Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lisa Henry is a Nice Person and Australian Words Are Real: A Public Apology

Given how publicly I have, in the past, declared my disdain for certain Australian words and phrases after working with Lisa Henry, it seems only right that I make my apology public as well. You see, up until this point, I have enjoyed poking fun at Australia's "made up" words. At their dating and measurement systems, their seasons, and their way of spelling things. I have scoffed at concepts like the "Freddo frog" and the "bottle shop." Even earlier this month, when Lisa was a guest on this blog, I slipped a somewhat snide comment into her introduction about her tendency to promise me imaginary chocolate. The lack of Freddo frogs in my life was, I assumed, proof that they were made up. Like didgeridoos and lemurs.

I am here today to admit that I was wrong. You see, Australian words are very real. Just as real as American words, if not more so. Whatever I may have tweeted or facebooked or blogged in the past, I understand this now. And I want to offer my most heartfelt apologies to Lisa Henry and the great nation of Australia.

To show how sincere I am, I have compiled a list of specific things I would like to apologise for. Australia...I hope you're listening.

*unfolds list, clears throat, and begins to read*

J.A. Rock's List of Apologies and Concessions to Australia

-"Firies" is a good word for firemen.
-You probably do not actually call graham crackers "foodle doodles."
-Your national vocabulary does not sound, as I once proclaimed, "like a Dr. Seuss book."
-"Jelly" is a totally legitimate term for Jell-o.
-I would love to park my car in the car park.
-I support you in the de-sexing of all your pets.
-I will take one flat white, please. Because that's coffee--not paint.
-I will pay for my flat white with a note. Or notes. (I don't know how many notes it will cost).
-Your way of dating things makes total sense.
-Why not have summer in January?
-Gas is when you fart. Petrol is what you put in your car.
-There are more than three Australian actors of consequence.
-I realise that if we keep overusing the letter Z it will no longer be the most coveted letter in Scrabble. So let's use S's where we can.
-Celsius!!!

I hope, Australia and Lisa, that you will accept my apologies. Differences make the world go round. And the International Date Line is not some longitudinal TARDIS that causes Australians to time travel. Australian, American...we're all just people, existing on opposite sides of the planet, on different days of the calendar year, but eating the same jelly and tossing the leftovers in the same bins and using the same portaloos. Figuratively speaking.

And now, I'm off to finish the bag of Freddo frogs that arrived in the mail today from Australia along with the Mark Cooper Versus America contract.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lisa Henry is a Dirty Temptress (and other news)


Lisa Henry and I recently finished writing our fourth book together. It’s a sequel to The Good Boy. We also got a contract on a book called Mark Cooper Versus America. More on that in a minute. Plus we’ll be starting edits soon on When All the World Sleeps, a novel due out from Riptide in early 2014.

So at this point, I’m thinking I deserve a vacation in Nuweiba. Two months long at least, involving cabana boys, and during which I exist in a near-constant state of being massaged.

But then Lisa goes and e-mails me that she has a shiny new idea. And of course nothing is more exciting than New Idea e-mails. And here’s the thing. Not only does Lisa have a new idea—she wants us to plot it out before we write it.


You have to understand, if I could describe our writing process in a single word, it would be “unscripted.” Or possibly “unsober.” We don’t plan. We don’t plot. We’re both wildly disorganized. There was a weird moment before we started When All the World Sleeps when Lisa tried to show me something called a nine-grid plan. I just assumed she’d been spending too much time with the awesome Heidi Belleau and politely ignored it. And then we pantsed the crap out of WAtWS.

But when Lisa told me this new idea, I understood why we might need to plan it out before writing. So we downloaded some character charts. I dug out my old, unread copy of Plot & Structure to study that freak-ass plotty triangle. And we got to planning.

And you know what? Planning’s really fun. Fun in a whole different way from pantsing. I told Lisa this bout of organization had inspired me to change my wall calendar from June to August, but she told me not to get crazy. So it's still on June.

One step at a time. Today, plotting a novel in advance. Tomorrow...I'll have one of those little books people write the shit they need to do in.

So here’s what's coming out in the next few months:

MARK COOPER VERSUS AMERICA

Lisa and I used this book as free therapy to get over the damaging things we’ve said to one another about our respective countries and English vernaculars. An Australian boy moves to America to attend college, and finds himself homesick, pledging the campus’s douchiest frat, and in love with a guy from a rival fraternity. Also, here’s your chance to see Lisa not treating characters heinously! Nothing all that horrible happens to either of the main characters, and it was way fun to write.

WHEN ALL THE WORLD SLEEPS

Formerly Under, this might be my favorite collaboration, if I’m allowed to have favorites. I mean, my mom has a favorite child, and it's definitely not me, so I feel okay about having favorite book babies. WAtWS is the story of a man with a serious sleepwalking disorder who, in his sleep, kills the guy who gay bashed him years ago and becomes a pariah in his tiny southern town. Until he gets a local cop on his side. Creepy, dark, claustrophobic—all of my favorite things. There’s blurbs and stuff over at Lisa’s place. (Do you see why I can’t plan? I’m too lazy to even paste.)

Hopefully the Good Boy sequel—tentatively titled THE BOY WHO BELONGED—will be in there somewhere as well. It’s a Christmas story about Lane and Derek bird-sitting Mr. Zimmerman while Lane attempts to deal with some family drama involving his imprisoned mother. A nice balance of fun and angst. And anginas.

And a solo project, if you're interested in gay not-exactly-romance...

THE SILVERS

This is a book I wrote before J.A. Rock existed. It’s being published under a different name, because while it is about two men, it’s not erotic, or BDSM, or particularly romantic. The Silvers is spec fic about a guy who captains the first crewed mission to a new planet and finds a race of humanlike creatures with major gaps in their emotional spectrum. He falls for one of the creatures who has learned to imitate human emotion, and they embark on a pseudo-relationship without really being able to tell if what they feel for each other is real. It’s got a different feel from my romance writing, but if you like darkness and sci fi and don’t mind an ambiguous ending and lack of sex, I’ll definitely link to my alter ego’s page when I know the release date, etc.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Adventures After Dark: Savannah Nights XXX


Authors After Dark was a lot of fun. It was my first con ever, so I don’t know how it stacks up to others, but considering there was a bouncy castle, little plastic monkeys with penises, a dildo ring toss, discussions of Ent sex, costume parties, and a corset and tattoo salon, I feel like I picked the right con to start with.

It was in Savannah, a city I’ve been obsessed with since I stumbled upon a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good Evil a few years ago. I roomed with Jay of Joyfully Jay, and we decided we should probably take a Segway tour of the city before the con started. I told my mom I was doing that, and she said, “Why don’t you wear a fanny pack while you’re at it?”
Maybe I will, Mom. Maybe I will.



Okay, so it’s hard to look cool on a Segway. Unless you’re Gob Bluth. But I was pretty blown away by the sheer sexiness of this picture of us in our helmets. We are also—though it may not be evident--sweating profusely in this photo. And profusely would be an understatement. Savannah’s a little warm this time of year.








Some of the panels were really cool. I liked learning about zombies, muses, why there’s not so much LBT in GLBT romance, and more. I also got to meet fellow m/m authors Anne Tenino, K.C. Wells, Tibby Armstrong, Kiernan Kelly, B.A. Tortuga, Julia Talbot, Lori Toland, and Brien Michaels, as well as Sarah Frantz, Rachel Haimowitz, and Stephanie Grober of the Riptide crew and the ladies behind Less Than Three Press. And lots of other fun people. Anne crocheted a beautiful rainbow colored penis and gave me a book!

My fangirl writer crush Katey Hawthorne was there as a featured author, and did an awesome job helping to sponsor the Elementals Ball, where I got a picture with these two girls whose costumes for every single party were SO GOOD!!

I have a new satyr friend!
The night of the carnival, I raced Jay and Brien Michaels on the bouncy castle obstacle course. It was some serious Legends of the Hidden Temple shit, and I managed to rugburn the tops of both feet going down the slide on my knees. The wounds goozed for a couple of days. On the third day, Jay helpfully pointed out that they looked pretty infected. So I am now home treating wounds sustained on a bouncy castle. If that doesn’t speak to a successful con, I don’t know what does. I also got to gently nipple-fondle a cardboard cutout of Ian Somerhalder.

Brien Michaels looks sweet, but he is a beast on the bouncy castle!
Jay and I gently fondle.
The night of the Vampire Ball, there was an accidental recreation of the Bridesmaids movie poster. Definitely my favorite picture of the weekend.

From L to R: Stephanie Grober, Anne Tenino, Jay, Me, Katey Hawthorne
Kiernan Kelly gave Jay a little monkey-with-penis keychain that I had to hide my envy of. Apparently I didn’t hide it very well, because Kiernan went and got me one too. Then we made the monkeys do this.


Okay, so maybe it sounds like I didn't do much networking/professional stuff this week. And that's true. But I did learn a lot. And besides, monkey penises! Also, Lisa Henry and I got a contract on a new book, which I'll be telling you about soon. And we just got an idea for another book, which we're plotting right now, so I'd better go...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

So...Is This Mess Mine?

My plan the day after DD Week ended was to do a nice little wrap up, announce the giveaway winners, and basically tidy up around the place. Instead I left for the Authors After Dark Conference in Savannah. I got back yesterday, and it felt like the morning after a party, when you look around your house and see half empty wine glasses filled with dead fruit flies, bowls of chip crumbs, strangers passed out on your couch, etc.

So I'm going to start the housekeeping process.

First of all, thank you to everyone who helped with DD Week. I loved hosting so many fun guests, and I appreciated people's thoughtful comments. I'm especially glad to have enjoyed DD Week, because I thought Shark Week was abysmal this year. Too many megalodons.

The winners of the giveaways last week were:

Cara Bristol: Renee
Fabian Black: Yvette
Pauline Allan: Rosie
Lori Toland: Marie
Kay Berrisford: Cynthia
Lisa Henry: Chris

Congratulations!

The posts from DD Week will be archived on the Interviews page of the blog, along with the excerpts and DD information.

My plan for the next few days is to share a little of what I learned at Authors After Dark. And by "what I learned" I mean "pictures of little plastic monkeys doing dirty things to each other." There are already some pretty classy pictures up on Joyfully Jay's facebook page.

I'll also be posting updates on some new co-written projects with Lisa Henry that will be coming your way soon!

But right now, I just want to sleep for hours and hours.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lisa Henry Closes Out Domestic Discipline Week with a Guest Post and Giveaway


It's the last day of Domestic Discipline Week. Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by to contribute thoughts on domestic discipline and, of course, sharks. Last but certainly not least this week, we have a guest post and giveaway from my co-writer Lisa Henry. Lisa says things really well, which is probably why I love writing with her. That and she promises me some weird Australian kind of chocolate frog when we finish something. Which is actually unspeakably cruel, because the chocolate never materializes. Yet I keep slaving away in hopes that one day it will. 

Don't forget to check out all of this week's interviews and giveaways. There are links on the lefthand sidebar, and all of the giveaways are still going on. There's also an intro to DD, a glossary, DD-themed excerpts, and resources if you want to learn more about the lifestyle, or read more DD fiction. Thanks again for coming by, and I'll turn it over to Lisa now!

Domestic Discipline. It feels strange to be writing about this on JA’s blog, since her book By His Rules was the first time I’d actually read any Domestic Discipline. By which, for the purposes of this post, I mean discipline administered by one partner to another, without a sexual payoff.

And at first I was all. “Whaaat? If there’s a spanking in the offing, there had damn well better be a reward at the end.”

Sexual kink, I totally get. This...



But then I thought about it.

Does anyone remember the show Men Behaving Badly? There was a scene there where Gary was explaining to Dorothy’s nephew that in every relationship, there was a silly person and a policeman. And it was the job of the policeman to keep a lid on the silly person. Dorothy, of course, was the policeman.

It’s strange, uncharted territory for most of us, because we’re conditioned to think that relationships are partnerships (which of course they are) and that partnerships are equal (which of course, they aren’t always).

In your relationship, it’s very likely that someone is in charge of cooking, someone is in charge of the money, and someone is in charge of remembering to put fuel in the car. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and partnerships find a balance. And it’s not always an equal balance. We negotiate. Each partner brings something different to the table. Which is great, let me tell you, because I’m sure as hell not mowing the lawn. Or doing the ironing. But I will make sure the pets are fed and the bills are paid (more or less) on time.

So imagine for a second there is more of a division of roles there. Imagine there are rules. What if it really is one partner’s job to be the silly person, and one partner’s job to be the policeman? Well, in DD, that policeman is also likely to be judge, jury and executioner when it comes to discipline.

We’re also conditioned to think that discipline, as in spanking or the removal of privileges, belongs in a parent/child relationship, and not in a relationship between adult partners. And it is sometimes difficult to imagine it between adults, because we also imagine a complete power imbalance that exists there as it does between a parent and a child. But as anyone with knowledge of D/s relationships knows, it’s not that simple.

BDSM 101: the sub is the one who actually holds the power.

Parenting 101: if the kid actually holds the power, you’re in trouble.

Two very different scenarios.

So the reward in a DD scene might not be sexual. What it is, for those who might sometimes need a policeman in their lives, is a reminder of the boundaries. The knowledge that there will be consequences. And the reaffirmation that they’re not being ignored, that someone is actually in control of this crazy ride called a relationship, and that, above all, they are loved.

And for the policeman? That need for order, that need for trust, and the gift of their partner’s submission.

It looks like a power imbalance. It isn’t.

DD relationships are as loving as any others based on trust and respect. And love isn’t always sexual. Love is how we live our lives, day in and day out.


And now, the giveaway! Comment on this post for a chance to win your choice of Lisa's backlist titles. Check out your options on her website. Contest will close at 11:59 p.m. EST on August 13th.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Kay Berrisford Gets Real About Spanking: A DD Week Interview


It’s the last DD Week interview, but not the last day of DD Week. Things come to a close tomorrow with a guest post and giveaway from Lisa Henry! And there's still time to enter all the giveaways. Cara Bristol, Fabian Black, and Pauline Allan's contests close at 11:59 p.m. EST on the 10th. Lori Toland's closes 11:59 on the 12th. And if you missed Wednesday's interview with real life Femdom couple Michelle and John, check it out here

Kay Berrisford is back on my blog today! It’s the third time I’ve forced—er, invited her to visit, because I so enjoy her work. Kay’s characters don’t have DD relationships, since they’re usually busy fighting epic internal and external battles in far away lands during long ago times. But there’s always some spanking in her work, and sometimes elements of discipline. I knew Kay would be a good person to talk to about…well, spanking. She’s also giving away a title of your choice from her backlist. 

All right, Kay. We’ve been in each other’s interview chairs before, and we agree we both love spanking--in fiction, at least. What is it about spanking? I was going to make that question more specific, but I don’t think I want to. So that’s the question: What is it about spanking?

It feels sooooooooooo good!  Lovely squirmy, burny, slappy, gaspy fun. Um, okay, that’s not a very useful answer for the uninitiated. I love writing spanking, because to me, it can be a teeny iteration from sex itself, another form of lovemaking. Finding the right language to evoke all those wonderful sensations of pleasure and pain, and how both can be equally good, is a juicy adventure —and of course, you can orgasm from a spanking, and not just in fiction.

I enjoy describing spanking most from a sub’s perspective, but find it fascinating from both (or more) participants’ viewpoints. In my books, spanking often comes at a climactic moment in the plot, when the two protagonists can’t or won’t admit their growing bond and the tension is simmering toward breaking point (see Bound for the Forest and Bound to the Beast!) The spanking sends those characters on a roller-coaster ride of emotion, at the end of which they can’t help but have transformed—or at least shifted— their understandings of each other’s needs and the connection between them. Spanking can be so wonderfully intimate.

Oh, and it’s hot, and soooo carnal. What’s sexier than a naked sub squirming over a dom’s lap? Added bondage is fun but optional for me. I love the squirming. Can ya tell?

I also love the squirming, Kay.  I also love the squirming.

Your characters often survive abusive situations, and I know you’ve mentioned this sometimes interferes with their ability to enjoy kinky games. What are your qualms as a writer about having abused characters engage in consensual kink? Any plans to write a story where no one’s been tortured and so there are no barriers to the characters enjoying pages upon pages of fun-time kink?

Haha, yes, this is a bit of an issue. In Lord of the Forest, I tortured Cal (and Robin) to hell and back. Though their future relationship was screaming out to be DD, and I wrote a scene hinting along those lines, I knew it would take a very long time for them to be in the right place mentally (plus, the story is set in the thirteenth century, so they wouldn’t have all the modern reference points of BDSM to help them understand and rationalize what they wanted.) That said, they totally lived happily ever after in DD heaven in my imagination.  If I ever write a sequel, maybe I’ll explore that. How the heck would a medieval DD relationship work, when everyone around is, er, getting medieval on each other?

Anyway, to answer the rest of your question—yes, I totally need to write some fun-time kink! I think my latest WIP is getting closer to that (involving a prudish warrior-turned-librarian being ordered to find a sex slave for a young and rather brattish king.) There’s some serious angst there, but the fun side of spanking is getting closer.

Sometimes I want to write a story where a character is behaving like a total brat, so the other character just takes him OTK and starts spanking, John Wayne style. But I have too many hang ups about consent, so my spankees always okay the idea of spanking first. On one hand, the romance genre seems like the perfect place to explore fantasies like the surprise spanking. On the other, romance also seems like a genre that asks its lead characters to be more morally sound than characters in other genres—and spanking someone without asking is not cool in real life. What are your feelings on having characters do things that are hot on page but wouldn’t fly in reality?

Oh God, we share a brain/conscience on this one. Spanking John Wayne style sounds totally hot, but I’ve not gone there.
 
In the climatic spanking scenes I was referring to in answer 1, I usually have the sub initiating the action to avoid this, and it’s not so much about “punishment”—though, particularly in Bound for the Forest, Scarlet is being very bratty and provocative and fishing for chastisement—as that outpouring of pent-up passion and a beginning of unity. When I wrote my second book featuring Bound to the Beast’s Herne and Tam (Locking Horns) the spanking scene comes when the issues are resolved, thus the act wavers between being punishment for Tam’s bratiness and a celebration of their love, and frankly, it’s more of the latter. Plus, Herne had earlier promised Tam a spanking as a reward!  I’d love to write Herne the Hunter doling out a good ol’ John Wayne-style spanking on Tam when Tam’s not begging for it and totally deserves it—however, it’s never going to be totally raw, as those two have already reached a level of negotiated pre-consent.

Would I break those rules and go all out without the pre-contract, as it were? Yeah, maybe. With the right characters in the right place. I’ve not found that place yet, though.

You’re a history major. What has been the most spank-friendly era of history?

Agh, this is where I’m all sad I’m on the other side of the world in Australia rather at home in the UK with my lovely books around me! As far as British history goes, the Georgians were totally into spanking, and we have evidence of brothels catering to those needs from at least the eighteenth century onward (there might be some evidence from the Restoration period too, but don’t quote me on it!) I’ve read somewhere about posture girls, who were paid to show off their bottoms to be spanked, and Georgian porn was also rather bottom and spank friendly. And then there were the Victorians and their public schools and their canes (see below…)

To be honest, though, there’s probably some sort of historical correlation between the decline in real and nasty corporal punishments and the amount of people working out that some forms of “chastisement” can be fun. So I’d say today’s probably the best time for a good spank!

Woohoo! You heard her, everybody. Go out and get yo bad self spanked!

As a historian and a resident of the UK, can you explain to me the British infatuation with canes? I love it, but British spanking videos are so funny to me, because regardless of what the spankee has done, whether they’ve hijacked a train or snuck a bit of chocolate before dinner, it’s always like, “SIX OF THE BEST.”

Oh, heavens, it’s all about our repressed public school fantasies (public schools being, conversely, the very expensive private schools of our glorious isles, the most famous being the ancient institutions of Eton, Harrow, Winchester, etc.)

Okay, so back in the “good old days,” public school boys would get the cane when they misbehaved. Yes, you know this bit. SIX OF THE BEST. My “other half” started at public school preps in the dying days of such traditions (the 1980s) though the punishment threatened there was the slipper, and he was never naughty enough to experience this.

The cane, however, is just the icing on a big, current stuffed cake of public schools’ repressed homoeroticism, and frankly, BDSM-saturated traditions. For example, it wasn’t just the school masters who got to dole out the spanking. So the legends tell us, older boys (often prefects) would be allowed to take younger boys as their minions (fags) and punish them pretty much at whim, anything from a caning to warming their toilet seat (or bed!)

One of the last classic texts relaying this tradition is Roald Dahl’s biography, Boy. Both my “other half” and I can confess to getting a bit hot under the collar at the lurid caning scenes when we read this book as kids. Yes, it is a children’s book, but many a good British children’s school story contains bare arse spanking scenes.  And you wonder why we turned out so odd!

I love Boy! And not just for those scenes, I swear…

I’m interested in the idea of non-erotic spanking, because it seems to me that disciplinees do get something pleasurable out of spanking, even if they don’t like the physical sensation. Do you think discipline—spanking or otherwise—can still be effective in teaching a lesson or modifying a behavior if the disciplined party gets something erotic out of it?

Yes, I think so.  I don’t have a DD relationship, as it’s not a dynamic that suits me and my partner, but it is something I would consider, most likely with another woman (though it’s kind of interesting that I say that, because I seem to have removed the dynamic of gender difference to make it easier for myself. Seeing as I believe in loving the *person* rather than their gender, it shouldn’t matter what they identify as, should it?)

Spanking, as you say, doesn’t have to be erotic, and it’s the spectrums of emotion/responses it evokes that render it so compelling.  If you’re not finding it pleasurable, spanking can make you feel humiliated and small, and at the same time, safe and comforted.  The sensations, whether pain or just the rude awakening, can maybe pull you back from an extreme emotional state you didn’t want to be in but couldn’t escape from alone. In a pre-negotiated situation—where both partners have agreed these are power dynamics they want to visit—I think spanking could be part of a healthy relationship, both as titillation and as a form of chastisement/comfort.

Very nice. I love that juxtaposition--that something humiliating can also be comforting. 

Your Shark Week Question:

A sharknado is coming, and you’ve been invited to a secret shark-proof shelter, where you will have to stay until Ian Ziering starts jumping into sharks’ mouths and cutting them open with chainsaws. You can only bring two books with you. What do you bring?

Oh, can’t I bring my kindle? Hmmm, okay, that’s probably cheating, plus the battery might drain down the electricity supplies in the secret shark-proof shelter.

Yeah, your kindle battery is dead. You forgot to charge it before the sharknado hit.

Okay. This is hard. I guess I’d pick one big fat old classic I’ve not read for a bit (maybe Vanity Fair? Or even Lord of the Rings?) I’ve not read enough looong Russian novels or plays, Chekhov etc., but they’d probably get me so depressed I’ll go throw myself into the nearest pair of chompy shark jaws. So yes, choice one…*makes decision*…Bleak House. It’s nearly brick-like enough to wedge some shark mouths apart with.

Choice two. Something hot with some emotional punch. Haha, maybe The Good Boy? Ooooh, no, can I have J.A and Lisa’s new one, then I’ve got something I’ve not read, so I can stick in my earplugs, blot out all the screams and munching from without, and have a good read?

Lisa and I need to find a way to blurb this on the back of our next book. “If a sharknado was coming and I could only rescue two books, I’d pick (insert Lisa's and my title here once we think of it)…also Charles Dickens.” –Kay Berrisford

Kay has even shared a picture of her sharknado-proof shelter (aka the Melbourne Aquarium). 



I'm glad you survived long enough to do this interview, Kay. It’s always a pleasure.

And now, comment on this post for a chance to win one of Kay's backlist titles! The contest will close at 11:59 p.m. EST on August 12th. To find out more about Kay and her books, check out these links: