crows stealing the shiny bits of your soul. 

When it comes to writing fiction, I don't have a hard and fast rule about writing about real experiences or real people. I take it on a case by case basis. I have intentions to write a memoir some day and I know I will have to expose more of myself (and others) than I have in my fiction. There will be no "Fiction/Erotica" label on the spine to deflect readers from thinking certain things about me and that leaves others vulnerable as well. How to approach it? Do I ask permission first or write my story and ask forgiveness later? I don't know. I will have to figure it out as I go. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Stealthy Cad

by Kathleen Bradean

Have you ever written about your lovers?

Hmm. Yes, and no. Next question?

Oh. You want me to expand on that answer. Well, hmm. I've never turned on the literary hidden camera and preserved a... what does one call it? Sexual encounter? An episode? A tryst? Anyway, I've never written about one of mine from start to finish with any attempt at historical accuracy. Mostly because when it's good, I roll over and fall asleep. I'm such a romantic. But really, try to cuddle with me after an intense orgasm and we will have words. Mine will be, "Go away." Yours better be, "Sorry," or better yet, silence as you get on your own damn side of the bed.

I would never write that in a story.

I haven't written about most of my lovers since-- let's be honest here-- the average person makes for a terrible character. They aren't extreme enough to be interesting to read about, and extreme people in real life are too high maintenance to have an affair with. As an example, my latest passion, the TV show Sherlock. In real life, if you lived with someone like Sherlock, chances are that you'd (okay, I'd) take a baseball bat to him one evening as he plucked that damned violin for three hours straight. Not to mention that he'd probably be terrible in bed. But I'm sure there's already scads of erotic fan fic about him, and probably quite a bit of it is slash* with Sherlock and Watson. But without looking to verify this guess, I doubt there's as much erotic fan fic about Watson sans Sherlock, even though in real life Watson would be the far better lover of the two. Since I haven't done jail time for assault with a deadly weapon, you can assume that in real life, I haven't had a Sherlock lover. But I know that readers don't want a Watson; they want the Sherlocks. That's my best writer's reason for not using my real lovers as characters.

However, I have written about one truly terrible real life sexual encounter that reflects so poorly on my skills in bed that it comes off as a comedic piece. And I wrote it with enough true details that it's possible that she'd recognize herself. I have mixed feelings about telling that story. Not because I'm embarrassed about my part (well, yes I am, but if you can't cringe at your past, you don't have one) but because I feel like a cad sharing what she had every right to expect was a private moment. Thankfully, she's the only one who could point to a story and say, "That bitch wrote about me!"

I've grown stealthier about sharing things. Now I start off with characters and plots that are emphatically not me or past lovers until I reach the point in the story that must ring true. That's when I tap into those affairs that left deep impressions. I dredge up the emotions and physical responses and for a paragraph or two bare my past to readers. Old lovers won't know, because no one ever knows what's going on in your head or what sensations you're feeling. Old lovers won't see themselves in the characters. Readers won't know because it's hidden within a story-- or if you prefer, a morsel of truth wrapped in pretty lies and indistinguishable from the rest. But what I write in those paragraphs is the real thing. Like orgasms, that's something I don't fake.

* Slash. If you read erotica or fan fic you're probably aware of it, but if this is a new term for you, slash is m/m (male slash male) fiction. There's also f/f and other variations, but when someone says slash, they usually mean male, although not necessarily gay even if it includes male on male sex. Slash is a complicated topic. I'm not even going to try to address all the nuances here. Just take it to mean here that the fan fic with Sherlock and Watson probably portrays them as lovers. 


Friday, August 17, 2012

Honest Fantasy

I tend not to write based on real life. Not because I fear repercussions or feel too exposed - I just prefer to write fantasy, over reality. Maybe because I've lived a very boring life...I don't know. But the allure of fantasy, of escapism, of things I could never do...that's always been the draw for me, with writing.

Not just erotic writing, either. Any kind of story that I've always wanted to tell.

Which I guess makes it kind of odd that I try to ground these stories in realism. I guess what I really like - what I'm really after in storytelling - is that sense of something fantastical...that could actually happen. Does that make the least bit of sense? I want to believe, I suppose. I want to see someone soar across the clouds on a magical dragon made of ice, but have them react the way I would. The way anyone would.

I want fantasy to be real.

And that's pretty much the closest I get to reality, in my stories.

Oh, of course I've used little bits and pieces from my life. My heroines often prefer cold drinks to hot. I have a deep love for Marks and Spencers, and that place often shows up in my stories. Snippets of conversations and feelings often get through - I think I focus a lot on the idea of being alienated, isolated, feeling different to everyone else and reaching out because of loneliness. Even my warmer stories have a thread of that: they're usually about two people who've found the exact right thing in each other, to ward off the cold outside.

But the actually things that happen in my stories...they're never based on reality. The action, so to speak, is the fantasy. And even in Sheltered - which felt very raw to write and had a lot of me in it - the events are far removed from my actual life.

Which could make me an awful writer, I suppose. Maybe I don't tell the truth, as much as I should. But I try, even in the world of things that never happened. I try to find some honesty in it, and I hope I succeed sometimes.

Because to me, there's nothing better than an honesty fantasy.

P.S. Have just seen that (yet again) my comment hasn't shown up on my last blog post, in reply to Jo and Lisabet. Many apologies, guys! I didn't ignore you! And Lisabet, in particular - thank you so much for your wonderful review at Erotica Revealed. Am so thrilled you enjoyed it! And to Nathan, too...I don't think I've ever been so touched by a short story review. Lovely to see!

A Letter I Never Sent

by Jean Roberta

Writing autobiographical pieces always feels unnecessarily dangerous at the time. How will others react to the writer's pathetic life? Nonetheless, letting out some real-life emotion is a relief.

Here is "A Letter I Will Never Send," based on my breakup with my first woman (loosely speaking) lover in 1982. It was posted on a site named “Scarlet Letters” in January 2002 as part of a theme issue on breakups.

Dear Kerry [not her real name],

I haven’t spoken to you in years, but I still see you sometimes. Don’t think you pass by unnoticed. You still move through space as if you knew where you were going (do you?). Lately, though, I’ve seen glints of silver in your thick black hair, and a few lines in your face that weren’t there before. Who would guess that I am older than you? You were such a wild puppy when we first met.

You must know why I never speak to you any more. We still live in the same community, but we might as well be separated by soundproof glass. Are you still drinking? I shouldn’t care, but I do. The pain you left me with is still alive somewhere inside me, like the imaginary baby you wanted to give me.

Someone I respect wants to get you barred from every bar in this town, as well as every other public place you might try to enter. She hates you because you stole from her as you did from me. Do you realize how much else you take when you steal the property of someone who trusts you? Fifteen years ago, I screamed at you in my rage that you would pay and pay for what you did. And I know you have been punished, but that’s not what I really wanted. I just wanted you to understand, and to give back.

You told me once: “I wasn’t just after your money.”

I answered: “I know.”

The warmth of your hands when you touched me told me what else you wanted. You could kiss me when you were drunk without making me feel used. Even with the smell of beer on your breath, you tasted real. You seemed to be searching for an identity, but you already had one. Even your gender seemed irrelevant to who you were. No one else ever moved against me with your rhythm, or with the perfume of your sweat.

I have argued with myself (and a lot of others, believe me) about why I wanted you so much that I would open my door for you at 2:00 a.m. after the bars had closed, and let you carry me back to my own bed. You didn’t even have to undress me, since I always wanted to feel your skin against mine as much as you did.

Did I know I was a fool? Oh yes. But I also hoped against reason that I could save you from your demons, or help you find your inner hero. I could see that part of you just as well as I could see the female fruit between your legs when you showed yourself to me.

You used to say you wished you could marry me and live with me for the rest of your
life. I know that wasn’t all hot air. You liked me to wear dresses, but you also told me that in some ways, I was more butch than you. I have always grieved over my failure to take care of you.

At the strangest times, I remember the feel of your hands in my hair, or even the heat of your mouth on my breasts. You would pull one of my swollen nipples into that wet cave as though you were starving for my milk.

Have you ever told anyone how I sometimes used to ride you, exploring your inner channels with my small, determined fingers? Your need to be known that way seemed powerful enough to fill the air of my bedroom as the incense from the censer filled the space of the church when I went to mass with you. Do you really believe we are both damned because of our secret communion?

I couldn’t imagine living without you until the day I found out, and then I knew I had to. When I walked into the bank, I suddenly felt as though I had lost a lot of blood and might fall to the floor if I didn’t steady myself against a counter. The teller, a friendly young woman I didn’t know, showed me that my fear was justified: my well was dry. A scavenger had stolen my nest egg. Sixteen hundred dollars in Canadian money isn’t much by international standards, but it was all I had, and it was for both of us. How many rounds of drinks did you buy for total strangers with that money? I doubt if you'll ever tell me the story of that party. It's probably just as well.

You broke my heart, and I’ve never been the same as I was before. I became stronger, and that was a good thing. Endurance, the ability to survive what seems unbearable at the time, is a currency that can be used anywhere. I owe that to those who have hurt me, including you.

Am I driven to seek out suffering by forces beyond my control? I doubt it, and I won’t accept it. What I was looking for is so much better than pain.

Even when we moaned together in the night, feeling as if our cells could explode, leaving us permanently merged or mixed up, you were on one path and I was on another. I still worry about where you are headed. I know that your path leads to death in one form or another, and I suspect that I will hear about your passing long before I go to join you. That news won’t give me any satisfaction.

The echo of the pain you left me with reminds me that I am alive, and that I can feel other things too. You sometimes pass by me like a winter breeze that teases and stings just enough to bring a blush to my face. I will never forget you.

In love and sorrow,

a ghost from your past.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

In The Garden

She came on the foundation of a great journey of fear. I had been afraid of girls all my life until high school. Didn’t know how to talk to them or be around them. They were supernatural beings, mysterious and exciting, vastly superior to boys. If a girl borrowed my pencil, I felt honored. If she chewed on it, I would meditate on her tooth marks. I had only been able to bring myself to talk to girls after my family broke up and instead of living in houses, we lived in low rent apartments, a precursor of the communal life that would come for me later. I ran into girls my age as often I stepped into the hallway, and in the summer time, there was the swimming pool. For kids, the swimming pool is the great gathering place. Even if you find girls unapproachable, walking to school, and there by the pool side, the girls find you. Even if you’re afraid of them, they come to you and speak to you. Some girls are not turned off by shyness, but excited by it. Breaking through your shell becomes an interesting conquest, as though taming a wild animal that has showed up at their door. You learn that with an effort you can be a little witty, get them to laugh at your jokes. Soon you’re going out with them instead of collecting comic books.

Coming home from the library, I walked into a store called Fin Fare, to find out why it was called that. She was working behind the counter and she told me she knew me. She was in my school. She liked to stand behind me in the lunch line and listen to my voice, watch me talking to my little gang of friends. She thought I sounded smart. She thought I would be interesting to know better. After that I came by to visit whenever I could. So the Fin Fare girl and I became close friends. I met her when she got off work, and we walked. Walking was the door into conversation I had discovered on my own. I had learned that walking and talking went together as naturally as books and coffee. She talked about her family, her feelings, her resentments, her dreams. I listened. It was the one skill I wanted to learn well for her. Look at her face, enjoy her eyes, ask a question. Be ready for a quiz. I have since lost the knack of listening well, having become more solitary after many years on the road. She was interested in ideas, the great adolescent questions. We began to go places together. This was back in the day in Minneapolis when the Guthrie Theater could be a cheap date. We went to see live plays performed, Shakespeare and Steinbeck, and I imagined myself as a playwright someday. She didn’t laugh at these things, she thought it was possible.

My mother moved us to Georgia and she and I wrote letters continuously, almost daily, just as people would email today. My Dad invited me back up for the summer to talk about future plans for college. She was waiting to see me again. We had never left each others' thoughts for a day.

I was allowed to borrow my Dad's old Mercury Cougar, in a time before seat belts and bucket seats, when a kiss and a furtive feel in the dark before saying goodnight, were only a matter of sliding to the other end of the seat and gathering the other in your arms. The conversations and the protests began. That's enough; I think we'd better stop before we get crazy. But I like crazy. See you tomorrow. Okay. Good night. But you'll see me. See you. Miss you.

Another night, sitting in the dark. My hands under her clothes, like a conquering army gaining ground yard by yard, night by night. She pulls my hands away, puts them in my lap. I don’t know. I don’t know if we should. Should? Should what? You know. No, I don’t. I'm just saying. Are you okay? Yeah, I'm okay.

Another night. Sitting in the dark. My fingers have attained her nipples at long last, under the cloth of her T-shirt, having slipped in unopposed under the loose rim of her bra. Did she wear it loose for comfort, or for me? I don’t know what to do with them, how they should be touched. I know nothing. With each progress, my ignorance is miserable, which only fuels my clumsy determination and vanity. Her nipples feel so different from mine. Bigger. Tougher. Purposeful. Real. A girl's nipples are not the same. Pulls my hands away. I'm not ready. It’s okay. I know you're a virgin, she says. Yes, I say. I know you want to lose it. Yes, I say, but I'm okay. I want it to be with you. But when you’re ready to lose it too. I can wait. Then we'll both be ready. I'm not a virgin, she says, but I'm not ready. Not with you. You’re my best friend.

Whoa whoa whoa. Not a virgin?

My face burns. She can't see my face in the dark. Thank God. I've been slugged in the gut and I want to shove her out of the car, dump her on the pavement, call her something but I don’t dare. She has already given to a boy what she will not give to me. I thought I was worthy, but I'm nothing after all. There are better men, men she wants. Men who know how. I am not sexy. I'm not desirable. Easy to refuse. Easy to push away, because I'm a nice boy. The kind you can always talk to. The kind of boy who stops when you tell him to, eager to please.

What happened? I speak with cheerful curiosity, as if asking for a funny story, some old family gossip. I keep the tension out of my voice. No, its nothing. No, come on, tell me, I want to hear it now. You can’t just throw that out there, tell me. It's okay. It happened at a party, that's all. There was this guy. Do you love him? No! - nothing like that. Just a guy. He's a jerk.

Yes, I think, just a jerk - so you took it all down and fucked a jerk. For him you do it.

I was a little drunk. He brought me upstairs. I was just curious. You know what I mean? You get curious to see what it is, and he was just there. So I just let it happen. You just did it? Just like that? Sure. How? Upstairs, like I said. But how? What do you mean how? On a bed. The people who lived there, their bed. You know. You want to hear this? Yeah, I really do. Sure? You okay? I’m okay. This is really great, go on. This is a really great story. So anyway. We went upstairs in a room and got on the bed. It was over quick. So you did it upstairs on the bed. I was drunk, okay? How was it? It was awful. It hurt. Then he told me I was lousy, I didn’t know how to fuck, he said. He said I didn’t know anything. Well, you were a virgin right? I mean, how would you know? Yeah, that's right. You know something, that's right. How would I know?

I couldn’t stop myself wanting her words. All her words. I wanted her story. All her story forever. The more the words hurt me, the more voracious I became to gobble up her story like rat bait. I was changing. The story. I want to know the story. The story! Words are powerful when they’re the right words. Words are demons that can get in your head. I didn’t know that. Now I knew it in my bones, in the yammering of my skull. Words could have a powerful and terrible magic.

are you okay?  sure Im okay.  I want you to be okay because you're so good for me.  I'm okay allright.  you don't seem that okay.  stop asking me if Im okay if I say I’m okay I’m okay. 


There she is spread on a bed. Opening to him, to his boorish claspings. Beer on her breath as he puts his tongue in her mouth. There. And there he is. There, sticking up like a ball peen hammer. I see him! Why are the lights on? Does he insist? Drunk or not, pushing her knees apart, nude, and he has her now, the boy she has chosen for herself.

Climbing on board, really knocking it in there. Get it done, get your hammer in boy, fuck her up one side and down the other, make her yell and bang her up good so she knows she's been done good big buddy, this girl who has chosen you instead of me, this girl who will never ever forget you long after I’m washed downstream - and in my wretchedness I discover I am utterly poisoned with love. Smitten.

I hear his slapping belly on top of hers. Hearing it! Words. Seeing them entwined like worms. I hear his grunts. Her squeals. She monkey-grins at the ceiling. Burn eyes! I see them perfectly. I am there. The bed springs rising rhythm. She digs her nails in his back and I am there beside them, an enraged, murderous ghost.

She smiles at me, her confessor. I feel so close to you, she says.

Well, goonnight. Goonnight. Goonnight. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Kiss kiss.

I drive down the block, go around the corner and pull over. I turn off the engine and roll up the windows so no one will hear me as I scream and pound the dashboard with my fists. I get out and walk in the dark silent streets for an hour.

I don’t see her for a week because I have been seeing her every moment of every day, splayed on the bed with the boy she chose. Each time it’s a little different, but the ending is always the same. She finally calls me on the phone to see if I'm alright. I'm fine. I thought you might be upset. Upset? Why, what for? Well, you know. No, no. You seemed upset. No, no. Just busy. Let's go somewhere tonight. Let's go eat. Let's go talk.

There is the restaurant. After the small meal, and the last of my money, we walk down Nicollet Avenue. We talk. She’s in the mood to talk "gut level", her phrase for intimacy. I'm grateful to her for reaching out to me. For coming back. I tell her that.

She leans against me, wraps around me, and we walk dreamily, stumbling into each other. I'm so glad I have you. You’re the only one I can talk to.

Back in the familiar dark. Parked in her driveway. The lights of her house are out. Her parents asleep. This time it’s different. It feels different. The fumbling goes farther. She lifts off her T-shirt and looks in my eyes and I am seeing a woman's bare chest for the first time in my life. I don’t know if we should, she says, I want to, but I don’t know. Why? Because if we do, listen, if we do, everything is going to change I just know it will. Are you ready for this? Yes, I say. Are you sure you want this? I'm sure.

T shirt back on. Climbing over the back. Wait. Unfastening. Unzipping. Just a second. Breathing fast. Quick. Quick. She's changing her mind every second. I don't know if we should. Fumbling. I don’t know if we should do this. Hurry. Are you sure? Yes. Oh yes. Jeans off. T shirt stays on. Hurry. If my step-dad comes out and sees us doing it, he'll kill me, I’m telling you. He'll beat me up.

Only half naked for me. Was she naked for him? Half sure of what she's doing. Maybe the guy really was a jerk. Maybe it’s easier for a girl when she doesn’t really like you. Maybe it comes harder when she likes you a lot, because there's more to lose. Everything is going to change – how does she know this? It’ll just get better of course. Won’t it? So confused. I feel ridiculous. This isn’t what I thought. Terrified. But it’s fantastic, because it’s with her, because it’s with her its fantastic. She’s chosen me. Exhilarated. It would be easy to call it off. But I’m always calling stuff off. All my stupid life, I've been hesitating. Afraid. I don’t want to hesitate this time. Not about this. Maybe this will never happen again if I hesitate. This time I want to pull the trigger. Yes, I want this, I say. Let's do this together.

I want to say I love you, to seal the deal but I'm so afraid she'll laugh. She's heard that tacky stuff before, probably. Maybe the clever jerk who got her fucked said that just to get her pants down. Then he told her she was such an awful fuck, maybe to ruin her for other guys. I'm terrified it will sound stupid if I say it out loud - I love you! - at this moment when its all going to happen if I just don't do anything to mess it up. I'm terrified of the power I’ve given her to hurt me.

She reclines on the back seat like an offering on an altar. She knows this thing better than I do. Her upper body is in shadows. Her lower body is in light. She waits to see what I will do with her body, with her feelings. She’s waiting for me to be good. Am I good? Her face hidden in the dark of the door well. Between the lush valley of her thighs, the street light on a rich delta of dark curls. There is where it must be done. Somewhere there. I'm sure that's how it works. That's what it said in the medical dictionary at home. Panic. Do people do this? When the moment comes, it all seems so unnatural. When death comes to me, will death feel like that too?

Once ready, having taken up that ancient masculine posture, hovering over her, I withdraw into a self conscious workmanship. I’m learning a new skill, without a teacher, but in the presence of an audience and judge of one. She opens a little and waits. I hear her breathing; see her belly rise and fall. I touch her, to find the wet spot. She opens more, resolved now, and I lower myself gingerly, holding my breath. Poking and probing, I can’t find the spot. Jesus Moses, this is stupid. This is crazy. I can’t see anything. The other guy, he could probably see everything when he was giving her the time upstairs on a proper bed with the light on and everything. Oh shit. Drunk my ass. She was just making that crappy lie to protect herself. She loved it. Bitch! She loved it and she wanted him bad. She got down on her knees and begged for it and sucked his goddamned dick! For sure - they stayed up all night banging away at it like ferrets and she called him back to beg for it all over again!

Lying Bitch!

She gasps loudly in pain. Jesus. I don’t even know what I just did. It’s all falling apart. No, I can't let my clumsiness hurt her, I will not, no matter what, even if I have to give this up in defeat and call it a night. Anyway, she knows it now, I’m no great lover, I have no confidence, I don’t have a clue about how this works, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing this for anyway, how I got into this. The other guy who fucked her, he's just a better cocksman than me and that’s how it is. Now she knows it too. Goddamnit. Godfuckingdammit all.

In an agony of humiliation I whisper words like a prayer to the shadows where she lurks, "I think I’ll need your help." I feel her hand touching me softly down there. I feel how she touches me. Her generosity. Her patience. Like a tug boat bringing a ship to the dock she takes hold of me there, gently pulls and guides me home. Trusting, I let her lead me. When I arrive, I feel something strange and hot pressing tentatively against me. I give an explorative little bump and I’m startled to feel it sink like a blade, to feel the flesh parting. She lets go of me, like a mother letting her child learn to walk, to let me find my own way now. I impale her easeful deepness, feel it slip further, and there is the strange gross sensation of warm slick meat enveloping me. And all this time I am thinking - am I doing this right? It feels . . . it feels . . . icky. Like raw meat. Is this natural? Is this what people do? Am I disgusting to her? Is this what Jerome kept doing to my friend Terri, until he ruined her life? Is this what my dad did to my mom? This. . . wet meat . . . Like sticking it in raw liver. He did this to her? Like this? Many times? And then I was born?

Her hand on my back, pressing me down all the way, encouraging. Relax. You're shaking all over. Are you okay? I'm okay.

When she had hurt me before, butchered me with her story, I had loved her more in that moment of misery than I had ever imagined possible, but now having arrived in paradise, in this awkward moment of consummation, I just want it to be over.

I settle over her and wait for my racing heart to slow down. I’m covered in sweat like a race horse. She moves under me, then seizes me aggressively, shifts her legs under me, working her hips hard and fast against my groin, whispering "you’re beautiful, you're beautiful". Those are all the things I’m supposed to be doing and saying to her. I don’t know how to speak words like that- you’re beautiful. I don’t know how to say I love you. I never ever said those words to anybody. No one had said them to me. Instinctively I don’t feel this is some reckless kind of passion coming from her, this is something else. Something calculated. She is determined to be The Fuck of The Century, to impress me all the way through, to make sure she is not "a lousy lay" ever in my eyes. Suddenly it all lets go, my orgasm weak and transparent, a sense of something leaving me and that’s all, as she flogs away at me furiously, babbling angry things. She stops. She tries again. She stops. She bursts into tears. I listen helplessly to my girl shaking under me sobbing in the dark.

"What is it? What's wrong?"

“I can’t make you come.”

“. . . what . . ?”

"You didn’t come. I’m shitty at this, I’m no good!"

"But you did.”

"I didn’t feel you."

"But you did. You made me come good."


"It was greatest thing that ever happened to me. You made me come so good. You’re wonderful." I find her mouth by the sound of her sniffles, kiss her and hold her tight. I whisper in her hair "You were really great. I love you fine. You’re the best." I feel false. Selfish. Hollow.

I kiss her beautiful face; I kiss her ears and whisper assuring things to her. It’s what I’ve wanted all my life, ever since I knew there was such a thing, and it’s all going wrong. But there’s one more thing going wrong, the worst thing of all. The revelation. I get it now.

Now that we’ve both eaten the apple, the realization, the thing we can’t ever talk about is growing. She is right. She is right about everything. We’re not in the garden of innocence anymore. We’ll never get it back like it was. How did she know? It's all going to change now.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Professional Liar

By Lisabet Sarai

Breathe... Moist, ripe, heavy, laced with the scents of jasmine, garlic, diesel fuel, the tropical air was strange but welcome after the stale atmosphere of the airplane cabin. Kate O’Neill stepped off the jet way and filled her lungs gratefully. Even in business class, the twenty hour flight had been grueling. Kate ran her fingers through her tangled auburn curls and tried to smooth the wrinkles from her practical cotton skirt as she joined the crowds queuing at Immigration.

She felt a bit dazed. Only a month ago, she had answered the advertisement in the Boston Globe, and now here she was, half a world away, surrounded by foreign faces, buoyed by the musical rise and fall of Thai and a half-dozen other Asian languages.

Thus begins my first novel, Raw Silk – with a re-creation of my own sensory impressions from the first time I got off a plane in Bangkok. Actually, back then, in the nineteen eighties, there were no jet ways. I recall clambering down the steel steps and walking along the tarmack to the terminal, assaulted by the muggy heat even at eleven at night, breathing air that smelled as though I'd landed on another planet.

Like Kate, I'd come to Asia for a new job. I was easily as bewildered and overwhelmed as she by the vagaries of an alien culture. I used my own recollections to bring verisimilitude to Kate's experiences. But is Raw Silk autobiographical?

Yes, and no.

Threads of truth weave through the narrative fabric. The book could be viewed as a fictionalization of my own sexual explorations, especially my initiation into dominance and submission. I borrowed scenes, sexual activities, character traits, even specific items of dialogue from my interactions with my real world master. When he read the novel, he definitely picked up on at least some of my references.

Probably he would have been annoyed at my disclosures, if flattery hadn't won him over. After all, how many men have lovers who immortalize them in best selling (well... sort of) erotic novels? And anyway, my shy, nerdy, sensitive master is barely recognizable in the arrogant, crude, savagely sexy hero Gregory Marshall.

Unless you stop and listen to what the character says...

I'm a writer. That means I'm a professional liar. I take bits and pieces of reality and spin them into fantasy. My fiction abounds in people, situations, and settings drawn from my life and history. Although I might start with the truth, though, I leaven the facts with substantial portions of imagination. And I mix things up – locations, personality traits, sexual adventures – until I really don't need to worry much about the original subjects' complaints about my revelations.

Certainly I don't want to antagonize anyone from my past. However, the primary reason for embroidering upon the truth is simply that real life is rarely as interesting as fiction. I could write about that totally arousing visit to the Renaissance Faire – but in fact I didn't really end up with the bawdy wench and her swain, much as I would have liked to. That solo cross-country rail trip could have involved a quickie in the top bunk – but alas, things never progressed beyond flirting.

Many of my stories begin with actual experiences or relationships, and then spin off into the realm of fantasy when I start to ask “what if”. What if my master and I lived together? (We never have.) What if my mid-western boyfriend in grad school had been interested in BDSM? What if I found a Victorian diary detailing a society woman's sexual adventures? What if I'd met my master after decades of being married to someone else?

In fact, I've only written two or three stories that closely track real events, and even then, I manipulated the outcomes. And I find that as I've gained more writing experience, my tales have grown further from their autobiographical roots. Still, I do return again and again to a few primal scenes, the ones that touched me most deeply, telling the story from different perspectives, reliving the intensity through my characters.

I sometimes wonder whether readers can tell. Do the scenes closer to the “truth” somehow feel more real? Or am I as skilled a liar as I believe?

Let's try a quiz. (Of course this will only work for people who are somewhat familiar with my books...) Which of the following scenes from Raw Silk is mostly closely based on real life?

  1. The infamous sex with chillis scene
  2. The scene is which Kate masturbates with the knob from the end of her hotel bed
  3. The scene in which Kate has sex on stage with a Thai go-go dancer
  4. The scene in which Somtow pleasures Kate with a ripe mango
  5. The scene in which Gregory sodomizes Kate for the first time.

Am I going to give you the answer? As I consider the list, I'm not sure I can. I know which of the items above I intended as the right selection, but when I review the others in my mind, I realize each one has a core of truth, even if I modified the background details.

In fact, the more I write, the harder I find it to distinguish between things that “really” happened and things that occurred only in my fiction. I know this may seem bizarre, but my most exotic sexual adventures took place decades ago. Looking back now, I find they have a dreamlike quality – not very different from the way I remember my stories. The imaginary settings in my novels feel as tangible and detailed as the places I've actually been – perhaps more so, because I had to observe them more closely in order to describe them for my readers.

At this point, truth and lies intertwine so intimately in my fiction that even I can't distinguish them. And I suppose that might be viewed as dangerous, to some.

But I've always lived my life more in my head than in my body. The products of my imagination have at least as much substance for me as the so-called real world. Dangerous or not, there's nothing I can do.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Change is Good

by Kristina Wright

"And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~ Anaïs Nin

I'm not a big fan of change, especially change that is beyond my control. When I was 21, I disliked change so much that I was, in fact, labeled "resistant to change" on an employee evaluation. I liked consistency, predictability, routine. That sounds boring, and I suppose it is, but that was my comfort zone. Still is, really. And yet, my life has over the past few years has been a runaway train picking up speed and heading for inevitable change. Some of those changes have been beyond my control-- physical changes of age, changes in relationships I once held dear to me-- lives change and evolve and sometimes all we can do is mourn what is lost and embrace the change. That isn't always easy.

I found myself in the emergency room over the weekend, helpless and in pain, and then happily drugged out on morphine. I hadn't been in a hospital in eleven months, when I delivered by second baby, and the change was profound. Being 44 years old and giving birth to an almost eleven pound baby made me (and my big baby) something of a maternity ward celebrity. It was a joyous occasion, one full of light and love (and a steady morphine drip, too). This time, I was just another middle aged woman having a gallbladder attack, warehoused in a hospital room (ironically, on the same floor as the maternity ward) awaiting a too-busy doctor. Instead of feeling empowered by my body's abilities as I had last year, I felt sick and helpless and scared.

My way of thinking has changed over the years. I used to believe in letting nature, time and circumstance take its course and bring about change-- or not. I was willing to sit back and let life happen to me rather than make deliberate changes. Good things happened as a result and I called it luck. Bad things also happened and I cursed the universe and my own stupid resistance to change. I no longer believe in letting things happen-- not in most cases. I can now see my own mortality on the horizon and I know that if I hope to accomplish everything I want to in this life, I'm going to have to make those changes happen.

Change is scary for me no matter what the circumstances, but it is especially frightening making deliberate changes in a happy life. It seems to be tempting fate-- saying that what I have isn't enough. Life was good before I had kids. Then the big Four-Oh came and went and I realized that I might want to get serious about deciding whether I wanted to be a mother before time decided that for me. There have been so many changes with the addition of first one kid (a deliberate and planned change) and then the second (a "let's see what happens" happy surprise change), you'd think that would be enough change to last me for the next decade or so, right? But no, I find myself contemplating other life changes (and, sometimes, contemplating another baby) and getting excited about what the future might hold.

Watching babies turn into toddlers is its own lesson in accepting change. Children grow so quickly-- going from helpless bundles to whirlwinds of energy-- that I am constantly in mourning for a certain stage (the first smile! that first tooth! the first step!) while I'm rejoicing in a new stage. Some changes, like children growing up, you just can't fight. Change flows through my house like a river-- and it's better to go with the flow than fight the current and exhaust myself. My way of coping with the changes is to take hundreds of pictures of my babies growing up before my eyes. Pictures to remind myself-- and them-- of all the changes that make them who they are. I am not changing at the same rate as these little people who have invaded my life, but I am changing. And learning. Sometimes the hard way.

My weekend visit to the ER was a slap in the face (or a punch in the gallbladder)-- a reminder that though my amazing super-fertile body can produce babies via Cesarean section and bounce back quickly, my body is still very much middle aged and has not been well-cared for except during pregnancy. And so it's time for some new changes. I know I need to eat better and exercise more, not for the vanity of physical appearance (one of the best changes of the past two decades has been to accept and love my body just the way it is), but for my long term health. Perhaps making changes that will be good for my body will avoid the change that I have no control over-- agonizing pain that ends with me in the hospital, being told I need surgery.

I have another change coming up soon: I'll be short an organ. The gallbladder is coming out. It's not a change I planned for and I'm not looking forward to surgery, but despite my own belief in not sitting back and letting life happen to me, I've done just that with regard to my overall health this past year (and in the year between my first and second pregnancies, truth be told). So now I'll suck it up and deal with this unwanted change while making changes that will-- hopefully-- improve my health. Who knows where those changes will lead me? But in this case, it's an easy enough change to embrace.

Along with my personal changes, Oh Get A Grip! is undergoing some new changes as well. Unfortunately, my unpredictable health scare made me blow my first run at this new Grip schedule and for that I apologize. I'm already seeing how making simple changes in how I treat my body will have ripple effects over other areas of my life. Just like that... change happens. And it's going to be good. I can feel it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

We Need to Talk

By Kathleen Bradean

In the entire history of humans, when has that comment ever been followed by good news? It makes your stomach sink and your mind scurry to awful, uncomfortable places such as inexplicable guiltland and panic-attackatania.

And yet, when Lisabet mentioned that we needed to talk about the future of Oh Get A Grip and pointed out what she saw as some of the problems, I think the rest of us sighed with relief that someone finally said something. It's not as if we chat a lot behind the scenes on a regular basis. Most of us are busy writing, some of us edit, and all of have these real lives that can get a bit needy from time to time, so I think we let things slide in the hope that things would improve magically on their own. We could all see the issues, but no one wanted to be the one who said We Need to Talk.

But like most conversations that should happen, this one turned out great. We came together and hashed it out fairly quickly and now we'll see how the changes work.

My favorite part has to be the topics we tossed into the hat for random draws in the future. No more panicking Saturday night as I realize I haven't posted a topic. We're going to know well in advance. I like the discipline of sitting down each week and having to write (because lord knows some months this post is all I manage to write, but at least it's something) but twice a month is much easier on my schedule especially now that I've been lured back into that massive time-suck we writers like to call 'the first draft of a novel.'

As I've mentioned many times before, my father was in the military. I went to seven schools in eleven years (not counting the four universities I attended) and by the time I was thirty-four years old I'd lived at twenty-two different addresses. (twenty-three was the charm. I've been here forever). So change doesn't scare me much. Sometimes a fresh start is the perfect cure for what ails your spirit. And if you don't have to pack your entire life into boxes or find out what's lurking under your clothes washer to do it, all the better! But my real hope is that these changes make life easier for some of the other Grippers who have had unwelcome news recently or are under attack by real life, because I'd really miss reading their contributions.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Disgusting Biscuit

Here's the thing about change: I hate it. I loathe it. If change were a biscuit I wouldn't eat it. I'm not one of those people who thrives on it, and loves moving from house to house and job to job. I don't even love moving in tiny ways, like from the couch to the kitchen.

To me, change is synonymous with terrifying. I didn't like it when my best friend moved ten miles further away. I don't like it when I go to the supermarket, and find that Bird's Eye have bafflingly stopped making those chicken breasts in a garlic sauce. It just seems senseless, stupid, and occasionally like the universe is trying to fook with only me.

Or is it that beared dude who runs Bird's Eye who's trying to fook with me? I don't know, but I'm onto him. I see him making new lines that are actually good for you and really delicious, then tearing them away from me just as I'm used to them. And I don't like it.

I don't like his stupid beardy face.

I don't like change.

Of course, I know where this risk-averse terror comes from. I know what my craving for calm, safe stability is about. It's about abandonment, and sudden shocking death, and abrupt traumatising accidents. All those things have touched my life, and all those things have left scars underneath my skin. And just when I think they've completely healed over, just when I think they're gone for good, they build an extra level of gnarly tissue, that presses against the bits inside me marked "random food I like" or "some telly program I love".

You know, minor things. That I shouldn't really care about. But I do, because of those big things. Those big things are always in the back of my mind, telling me not to dare, or hope, or wish for too much. They've just made me want to be safe - but unfortunately, safe is so boring. I know its boring. I know I'm boring, compared to other people.

But I am trying to change, a little. And I think I'm getting there, too. Recently, I had to leave my job of twelve years. A job I've loved; a job that had become almost a part of me. And I thought when I left that I'd feel an echo of that terrible grief, that deep sadness, those losses I can't quite recover from.

Only I didn't. Within a week or so, I felt lighter, happier. So much stress fell away from me - stress I hadn't even known I'd been feeling. And it reminded me how good change can be, though you might have been afraid to make it. For the first time in my life, a sudden and shocking change turned out well. And I suppose it did, in part, because I had some hand in it. I was able to choose.

When it comes to change, choosing makes all the difference. You just have to be brave enough to do it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Moments of Fleeting Joy

The great moments begin from little moments passing by, like the one a few weeks agao when my supervisor called me and some others into his office. I was worried at first that I had done something wrong, but it wasn’t about me. We were all in trouble.

“The facility is closing down,” he said. “It’s being deactivated and your jobs are being closed out.”

It was a money thing. It was a money thing seven years ago that had brought me to my little town and now the money thing was back. It always has a way of finding you, it follows you like the eye of God followed Cain across the wilderness in the Bible. By this time next year it will all be over.

So I’m job hunting again, and I may get something in my little town or it may be somewhere else, and that’s if I’m even that lucky at all. Sure I’m scared. I just tell myself that when the time comes I’ll know what to do.

I don’t write well when I’m scared and I told my bog mates I wouldn’t be able to come up with the goods pretty soon because I might be under some stress, but we all worked out it and thinned out the schedule here a little and we adapt.

In my experience love is about adapting. You marry someone but they turn out to be different from who you thought they were or who you thought you might love. So for the marriage to survive, you adapt. You change yourself, and love what there is to love and soon your ideas of love change.

In a town or a place, for someone like me who has never known a home, if you stay long enough you begin to adapt. You evolve to fit that place. Darwin’s famous expression “the survival of the fittest” is usually misunderstood to mean the survival of the strongest, as in physically fit. But that’s not what Darwin meant. His nineteenth century syntax of the word “fittest” means the way a key fits into a lock. Something that fits the most – the fittest. He went on to assert his observation that the species who continue over long periods of time are not the smartest, or the strongest. They are the ones who adapt most quickly to change. The ones who know how to fit.

I never wanted to live in this town. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Your next job is over there, if you want it. Yes sir, I believe I do want it. My life has been lived in that tumbleweed manner, not dealing in terms of who or what I want, but constantly fitting myself to what is put in front of me. I’m not sure that’s the right way to do things, but its too late now.

When you live in a place long enough, when you live with a person long enough, you find things. That little Chinese restaurant that always makes good food, the one down the street from the theater that shows last run movies for two dollars instead of ten. My church, my spiritual family of people with audacity and spiritual integrity, I’ve found them at last. That walking path by the Savannah. The water park for three dollars. A peach tree in the summer. The taste of home brew and smoked brisket. If you live in a place long enough and try to own it you reach that place within yourself where you begin to love your world and it begins to love you back. And then the news comes.

So I don’t know. Attachment causes suffering. Maybe I’ll get to stay. Maybe its not given to me to stay anywhere for long. But I think I know now what Heaven would be, if I could believe in such a place, which I do not. It would be that world that loves you back.