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LiliaFord

LiliaFord

Mostly Cross Posts from my blog, Readings From the Dark Side

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Budding Love
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New Release: Teen Wolf Fanfiction

 

For reasons that my therapist and I have failed to adequately elucidate, back in November I was suddenly gripped by an overpowering compulsion to write my own Teen Wolf fan-fiction. In fact I wrote two. The first is a short PWP (porn without plot) Steterek (Stiles, Derek and Peter). Not too much to say about it except that it’s completely filthy, set in the omegaverse (see below), and bears the title, “In Which Stiles Channels Linda Blair.” It should take less than fifteen minutes to read. Here's my (homemade) cover for it:

 

 

 

The second story, entitled Mating Bite, was much more ambitious, with a final word count of 24,200, making it the third longest piece I’ve published. Though I immensely enjoyed writing it, the experience did convince me that my own personal muse is in fact an incarnation of Teen Wolf’s sex-bomb, Erica Reyes, who most likely suffers from a (mild?) case of oppositional/defiant disorder.

 

 

 

This less-than-sympathetic personage refused to inspire anything as straightforward as a Sterek or Steter but rather mocked me with a story featuring the "rare pairing" of “Jisaac,” aka “Jackson Whittemore /Isaac Lahey.” Luckily for me, she was generous enough to set that story in the “omegaverse,” which I’d been dying to write about since I first discovered it in a Supernatural fanfic.

 

For those who are new to fanfiction, the ‘omegaverse’ is the term for a world where all humans are born into one of three “classifications,” Alpha, Beta, or Omega, and generally possess traits more or less ascribed to (were)wolves. I’m going to squelch my instinct to say something mocking about it because the solemn truth is that omegaverse fanfics are among my favorites.

 

Now many omegaverse stories represent the ne plus ultra of porntastic filth, complete with heats and especially knotting, which (needless to say) I’m all for. But as Foz Meadows' brilliant essay, Thoughts on Fanfiction, recently argued, the omegaverse is a large one, offering writers across diverse fandoms a framework to explore issues related to fantasy, identity and politics. My favorite stories in the genre deal with a lot of the issues closest to my heart, including the tension between fantasies of sexual submission and the fight for real-world autonomy and rights for women and other historically disempowered people. Meadows puts it far better than I can:

Given the steady popularity of historical romance novels, whose female characters struggle to autonomously navigate love and marriage despite their lack of legal, social and sexual protection, it shouldn’t be so surprising that omegaverse stories reflect a similar tension/dialogue between submission and activism in a context where the one is simplistically taken to negate the other. Nonetheless, there’s a compelling paradox in the idea that omegaverse fics are just as likely to condemn such violent oppressions as to explore them in the context of kink or sexual fantasy, while the fact that both elements might be simultaneously – and deliberately – present within the same narrative is a testament to fanfiction’s versatility.

I wish I could quote more, but I'll just have to urge people to carve out the (not insignificant amount of) time to read the whole essay, which I especially recommend to anyone interested in fanfiction, which should be anyone interested in the changes in contemporary publishing. (And while I'm here, I'll also recommend her equally insightful essay, Teen Wolf: Subversion, Masculinity, and Gender.)

 

I can’t make grandiose claims for the politics in my own story, but it does deal with five high school omegas who have formed an activist group, Omega Rights Today, and are trying to balance their own dreams for college and careers with the intense social pressure to find Alpha mates as well as their own longings for sex and love.

 

So without further ado, I present Mating Bite, a Jisaac fanfiction, currently available on Archive of Our Own.

 

Here is the blurb:

 

Seven years ago, Jackson Whittemore forced an Alpha mating bite on eleven-year-old omega Isaac Lahey. As punishment, he was banished from Beacon Hills until they both came of age. In the meantime, Isaac has become best friends with Stiles Stilinski and helped him found the high school activist group, Omega Rights Today. But having finally turned eighteen, Isaac knows that Jackson will be coming for him.

 

Those accustomed to my lengthy, detailed content warnings may be surprised to learn that this story requires less in that department than anything else I’ve ever published. Here it is: it’s M/M and it’s explicit, but otherwise there’s only one sex scene, not much in the way of kink, and no consent issues.

 

And in case you were wondering why you should hire professionals to make your book covers, here is the one I manage to make on Powerpoint:

 

 

 

Finally, as part of my Teen Wolf craze I've been spending a tiny bit of time (all right, hours and hours!) pinning and posting images on Pinterest and Tumblr, and came up with the brilliant idea of creating an "illustrated" version of each chapter of Mating Bite.  Here's a small sample of the pictures you'll find there:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need I say more? 

 

 

Is there a difference between “Non-con” and “Rape”?

If you read a lot of “non-con” romance, you will inevitably run across angry reviews making some version of the argument, “rape is rape.”

 

I associate the phrase “rape is rape” with the efforts to raise consciousness of date rape during the late 1980s and ‘90s. For people born before the sexual revolution, "rape" was something that involved a stranger with a gun in a poorly lit parking garage. Especially after the taboos against premarital sex were lifted, it became clear that the vast majority of rapes are “acquaintance rapes” where the parties are known to each other, and the most complex—i.e. hard to prosecute--of those cases take place between people who are romantically involved. Within that context, the phrase served as a crucial reminder that just because you dated or kissed or got drunk does not give your date the right to ignore your refusal to have sex.

 

And I understand that books that “blur the lines” over consent—romanticize what in real life is a crime, contribute to the myth that a woman who says “no” really means “yes,” that experiencing sexual release somehow negates the violation of will, and so on—would be infuriating to many people. From this point of view, calling these stories “non-con” is a dangerous whitewash.

 

I agree with these arguments—up to a point. It is absolutely crucial that everyone understand the importance of consent in sexuality, that we refute rationalizations that offer to excuse abusive, illegal behavior, that we empower all people to make healthy, conscious choices about their sexual relations. However, I consider accomplishing these real world ends to be something quite separate from, and not in any way incompatible with, the activity of reading romance novels that feature non-consent

 

Obviously, I am coming at this from the perspective of a woman who both reads and writes “non-con,” so I won’t pretend to objectivity, but I would like to lay out why I think the distinction between “non-con” and “rape” is both justified and necessary.

 

A lot of women, myself included, have what are commonly call “rape fantasies”—fantasies of being forced, helpless, humiliated, with varying degrees of violence. I have my own theories of why this may be, but they’re not based on any research, so they don’t have any more authority than anyone else’s. I do know that I have had these fantasies since before I was old enough to recognize them as sexual (for example, a childhood fascination with being kidnapped—I used to pretend my Sunshine Family dolls had been subject to a home invasion in their dollhouse) and that I do not have any trauma or abuse in my past that would offer up a “pathological” reason for why I have these fantasies.

 

I am also a die-hard liberal progressive, so I felt deeply ashamed and guilty about my fantasies for many years, until I hit my forties and finally said “WTF.”

 

For me, the distinction between “non-con” and “rape” is all-important. “Rape” simply cannot be a fantasy. Rape is my worst nightmare. It is the perversion of my most intimate fantasies into a tool to degrade, brutalize and damage me. It is turning me into the object of my enemy’s fantasy, one in which I am worthless, where my pain and humiliation serve to titillate someone else, where my feelings don’t matter. We hear pretty often the saying that “rape is a crime of violence not sex,” and that seems to me exactly right. It is an act of cruelty that seeks to violate the will and destroy the personhood of the victim.

 

“Non-con” fantasies are often treated as crude jerk-off fare, but my own experience is that they are quite complex, with deep roots in the inhibitions, sexual fear, guilt and shame that throughout most of history have been foisted on women and their relationship to their own desire. But whatever their origin, again from my own perspective, the defining condition of anything called an “erotic fantasy,” whether non-con or not, is that it must have pleasure and fulfillment as its ultimate goal. Moreover, within our fantasies, the loss of control is of course completely imaginary: there is no violation of will. No matter how violent the fantasy, the “victim” is always in control. In a very real way, what happens in the fantasy is simply not rape.

 

Insofar as romance novels are vehicles and expressions of these fantasies, I would argue the same rules apply. The fact that sometimes these depictions are brutal or violent doesn’t change that their goal is pleasure. And I can say as a reader, romance depictions of non-consensual sex do not feel the same as fictional depictions of the kind of “rape” I described above: the first is erotic and the second is horrifying.

 

Obviously, how a reader perceives a given scene is incredibly variable. Many readers are deeply disturbed by them, and unquestionably survivors of rape can find them traumatic, which is why content warnings are so important. But assuming there are safeguards to protect readers who don’t want to read books with non-con elements, I think it’s a very real question whether indulging in “non-con” fantasies causes greater harm either to the women who like them or to society at large—and by “real question,” I mean there are good arguments on either side and no real all-knowing authority who can inform us of the absolute truth. (And this doesn’t address the problem that I think there are plausible arguments in favor of regarding female fantasies about being “raped” as different and less harmful than male fantasies of raping someone else).

 

But as regards the question of damage, I would like to make two interrelated points. First, our society has a very old, very ugly history of condemning women for having “improper” sexual fantasies. In my own experience, women are at least as guilty of shaming other women for having the “wrong” fantasies as men are, and that impulse to condemn seems to spring as readily from the political left as it does the right. Ironically, as a sexually active teenager in the 1980s, I was able to dismiss my mother’s dire warnings that people would label me a “slut,” but I thoroughly internalized the often vitriolic feminist condemnation of women who indulged in disempowering, “retrograde” fantasies.

 

Bottom line: If we are going to argue the damage caused by female consumption of fictional “rape fantasies” then it’s only fair that we weigh that against the harm done by shaming and condemning women for their fantasies. (And, to risk another parenthetical, there is also the problem that shame and repression can make it difficult for some women to own their desires and communicate them clearly to their partners, which can in and of itself lead to destructive sexual encounters including rape.)

 

My second point is that the “rape is rape” argument negates the difference between fantasy and real life in way that seems to me utterly unhelpful and self-defeating. What we need is a better understanding of “rape fantasies” and why they are so different from the real-world crime of rape.

 

A few facts come to mind; as in fantasy, fiction is ultimately under the control of the author. She can know the true motives and desires of her characters, can state for certain what harms them and what doesn’t. In a novel, a scene of forced seduction can be credibly played as one character forcing through the unhealthy social repressions and inhibitions of another character for the simple reason that the author says they do—it’s within the parameters of the world the author is creating.

 

That knowledge is, essentially, magic. It does not exist in real life. There can be no scenario where a man can confidently dismiss a woman’s consent because he “knows” what she “really wants.” It is impossible to know for certain how a person can be helped or harmed by a given action. Violating the will of another person based on your own interpretation of their internal life is criminal—and delusional.

 

I would argue that we need to reinforce for both men and women why fantasy and fiction are fundamentally different than reality, just as we reinforce for our children that much as we love superheroes, those powers don’t and will never exist in real life.

 

I’ll just finish by saying that every woman I’ve ever met, whether she has been a victim or not, has to deal with the reality of rape. The fear is so ubiquitous and longstanding that most days we don't consciously register the million ways it influences our most basic decisions--over how we dress, whether we can travel, or even go to the store at 1am. I have no choice but to live with that fear, since even if I refuse to act on it, it has already shaped my instincts to the extent that I use words like "reality" to characterize it.

 

It makes me furious when I think about it, until that anger can feel like yet another assault on my freedom.  So I am all the more intent on not ceding this most precious, private space—the space my fantasies occupy. I want a way to talk about these fantasies and explore them that does not automatically cede the parameters to my enemies, those who hurt women in such an appalling, intimate way. They should not have the final say—that rape is always rape. 

 

Originally posted on my blog: http://liliafordromance.blogspot.com/2014/12/is-there-difference-between-non-con-and.html

New Release: College Bound

 

I am totally psyched to announced my new release, College Bound, an erotic contemporary romance. Here is the cover by the amazing Kim Killion of the Killion Group, who also did the cover for The Heartwood Box.   

 

 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the original title for the story was Convenience Store Sex Slave: A Memoir, which hopefully should give a hint of what the subject matter is like. And just to be clear, since I have actually been asked this an astounding number of times, this book is NOT a memoir in any way shape or form. It is completely and totally fictional. 

 

To give a fuller idea of the story, here is the blurb:

 

“I think you would be right for a position with quite specific requirements that would be hard to fill otherwise.”

 

After a vicious fight with her stepbrother and guardian, Natalie storms out of the family McMansion, never imagining that would be the last time she’d be allowed in the house. A string of truly rotten decisions follows, until she finds herself suspended from school, friendless, broke, and camping out at the convenience store where she works. Worst of all, her college applications are due!

 

Thanks to a helpful teacher and her own stupendous brilliance she manages to get into her top choice college. Unfortunately, dealing with the financial aid forms proves to be too much for her supersmarts and she is about to lose her spot because she cannot get the money together to pay the deposit.

 

Enter Gareth Boyd, an old family friend with an indecent proposal that will pay for everything—if she can meet his price.

Believe it or not, I do daydream occasionally that I might someday release a title that does not require a content warning. TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY. So here it is:

Warning: This story features an eighteen-year-old heroine with a foul mouth and horrible judgment, a criminally unscrupulous man intent on taking advantage of her, and multiple scenes of bondage, spanking, ménage, and one potentially triggering scene of attempted rape. The novel is an erotic fantasy in which characters manipulate or disregard notions of proper consent in ways that would never be acceptable in real life. Adult Readers Only.

The only part of the story that might vaguely be called "autobiographical" is that the heroine, Natalie, is a music lover, so I put together a spotify playlist of songs mentioned in the book or that I just imagine the characters listening to. It is named for the New Order song, "Bizarre Love Triangle," which frankly could have been the book's title, so yeah, PERFECT.  The video for that song is surprisingly awesome considering the song was released in 1986.

 

 

 

The playlist as a whole can be found on my website, and also includes New Order's synth masterpiece, "Blue Monday," some Creedence, Cure, and "Oye Come Va" by Tito Puente. 

 

So that about sums up this announcement.  College Bound is currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $2.99.  It should also be available in the future at Kobo, Apple, and in print, at which time I will likely make another announcement. Until then, hope you enjoy!

 

Originally posted on my blog, Readings From the Dark Side.

Queer Romance Month

So we're half way through Queer Romance Month, and I strongly urge you to go over and check out the posts.  There's a huge range of topics, from the pressure to produce happy endings, to the dangers of bi-erasure, to whether there's a market for F/F (Yes, here, please!)  A lot of pieces have given rise to some intense but always constructive comment debates as well.

 

I am proud to announce that my own contribution, "Outside In," is also up.  I plan to repost it here after the event is over, especially since it fits in with my article series on emerging genres, but in the meantime click on over. 

 

And of course there are still two weeks left, which means two more weeks of provocative, moving, joyous tributes to this amazing genre.

 

Badge 2http://www.queerromancemonth.com/

 

Cross posted from my blog, Readings From the Dark Side

 

#Diversiverse: A Review of The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Novel - Karen Lord

 

 

So I was catching up on Booklikes last week and came across a post about an event taking place during the last two weeks of September entitled #Diversiverse hosted by Aarti Chapati’s blog, BookLust, inviting participants to read and review one book by a person of color during the event period. Generally, I don’t pay much attention to the author’s bio unless I’ve interacted with them or if something about the text makes their background or nationality seem relevant.

 

Still, I couldn’t help but be struck by Chapati’s points, first about the general need to immerse yourself in a variety of perspectives—national, religious, ethnic, racial—and second about the importance of making an active, deliberate choice to do so through your reading. As she puts it,

“Reading diversely may require you to change your book-finding habits. It ABSOLUTELY does not require you to change your book reading habits.” 

 

Fortunately for me, the blogger Saturday in Books who'd let me know about the event kindly recommended several titles, in particular Karen Lord's The Best of All Worlds, which she described thus: “Jane Austen Star Trek is all you need to know. Jane. Austen. Star. Trek. People.”

 

Jane Austen (subject of roughly half my dissertation) and Star Trek (I’ve seen every episode of Next Gen. At least twice.) being two of my most enduring and influential cultural reference points, I was instantly sold. And I can’t really say enough in praise of the book. It’s an emotional read, as much for the subtlety and gentleness with which it allows its developing relationships to unfold as for any passion or drama. It also ended up being an excellent choice for this particular event, since this is a story about cultural difference, about the dangers of assimilation put against the urgent need for compromise and discovery of shared values.

 

Reading the story requires patience and attention. The blurb gives a rough—and crucial—background to the story since the narrative prefers to allow the key facts about characters and their world to come to light gradually without anything resembling an info-drop. But at its heart, this is very much a story about exile and resettlement and the ensuing clash of cultures, though “clash” suggests something far noisier and more obvious than what we have here. Instead we are immersed in a world of greys, of hard choices and competing values where questions of right and wrong can only rarely be settled without the sacrifice of an equally worthy principle.

 

The story begins only shortly after the Sadiri home planet has been viciously destroyed. A small group of males have been offered asylum on the planet Cygnus Beta, which has a markedly different culture--as if the survivors of Star Trek’s Planet Vulcan had been forced to settle in the old American west. The Sadiri are desperate to rebuild their lives and preserve their culture yet survival requires intermingling and intermarrying with the local women, which they quickly find is a far more fraught prospect than they’d expected.

 

Lord’s narration is extremely deft in managing the reader’s waffling reactions to the dilemma. There are aspects of the Sadiri culture that the Cygnians (and most readers) understandably find off-putting: their obsession with mental self-discipline, their emotional reserve, their sense of superiority, their inflexibility and obtuseness when faced with the emotional needs of other peoples.

 

As the heroine, Delarua, tries to explain, “we’re all descended from peoples who thought they were kings and gods, and who found themselves to almost nothing in the end. Don’t let that be you.”

 

And yet every time you want to scream and shake one of the Sadiri, you’re forced to pull back: are we really prepared to advise that the survivors of planetary genocide set aside their values, essentially all they have left, for the sake of practicality, or even survival? Especially when every compromise, every sacrifice, furthers the cause of the enemies that tried to exterminate them?

 

The novel uses two traditional devices, a romantic courtship and a physical journey, to document the psychological journey of how these differences are addressed, how through dialogue, introspection, and shared experiences members of these two cultures can find enough common ground to coexist and ultimately flourish.

 

My breakdown makes the narrative sound far more schematic than it is. In fact it proceeds with a remarkable absence of the usual melodrama, speechifying and point-hammering that you might expect to find in this kind of story. Instead the ideas and connections emerge almost invisibly through the sum of many encounters, many scenes, where the point is often not obvious.

 

It might make for a sleepy or dry read but for the remarkable voice of the first-person narrator, Delarua, in turns self-deprecating, professional, vulnerable, humane, heart-broken, insecure, mischievous, and endlessly curious. I’ll just give a few characteristic quotes:

 

If there’s one thing a Cygnian can’t bear, it’s the stench of superiority. Too often it has been the precursor to atrocity and rationale for oppression.

 

Warm tendrils untangled from my nervous system, withdrawing gently but swiftly like the leaf-brush of startled mimosa.

 

A faint smile curved his lips as he looked at me. For a moment, I saw… I don’t know how to explain it, but I saw just a man—not an offworlder, not a foreigner, nor even a colleague and a friend but just a man, relaxed, smiling, glad to be in my company. I felt an odd, fragmenting sensation of suddenly perceiving something differently and having the whole world change as a result.

 

I can’t help comparing this book to Lois Bujold’s Shards of Honor and offering both as evidence of why I like female-authored sci-fi so much. This is an extremely well-written book, with lovely poetic passages, subtle, insightful characterization and a deeply resonant theme; it is also refreshingly free of the ‘chosen one’ grandiosity and superhero antics so typical of sci-fi, and which too often feel designed to appeal to an audience of adolescent boys.

 

Finally, as someone who reads overwhelming in a single genre, M/M romance, Chapati’s event was a timely illustration of how much I've been missing by not forcing myself out of my comfy generic house. So my gratitude to both Chapati for organizing a terrific event and to Karen Lord, for writing a subtle, humorous, lovely and always challenging story about the gifts that come when you look beyond your familiar horizons.

 

http://www.aartichapati.com/search/label/%23diversiverse

 

 

(originally posted on my blog, Readings from the Dark Side)

 

A More Diverse Universe Starts Yesterday

Reblogged from Saturdays in Books:

And I'm apparently behind. 

 

Diverse Universe Challenge Logo

 

Here is the sign up post over at Book Lust. The rules are simple:

 

  • 1. Read and review one book
  • 2. Written by a person of color
  • 3. During the last two weeks of September (September 14th - 27th) 

 

I'm reading Orleans, by Sherri L. Smith

 

 

Because I love all of you dearly, I'm also going to throw out a few super awesome recommendations for anyone else who wants to participate.

 

Middle Grade: Zahrah the Windseeker is the best Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu  book I've read so far. A teenage girls must venture into the jungle to find the cure for a slow poison killing her best friend. AND SHE CAN FLY. Alternately, if you want something not genre, Ana recommended One Crazy Summer and Inside Out and Back Again, which are both pretty good.

 

Fantasy: A Stranger in Olondria is Sofia Samatar's first novel. It was short listed for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and Locus Awards. It just won the British Fantasy Award, and Samatar won this year's Campbell (best new author). Seriously, why haven't you already read this one?

 

Science Fiction: The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord is for some reason not linked to the right Karen Lord on BookLikes, but it's totally the one I linked to. Jane Austen Star Trek is all you need to know. Jane. Austen. Star. Trek. People.

 

Graphic Novel: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood is Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical collection of stories about growing up in Iran. I think graphic novel is my favorite format for biography these days.

 

Happy reading, everyone!

 

COMING IN OCTOBER!  CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE

Adventures with Sterek or WTF?

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So, confession time: I've been reading Teen Wolf fan fiction. Specifically the "Sterek" subgenre, featuring Derek Hale and Stiles Stilinski doin... stuff.

 

And whatever you have to say about that, you can just keep to yourself, thank you very much.

 

Anyway, it's pretty hot. (Okay, some of it is really hot.) But since I'd never watched the show (or the 1985 Michael J. Fox movie), I realized I was missing many of the nuances. Soooooo, I just bought the show's first season and now I'm watching it with my teenaged son.

 

For those curious about the massive universe that is Teen Wolf fan Fiction, here are links to the texts that I have sampled so far:

 

Eat, Knot, Love, by the very talented "pandabomb"

The Worst Thing I Ever Did, by the equally talented "RemainNameless"

 

I am at best a curious bystander in the world of fan fiction, so I am trying, haphazardly but I hope respectfully, to find my way through its terminology and concepts. For what it's worth, the first story listed is "non-canon" (the label used is "alternate universe/no werewolves") in that it borrows the characters from the show, but then creates its own universe with completely different rules, i.e. instead of werewolves people are "Alphas" and "omegas," the latter of which go into "heat," requiring something called "knotting." (If knotting is unfamiliar to you, you'd best get on that ASAP,  because it is a Very Important Concept in fiction featuring werewolves or wolf shifters.)

 

The second story is "canon," meaning it adheres closely to actual plot points within the show, with the small added detail of Stiles and Derek gettin' it on. Needless to say, it was the second which sent me running to I-tunes for back episodes of Teen Wolf.  It's been years since I've watched any TV, let alone a series marathon--most recently for me was March 16-April 5 2009 when my husband and I watched all 77 episodes of Battlestar Galactica. (An experience which bore an alarming and humiliating resemblance to the classic Portlandia episode.)  

 

My son and I are up to episode five, and we only stayed up until 1:15am, which, yeah, is not exactly "world's-greatest-mom" behavior, but fuck it, he doesn't start school for another week, so my husband can just shut up about it and let him enjoy the end of his vacation. Anyway, I can't say Teen Wolf is likely to become the sleep-destroying, world-changing obsession that Battlestar Galactica ended up being in my life, but it does feature a sexily glowering "Alpha" in Tyler Hoechlin's Derek Hale and a fantastic, scene-stealing performance by Dylan O'Brien as Stiles Stilinski.

 

Perhaps most tellingly for me and my evolving relationship to Fan Fiction, Stiles and Derek in their handful of scenes together demonstrate about a bajillion times more chemistry than the official, and depressingly generic, love plot between the titular hero, Scott, and his pouty lady-love, Allison.

 

I'm not sure if it was entirely a coincidence or some unconscious impulse at work, but during the same period I was reading "Eat, Knot, Love," I did pull out a (very dusty) copy of my dissertation which I handed in almost exactly eleven years ago and then immediately shut out of my mind as you would a crappy ex-boyfriend. I stayed up until 4am rereading it, and honestly it wasn't bad. In case you're wondering, it was on free indirect discourse in the novels of Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Henry James, all covered in a mere 6 chapters and 244 pages, not counting the 11 page (single-spaced) bibliography.

 

No one will ever know the lurid, terrifying tale of how I got from Sense and Sensibility to Sterek fan fiction, which involves 100-year-old vampires, nubile virgins, and a werewolf's destined mate... Okay fine--you can just read my "It all started with Twilight" post.  Go ahead and laugh--I'm not going to stop you.  I'm too busy loading up Teen Wolf season one, episode 6, "Heart Monitor": apparently Stiles isn't speaking to Scott because of the wolf attack on Stiles' dad, and then Derek tells Scott he may have to give up Allison in order to control his changes!  OMFG!

 

Originally posted on my blog; http://liliafordromance.blogspot.com/2014/08/my-life-or-wtf.html

Games Boys Play by Zoe Rider

Games Boys Play - Zoe X. Rider

 

I was pleasantly surprised by how strong I thought this was. I've noted in other reviews how certain books really fit my idea of a good, solid example of erotic fiction, and this book absolutely does.

 

In erotic fiction, as opposed to contemporary or other genres with some (or a lot) of erotic content, the main focus of the story is almost completely on the erotic relationship and, usually, on sex. Many of us use the "porn-without-plot" label to designate those books where not much happens except sex, or, for me especially, where I don't find the sex and erotic relationship interesting enough to carry a book.

 

I call Games Boys Play "erotic fiction", because the overwhelming focus of the story is on Dylan and Brian's experiments with bondage fantasies. The other aspects of the story grow out of it--how Brian, the book's narrative center, feels about the escalating intensity and elaborateness of their acts, his understandable worries about how his feelings towards Dylan might be changing, hidden aspects of his own personality that come to light, and so on.

 

For me, strong, insightful erotic writing explores how sex and intimacy change you. The kind of acts that sometimes get labelled "kinkery" are not there just to titillate or shock, but because those acts, and the desires that provoke them, have the potential to force people to confront assumptions about themselves, inhibitions, illusions, fears, self-deceptions. There is a nakedness to complete helplessness, both for the individual and the dynamic between two people, that makes certain habitual deceptions and comfortable assumptions impossible. When done intelligently and sensitively, it can also make for a great read--which this book emphatically is.

 

My only qualm was that I wanted more on Dylan. We are only given Brian's perspective, which I thought was very well done and insightful. But Dylan, despite the not-very-revealing "reveal" towards the end, remained a mystery. Rider does a wonderful job hinting at Dylan's motives and the kinds of desires that would lead him to go as far as he does. You get the impression that in a way he has even less control or self-knowledge than Brian does, which is a really cool twist, and a relief from the very irritating and ubiquitous "all-knowing Dom teaches the repressed sub what he truly wants" dynamic in most D/s fiction. There is a sense that Dylan is making some quite uncomfortable discoveries about what he likes--which strikes me as authentic. If I suddenly discovered how much I wanted to backhand my closest friend and business partner, I would have a lot of soul searching to do. (There was a similarity here to Lana McGregor's His Roommate's Pleasure, which I also really admired, but there are a lot of hints that Dylan is more conflicted than Josh in that story, which I thought added a lot of intriguing complexity.)

 

 

But I did end up feeling more teased than satisfied by what we did learn about Dylan. The revelation that Dylan is gay, and has been hiding it all along, did not really cut it for me. The whole story feels like it's leading up to a relationship between Brian and Dylan, so the reader is already expecting some kind of gay-for-you or similar revelation. The fact that Dylan is gay felt a lot less momentous than that he's willing to go to such incredible amounts of trouble to play out these elaborate kidnapping fantasies--and with Brian of all people. Where are these feelings coming from? Has he explored them before? His orientation also felt a lot less momentous than the fact that he'd kept his sexuality hidden, which in our day and age actually requires an explanation. Keep it hidden from fans, perhaps, but friends and family? We're not told they're raging homophobes or fundamentalists, so it says a lot about Dylan that he chose that route rather than just coming out--I believed it, but I wanted more about why. The prolonged secrecy from his loved ones seems to tie into the kidnapping and domination fantasies, which struck me as incredibly fertile ground for exploration. Perhaps because most books focus on the sub and his or her motivations, I found Dylan more unexpected and provocative than Brian (not that Brian's in any way lacking), so I just wanted more of Rider's great insights into what makes him tick.

(show spoiler)

 

Bottom line: I really recommend this. It's a very hot read--hooray!--but also a great example of what erotic fiction can, and at its best, should do, which is explore depths and complexities in the characters that could never be revealed in any other way.

 

 

Rating: FOUR Stars

 

(Originally posted on Goodreads: Link to Amazon)

"My Summer" by Lilia

As the camp (meaning child-free) season winds down, I thought I’d do up a little report of my summer.  Needless to say, it has been non-stop parties, adventures, thrilling car chases, and exotic travel--exactly like every summer.  Yeah right. 

 

First off, I got Pet to the Tentacle Monsters! launched into the world where she must now make her way without further parental input.

 

While the story has not quite made the bestseller list yet, I have gotten some great reactions to it. One reviewer actually called it "Goldilocks for the Depraved"--which as you can imagine pretty much made my year. 

 

Second off, I finally finished and sent to my proofreader a novel that I have been working on sporadically since 2009, my first ever work of erotic fiction, a contemporary ménage that spent most of its existence with the title, Convenience Store Sex Slave! A Memoir. Deciding that title was a little too low-key and elegant for Amazon, I have, reluctantly, renamed it College Bound. (Lisa Henry has a great post on the problems authors run into trying to sell books with explicit titles on Amazon. )

 

Here is my most recent draft of the blurb:

 

After a vicious fight with her stepbrother and guardian, Natalie storms out of the family McMansion, never imagining that would be the last time she’d be allowed in the house. A string of truly rotten decisions follows, until she finds herself suspended from school, friendless, broke, and camping out at the convenience store where she works. Worst of all, her college applications are due!

 

Thanks to a helpful teacher and her own stupendous brilliance she manages to get into her top choice college. Unfortunately, dealing with the financial aid forms proves to be too much for her supersmarts and she is about to lose her spot because she cannot get the money together to pay the deposit.

 

Enter Gareth Boyd, an old family friend, with an indecent proposal that will pay for everything—if she can meet his price.

 

I have ordered a new cover, but here, for the sake of posterity, is the cover with the original title:

 

 

 

 

I expect that the final blurb will include a long content warning, since in addition to starring an extremely foul-mouthed 18-year-old heroine, the story includes ménage, a strongly “Dubcon” premise, and scenes of both nonconsensual intercourse and attempted rape. It also seems clear that I will need to write another blog post on this issue, in particular laying out why within the context of erotic fiction I regard "dub/noncon" and "rape" as distinct entities, though I would never make that argument about real life.

 

 

On a lighter note, I have redone my website, and I’m pretty sure this one looks a lot better than the old one. If you’ve OD’d on your daily diet of kitten videos and internet quizzes, go on over—I promise my site will help you waste at least another 90 seconds of your day. Here’s the link:

 

http://www.liliafordromance.com/

 

 

One thing I did add was a “WIP” page. For those of you who have been breathless for news about my current projects but are unwilling to expend the effort of clicking the link, here is a summary.

 

 

Title: College Bound

Genre: Contemporary/MMF ménage

Stage: Final editing

 

 

 

Title: Collared Prince and Other Tales

Genre: M/M alternative history

Stage: 40,000 words

 

 

 

Title: The Demon Lords of Oxford

Genre: M/M Fantasy

Stage: 15,000 words

 

 

 

Title: A Biddable Witch

Genre: Erotic Fantasy

Stage: 85,000 words

 

Book 1: Blood of Adonis

Prequel to The Heartwood Box: A Fairy Tale

 

 

 

Title: Classified Defiant

Genre: M/M Sci-fi

Stage: 6000 words

Prequel to The Slave Catcher

 

That's about it for my incredible, thrill-a-minute summer so far.  I'm probably going to see Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend, which does count as "going out," right?  Well, leaving my apartment at least.  And I have not lost hope that I will at least step foot on a beach during the month of August 2014.  Hope you guys are all having at least 45% more fun than me.  Stay Cool.

 

Originally posted on my blog: http://liliafordromance.blogspot.com/2014/07/my-summer-by-lilia.html

New Release: Pet to the Tentacle Monsters!

I am overjoyed to announce that my newest masterpiece, Pet to the Tentacle Monsters! is now live. First off, here is the amazing cover by Jared Rackler.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the blurb:

 

It’s been more than twelve years since the alien invasion wiped out much of the human population and forced those who were left into Refugee Communes. As far as Benji Tucker is concerned, a life devoted to bare survival is boring as hell. But when a stupid prank threatens to bring disaster down on the entire commune, the Galactic Enforcers show up and announce Benji is now eligible for adoption—by the invaders!

 

He wakes in a plain white cell to find three very different monsters determined to make him their pet.

 

 

And just so we're all clear on the subject matter, here is the content warning:

 

Warning: Adult Readers Only. Contains plenty of hot, non-consensual tentacle action, including but not limited to tentacle spanking, tentacle gagging, and tentacle-sex. Quite separately, it also contains an adorable pink-rainbow-sparkle tentacle monster. Those who dislike adorable pink rainbow sparkles or hot tentacle action should definitely not read this book.

 

As usual, I have done up a Pinterest Board for the story, which includes my casting choice for the hero, Benji Tucker. (Hint: he just starred in the movie The Fault in our Stars). There are also some cool pictures of tentacles, some wacky 1950s movie posters that were the inspiration for Jared's cover design, and anything else that struck me as appropriately Tentacley (or is it Tentaclesque?)

 

For those open to the more, ahem, probing imagery associated with the tentacle genre, especially that special marriage between tentacles and yaoi, I have also posted a select group of NSFW mages on Tumblr. (That means XXX-rated, Dad!) Examine at your own risk.

 

Pet to the Tentacle Monsters! is currently on sale for $2.99 at Amazon, Kobo Books, and Barnes & Noble.

 

Great essay by David Gaughran warning against the abuses by "Author Solutions"

Must read for anyone contemplating self-publishing.

More incisive thoughts on negative reviewing from 3Rs. Cruel to be Kind: Why refusing to write negative reviews is not a virtue

At long last, I've finished my blog post.  I've only been working on it for months.

 

...honestly, the end kind of petered out on me there, but hopefully it still reads well.

 

As always, I'm very interested in your thoughts.

Fuck my life.

Reblogged from Derrolyn Anderson:

The apotheosis of the bitchy ex-girl-friend, or a review of Shattered Glass

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The biggest disadvantage of reading so many books so quickly is that the clichés, like thrusting alpha males, tend to come hard and fast. They are more obvious and annoying in bulk. My background doesn’t help since I’ve been trained to identify and analyze literary patterns. And much as I love romance and erotica, they are definitely genres that are strongly driven by familiar conventions. Some like the Happy Ever After I don’t mind (because honestly what’s the point of reading a romance with a downer ending?)

 

Other conventions are more dubious, however. Villains are an especially weak point in most romance novels. An inordinate number of romance heroines (and heroes) suffer from obsessed, crazy, abusive ex-boyfriends-turned-stalkers. They are also commonly cursed with narcissistic, overly skinny, conventionally gorgeous mothers and/or sisters, who make their lives hell. (Though luckily, they usually have eccentric but loving grandmothers to make up for it.)

 

Shattered Glass, Dani Alexander’s superb debut novel, tells the story of Austin Glass (also the narrator), who discovers in the first scene that he is very attracted to a young man. The problem is that Austin is not only straight, but about to get married--to Angelica. By the rules of the genre, Angelica will have to be dumped, and our initial impression is a hearty “good riddance.” She’s a walking compendium of nightmare girlfriend attributes: Almost her first words to Austin are, “Just park anywhere. You can afford the ticket.” She’s a super wealthy trust fund baby, whom Austin describes as “elegant and beautiful.” She’s also a total Bridezilla, having changed the color scheme for their wedding six times and made Austin order five different suits from a custom tailor. Most ominously of all, she’s a LAWYER, and not just a lawyer, but a “barracuda” and workaholic.

 

In the land of romance conventions, a woman like this exists for two reasons, to drive the plot by creating obstacles for the real couple and to make clear how the new love is a more genuine, lovable, completely superior human being. To achieve the first end, she stalks, persecutes, or deceives the hero and/or his new love. To achieve the second end, she compulsively watches her weight and wears expensive designer clothes.

 

But here’s the thing: Angelica is not a villain or even a bitch. None of our first impressions are fair or tell us who she is. Among other things, she’s Austin’s best and most loyal friend in the world; far from persecuting the new love, Peter, she puts aside her own pain at her break-up with Austin to save Peter’s foster brother, which she is able to do because she’s a kick-ass defense attorney. She is decent, honorable, and smart. Her money and beauty are part who she is, certainly, but do not make her an awful person. Austin describes himself as the “douchebag of the year” towards her, and he’s not exaggerating. That’s exactly the right term for a man who dumps his girlfriend of three years, eight weeks before their wedding.

 

Alexander’s approach is artistically a triumph, but it is also deeply ethical. Angelica is not the only character in this novel who defies easy assumptions. In a move she repeats again and again in this novel, Dani Alexander sets up a stereotype only to add nuances and complications until it is no longer recognizable. The evil-ex, the homophobic father, even the gang-banger rapist are portrayed as actual human beings with good and bad qualities.

 

It parallels the hero, Austin’s, own trajectory of discovering all-of-a-sudden at age 26 that he’s gay. “Not bisexual. Not a passing interest in someone of the same sex. Straight--so to speak--to gay.” Austin’s brilliantly funny snarkiness is both true to him and deeply misleading, a cover for the wrenching upheaval he undergoes over the course of the novel, as he is forced to reevaluate and jettison just about every assumption he’d made about his life, past, present, and future.

 

There’s another parallel here: with the romance form itself, a genre that has been marginalized and dismissed because of longstanding assumptions about its readers (many of them relentlessly cultivated by the old established publishers of these works). With the advent of indie-publishing, their reign is over. Like Austin, both readers and writers of erotica and romance are waking up, accepting our desires, proudly coming out of the closet. We are emphatically more than we seem—as evidence of this I offer the novel Shattered Glass.

 

(Originally posted on my blog: http://liliafordromance.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-apotheosis-of-bitchy-ex-girl-friend.html)

Dear Author on "Where Has the Fun Gone"

Reblogged from Bark's Book Nonsense:

More on the topic of reader reviews from Janet at Dear Author, reposted with thanks to Barks and Bites.

 

Great level headed letter of opinion that's a must read for most of us - whether you read romance or not.