Sunday, May 29, 2011

Change the Framework Not the Definition

Kim Kardashian -- no known talents or achievements other than being attractive

I'm going to get a little on my high horse here and try to ride to the rescue of modern women by talking real sense to people who haven't really been talking much of it lately. Recently in a facebook group I was invited to by my lovely friend Brittany there was yet another discussion about trying to change the definition of beauty/pretty to include everyone so no little girl would ever have to feel bad about not being pretty. This is a conversation I've seen and heard a dozen times over and I never like or agree with it. Changing the definition of the word pretty or beautiful to include everyone doesn't fix the problem, it just makes the words effectively meaningless. The definition of pretty or beautiful to mean physically attractive to a large portion of the population isn't what causes self-image problems for young women. What causes problems for young women is the entire framework of the conversation that says the only value women have is their physical attractiveness and sexuality. We need to change what we value in women rather than try to redefine words to say everyone is equally pretty.

Gertrude Stein: Brilliant Author and Women's Rights Advocate

This is one of those age old double standards where we don't treat little boys the same way we treat little girls. Growing up, little girls are taught that the primary goal should be to look pretty. Little boys are given no such goals. They're encouraged to be tough, smart, athletic, talented, creative, etc. and if "handsome" even shows up on the list, it's usually as something they've done inherently without effort. Telling little girls, "You're pretty no matter what" doesn't actually fix the problem, it just gives them hollow credit for something that may or may not be true and perpetuates the flawed thinking of women only being valuable based on their looks.

Golda Meir -- Israel's 4th Prime Minister 1969-1974 (we still haven't even had a female win a major party's nomination for president in America)

I'm coming from this issue from the standpoint of someone who is pretty. My girlfriend, who agrees wholeheartedly with my position on this, is someone coming to the issue as someone who is drop-dead gorgeous. This, more than anything else, has damaged our credibility with other women in speaking to the changing of the framework rather than changing the definition of pretty, which I think is really a shame. Pretty is not what I want to be known for because I know my looks are going to fade someday and I honestly had little to do with their existence; my looks are almost entirely owed to my parents and are something I can accentuate, but in no way created myself, so why should I take credit in their existence? What I really want to be known for is my writing, which is why I have refused to use my looks in any way to promote my books. I could do the disgusting Danica Patrick thing and try to hide holes in my talent by showing off my looks, but being pretty doesn't make my writing any better. My aforementioned gorgeous girlfriend is an amazing athlete who could use her looks to further her exposure, but doesn't because being beautiful has nothing to do with playing volleyball. You're never going to see a sexy picture of me in my books, on my blog, or posted in Twitter because I want people to like my writing for my writing. I have this option, but I refuse to take part in the framework set up for women in which our value is dependent on our looks. My value as a writer is far more important to me than being pretty.

Dr. Mary Walker -- Medical Doctor and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War (more than half a century before we received the right to vote)

This is the framework men have set up for us. Intelligence, leadership, creativity, talent, capacity for compassion, maternal-ism, athleticism, and toughness are all either undervalued in women or not valued at all. Anna Kournikova was a lousy tennis player who really never won anything, yet she was routinely in the top 20 ranking simply because she looked good while sucking at tennis (how do you get to 8th in the world without ever winning a World Tennis Association event?). Sarah Palin is functionally retarded, can barely string together a twitter post, quit her only real political job halfway through, and didn't even read the two books ghost written for her, yet she's popular simply because she is attractive enough to get middle America off their tractors and inside to watch her squawk on Fox News. Telling all little girls they are pretty doesn't make things any better, it just makes the word pretty meaningless.

Tennis isn't modeling--Martina was one of the world's best but guess who has more google searches?

There is an easy answer for this: take looks off the list of important traits for women to have. Teach little girls to focus on their talents, intelligence, emotional capacity, and other far more important qualities before they even consider their looks, which, as I've already stated, are more genetically controlled than anything else. Find your list of things you're proud of, qualities you think make you valuable to the world, and take looks completely out of the equation. We as women have so much more to offer the world than appearance, but people aren't going to take us seriously if we're spending our time trying to redefine the word pretty to include everyone rather than demanding we be respected for our intelligence, talent, creativity, and athleticism. If you're not pretty, who cares? You have more valuable attributes than your looks anyway and you should earn your respect through those.

Klavdia Kalugina -- Russian sniper during World War II with more than 100 confirmed kills

My list of things I have to offer the world besides my appearance:
1. Creativity
2. Intelligence
3. Leadership
4. Compassion
5. Determination

Feel free to post your own list in the comments.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Good Vibrations Part 2

Information without getting this involved in the demonstration

As promised in part 1, the second part of the sex-toy-extravaganza will cover advance toy user information, specific toy types, and information key to lesbian sex toy use (and probably more bad puns). Once you're used to sex toys as a concept, there's really no limit to what all can be done with them; they're as varied and specialized as any tool (which is what they really are) and not just useful in the sex life of us gay girls.

Let's start out by talking about safe sex in the lesbian community. I know, I know, I'm constantly harping on the safe sex and better sex education thing, but with how ill-informed most people are in these matters (because of the aforementioned shit sex ed in this country) I feel like I should bring it up again. The lesbian community is one of the lowest risk sexual communities out there, but just like owning a Mac, low risk doesn't mean no risk. We have fewer sexual partners, have less sex (unfortunately), and our sexual contact tends to be of the less infectious type, which all results in a lower rate of sexual infections. This doesn't mean safe sex isn't important though, especially when it comes to toy use. If you are sexually active with many partners making it through your bedroom and likely making good use of the toys you're keeping there, thorough cleansing between each partner is of utmost importance especially when it comes to toys with ridges, grooves, or realistic (shudder) veins and textures. Viruses and bacteria need biologically active environments to survive, but pussy juice definitely qualifies as biologically active and can settle in these little areas where a once over with a wet nap won't get to them. Thorough cleaning is required between each partner making use of a dishwasher if you're able on the non-electronic toys and liberal use of sanitizer if you're not able to (hand sanitizer works well but make sure you use a lot of it and rub it in really well).

Sexy bike chains?

One of the riskier, but less common, sex practices of the lesbian community involving accoutrement is BDSM. Whips, chains, restrains, and those cats of nine-tails thingies can break skin, are usually made of porous leather that will soak up blood (biologically active to the extreme) and can transfer infection through open wounds. Sadly, disinfecting these items is a whole lot harder without ruining them entirely. So either practice extreme care in how you use them to not break skin, and, if you do, plan on replacing the things you use on rotating partners. A good plan in this case, if you like being whipped, is to keep a dedicated set of BDSM gear that is strictly for you and doesn't get used on partners passing through your bed.

Turning our attention to different types of toys, we find that there are multitasking devices and task-specific toys. There are four major erogenous zones stimulated by toys on women (there are a whole lot more total, but toys only focus on four of them) and several toys that approach each one or can be used on many of them: breasts, internal vaginal, external vaginal, and anal. Many toys can cross boundaries on these, vibrators for example can stimulate internally and externally and also feel pretty nice on the breasts as well. One major caution here though is not swapping toys from anal to vaginal. There are things that live in the anal cavity that should just stay there and will cause problems if you cross over to the vagina, so don't do it. Dedicated sets for each orifice is ideal, but extremely thorough cleaning between the two usages is acceptable.

One of the cases where asking first is always a good idea
Anal toys include plugs, beads, vibrators, and dildos all specific to the task. This is one of the more taboo types for women and honestly doesn't carry the same erogenous boon for women that it does for men (our matching structure to a prostate is the g-spot, which isn't found in our ass). Still, there are nerve endings, there are muscles, and there is the naughtiness factor to anal stimulation that women can enjoy; however, climaxing from pure anal stimulation seems to be something men excel at and is almost impossible for us. This is something worth trying, but don't feel bad if you don't enjoy it and don't feel ashamed if you do (you're in good company either way). I think of anal toys as something like strong coffee or bitter beer--it's an acquired taste, it isn't for everyone, but those who enjoy it really enjoy it. Some toys like plugs are meant to stay inside, be moved around a little for stimulation, but don't require a lot of activity for their sensation. Beads are typically withdrawn slowly during vaginal climax to increase sensation. And dildos and vibrators are often used in almost exactly the same way anally as they are vaginally. If you are going this direction there are two pieces of advice that we can take from our fag brethren: go slow and go lubed. You can never take too much time in the relaxation or lubricating steps, so don't glass over them or it will be both unpleasant and potentially harmful.

Breast toys are a little on the rarer side and tend to orbit around the BDSM function of most of them. There are nipple clamps with chains, pliers, etc, but there are also breast toys that kind of stick to the nipples and vibrate or suction. They're rarer, hard to work, and can be pretty expensive. Even if you're not into full on BDSM, there can be fun to be had with nipple clamps, but the tweaking, painful sensation is not always fun for everyone. There are two major types of clamps, the kind that look like little screw down vices and the ones that look like little alligator clothespins. They do not work equally well for all people and when they slip off, it can hurt. Experiment around with both; there are people who will swear one is far better than the other, and they're usually just telling you what works best for them, so find what works best for you. Also, there is no reason on earth you can use a regular vibrator of any kind on your breasts; intended purpose doesn't mean only purpose, so try it out and see if you get something from it.

Vaginal toys are split into two functions with a lot of crossover between them. Things designed to stimulate the clit and things designed to stimulate the g-spot/internal vaginal cavity can bring out two wildly different types of orgasm if you're predisposed. Many women cannot climax from vaginal only stimulation, but that doesn't mean vaginal stimulation can't add to clitoral orgasms. More importantly, you may be one of the women who DOES climax from vaginal stimulation but you just haven't figured out how yet. What I do recommend is trying both at once to see what you can make of it all.

Clitoral stimulators can come in tiny little packages like butterflies or inside underwear bullets, but can also be as big as the Hitachi wand massager, which plugs into the wall and can be so intense some women have to dull the sensation by putting a blanket or garment between themselves and the vibrating head. This clit is a marvel of evolution (or creationism if you believe god or the flying spaghetti monster built the clit from clay and bits of heaven) with double the nerve endings of the head of a penis. It is also the primary location of most female climax; Freud called these orgasms "juvenile" but I think Freud was cocaine addict with a sexual thing for his mother, so let's just call clitoral orgasms "awesome." There is a feedback variable on clitoral orgasms that doesn't exist on vaginal. I'm sure we've all felt it, that too intense to even be breathed on point where you've run the nerves to the point of practically firing on their own. You can accidentally trigger this too often or too quickly with vibrators, which is where the concept of "vibrator addiction" came from since most tongues and fingers can't match that level of stimulation. The key is to mix things up, find exactly the point things work for you, and not overdo it too often.

Internal vaginal stimulation is combined equal parts of filling and g-spot stimulation. Wanting to feel penetrated does not mean feeling heterosexual, ladies, so don't worry about losing your Vagitarian card over an urge to feel fucked sometimes. Sexuality is far more about who is doing the penetrating than what is doing the penetrating. There are inert toys (dildos) for internal stimulation that can and will perform some g-spot stimulation, but also function to give a filled feeling, which is highly pleasurable. Specific g-spot stimulators tend to have the curved up head and vibrate since finding and hitting the g-spot can sometimes be problematic with straight toys unless you're a master of angles and dipping correctly (and some of us are, but don't feel bad if you need a specific toy for this they're good even if you don't necessarily need them).

Your shopping list just got a lot hotter

There are plenty of toys that combine functionality (internal and external at the same time) but don't feel bad if you find you either don't want or need both at once, or are getting more from one side than the other. More importantly, packing a treasure trove of toys can allow you to do as much or as little stimulation of your erogenous zone as possible. If you want to use all four at once, have all four tools for the job, and feel like blowing your pleasure sensors out your ears, by all means stimulate all four zones at once! I've personally tried this and found it complex, confusing, and a little silly, but you might be better at sexually multitasking than I am.

Speaking of personal stuff, keeping toys is a personal endeavor and steps should be taken to keep it that way. My girlfriend and I use a heavy-duty plastic bin with a lid and places to put padlocks to keep my curious little nephew and nosy mother out of trouble when they come to visit. Hiding places (like the nightstand drawer) are not as secret as you might think, considering a lot of people will open the drawer just to see what's in there. They're also not necessarily the most sanitary place as things other than sex toys routinely share space in these "hiding" places. Storage is important and should be done with care to ensure your toys are safely concealed from anyone who isn't planning on using them and sanitary for when they are used. Sealable plastic containers are always a good option; the locks are up to you, but have saved a lot of explaining for surprise visits from my relatives. As gross as it is to think about this, pets can also be a problem for improperly cleaned or stored toys; if you have a dog (and a lot of lesbians do), air-tight containers they can't get into in locations they can't reach should be something you consider. Seriously, take a look at their chew toys and take a look at your toys--their doggy brains probably aren't going to be able to tell the difference.

I have a few personal favorite recommendations to share now for each category in addition to the encouragement to use sealing plastic containers for storage:
Better than the FDA when it comes to sex toys

Breast stimulation -- I'm an occasional clamp user. While I've seen, tried, and laughed at the sensation of nipple sucking devices, I'm not really convinced they're anything but novelty. I like the alligator clamp types, use them very rarely, and usually can only keep them on for a little while. I like the way they look (since I'm into piercings although not my nipples) but not necessarily the BDSM aspects of their use. The alligator clips are easiest to get off too, which is why I like them; being able to unhook them quickly when I'm done with them is a huge bonus to me.

Anal stimulation -- While I'm not a big user of these types of toys, I do own them, have used them, and do like them when I'm in the right mood. I'm not into the too much effort or focus on that area though, so I do recommend this plug with a dopey name (find one that fits comfortably-size definitely isn't everything) and occasionally beads, although even this is often too much anterior focus for my tastes.

Clitoral stimulation -- If there is something better than the Hitachi wand massager for this, I have no idea what it is. The thing plugs in so there's no need for batteries, has multiple heads to find what you like best, is available most everywhere since it isn't intended as a sex toy (yeah right), and gives some of the world's best orgasms. Storing it is difficult since it is a monster, you do have to masturbate near a grounded outlet, and it isn't remotely water proof, but these are drawbacks you'll ignore when you realize it is the Cadillac of vibrators. Keep in mind, you might need to use it through your clothes or a blanket if you're not up to the raw power it has, and it does have some power behind it.

Internal stimulation -- I am one of the lucky, lucky, lucky few women who can climax through vaginal stimulation alone; my girlfriend Nikki, also one of the lucky few although she's better at it, has deeper climaxes than I do that way, and it doesn't take much time at all for her. Jealousy of her insanely orgasmic nature aside, I do feel fortunate to be one of the ones who can. Simple works best on this for me, and an average, g-spot dedicated vibrator with an egg ending is usually the most effective way to have a g-spot orgasm. The Easy Touch doesn't look like much, doesn't cost much, but it really doesn't need to for how well it does its one dedicated task of g-spot stimulation.

Finally, to wrap this all up, I feel like I have to mention double-ended dildos or shared toys. Honestly, I don't really know a lot about these. We've tried one with spotty success, but kind of just let it sit at the bottom of the toy chest now since we prefer intimate positions the double-ended things don't really allow while still doing much. Maybe I'm not the most skilled toy ninja in the world since I can't seem to make one of these things work, but I'll admit it: I can't seem to make one of these things work. Plus, and this is kind of a weird mental hangup, the end scene in Requiem For a Dream scared the hell out of me not only because Jennifer Connelly is one of my childhood crushes (thank you Labyrinth for that) but because my girlfriend looks strikingly similar to Miss Connelly. If anyone knows a good usage for these things (and wasn't mentally scarred by the ass-to-ass scene from Requiem) feel free to leave the info in the comment section.

I hope you enjoyed the two-part-toy-extravaganza. I also hope this encourages you to branch out, try new things, and keep your toys both safe and sanitary. As my high school coaches were so prone to saying: anything worth doing is worth doing well. And I really feel like that should apply to masturbation and toy-driven sex as well.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Me in My Fiction

Writing isn't as easy as it looks.

I've been to a few writing conferences, taken more than a few creative writing classes, and read several books by fairly famous authors about the writing process (Stephen King's is good until he tells people how to wrap up a book quickly--do as he says, not as he's ever done), and one thing I've noticed is the wide variety of opinions on how much of yourself can go into a character before it stops being fiction and starts being a weird diary. Some authors say no more than 10% of any character can be you, some say zero for pure fiction (Bradbury for example), and other said next to nothing, but then later realized they were lying (King for example), and still other says a piece of them is in every character they ever wrote (Hemmingway). Or there's the idealized versions of self or the pessimistic versions of self people write in. Joseph Conrad told most of his stories through the voice of the man he wished he was: Charles Marlow, while Vonnegut wrote an example of himself, Kilgore Trout, if things hadn't gone well in publishing and had him run around failing at being a writer inside of Vonnegut's wildly popular novels. Stephanie Meyer all but beats us over the head with the fact that she is Bella Swan, but J.K. Rowling intimates the Harry Potter children are more like actual children for her.

Every time I hear a theory on this that I think I like, I inspect my own writing and come to the conclusion that my best material immediately contradicts what I wanted to believe was true of writing. Of course, that's probably just an irritating trait a lot of writers have with enough self-reflection and time to attempt real growth. I don't know what theory I subscribe to when it comes to 0-100% me in a character. I know I haven't gone to 100% and I'd probably be able to find at least a 1% in every character I've written. What I am interested in, after being asked what I thought about this, is why I put as much of myself into the characters that I did.

Top 5 characters I've written with the highest percentages of self:

#1 Gieo aka Stacy - Astral Liaisons / The Gunfighter and The Gear-head (story and novel) - 85-95% me.
The obvious stuff aside, being from Orange County, being socially awkward, being an outcast in high school, and being Korean (I'm part, she's full-blooded) this is the character I feel most like. Her sexual proclivities match mine in that I switch wildly from top to bottom at the drop of a hat or panties and her tastes in sexual acts almost perfectly mirrors my own. What really surprises me is how emotional I get when I write emotionally volatile scenes for Gieo. She's not a Bella Swan though as I don't envy her situation in the novel the way Stephanie clearly wants a 17-year-old vampire boy who sparkles in the sun, but I would put her as the most accurate depiction of myself in my fiction.

#2 - Dr. Holly Berri - "An Archeologist's Dream" in Demons of Paradise - 60-75% me.
I always pictured her as looking like Amy Acker

Even though the fantasy in the story isn't my own, it's actually something very sexy my girlfriend told me happened to her several times in high school short of the ending anyway, the character has a lot of my more eccentric personality traits. Holly is so professional in so many settings with this weird, kinky, spastic side right under the surface just looking for a reason for it to come out so she can do something bizarre. I think Holly actually looks forward to the end of the story when the world finally sees her for the goofy, impetuous person she really is. This mirrors me in real life--I'm far more respectable in person than I ever am online. Tweeples, Facebook friends, and blog followers get to see a side of me that is on a short-leash in real life. No secret mummy dream lovers for me to merge the two worlds though.

#3 - Clover - "Growing a New Garden" in Astral Liaisons - 60% meClover is the literary embodiment of my rebellious side. She is the freedom fighter I wish I had the courage (or capability) to be, but is completely enthralled by her lover (something I know all too well). Sexually, she has the same secret inclination to lose control, even if it means personal danger, with a desire to completely give in to pleasure in all its forms. The pollination room scene is from one of my favorite dreams of all time, but not particularly realistic outside of fiction or sleep. The vulnerability for Clover only comes into play when it comes to Nightshade and the myriad of ways she lets her lover control her sexually and emotionally. This easily manipulated position in a relationship is something I know all too well; I am the heart-on-the-sleeve girl and Clover's weakness is born of my own.

#4 - Lizette - "Of Love and Actual Demons" in Demons of Paradise - 50-55% me
Alison Haislip looks like I imagine Lizette

Lizette is actually a lot closer to my scene girl persona Lizzy Dark, which is why she made the list. She's petulant, selfish, and a little psychotic. What gives Lizette her appeal is actually her inexperience in the world and the wonder derived from learning about it. In the story, she's something of a psychopath, which I'm not (I don't think), but with a bizarre twist. Interest in small creature comforts is a huge trait Lizette and I share; I'm just not willing to go to the extents she is to get them.

#5 - Leilani - "Unimportant Important Things" in Astral Liaisons - 45% meI think Leilani more encompasses the feeling of complete awe I have around my girlfriend. Someone tall, beautiful, athletic, brilliant, talented, funny, interesting, organized, compassionate, popular, charismatic, and capable can really make everyone around them feel inept; being in a relationship with someone like that and being gone in love with them can drive a person downright crazy. This was what caught for me in this story. Of course, the resolution to this crazy feeling in the story probably isn't likely to happen in my reality, but the crazy feeling is similar. There's also just the lovely goal in life of being able to find someone to be silly with. the wavelength Leilani and Ivy are on in the story should be the goal of everyone in their love life. There's just something magical about being with someone who gets you.

According to some writers, I've gone well overboard in how much of myself I pour into my stories and according to others, I haven't gone nearly far enough. This was an interesting question about writing, and even though I'm probably not experienced enough to be an expert on the topic, I get the feeling my answer is fairly similar to the one a lot of more experienced writers would give. Frankly, I think it's unavoidable in some measure, but I also don't believe anyone can fully put themselves into a character because the vast majority of people aren't honest enough with themselves to truly put their true essence into a character without revision for the better or worse.

Being honest with you, my lovely readers, I am easy to find in the character listed above.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Good Vibrations Part 1

The song is about a vibrator...the video is about 2 and a half minutes!

I apologize (not really) for the horrible pun title, but the topic at hand must be discussed without further delay! Vibrators, dildos, toys, pocket-rockets, battery-operated boyfriends, plugs, butterflies, wand "massagers", rabbits, or whatever the hell you feel like calling them, can be a girl's best friend, but only if she knows what to look for. I received a request for a sex-toy article in the style of the strap-on one, tossed the idea out to the twitter-verse, and it sounds like a winner with a real need, so let's get started...

There are taboos to masturbation in general for women and sex toys. I have heard the comment they look like penises being a problem for lesbians--really? Look at the pictures on this blog, now I don't know a ton about cock (anything really) but I know they don't look like that. Some sex toys do, but you almost have to go out of your way these days to get one that does. I've also heard the complaint that they aren't natural like fingers and tongues. Oh for fuck's sake (you clicked the FFS link on the last blog, didn't you?), are we suddenly so enamored with doing things the "natural" way that we've taken to eating spaghetti with our hands instead of a fork, digging holes in the yard instead of using the toilet, or started shouting "Hey you!" out our window rather than use our cell phone? If you're that crazy about "natural" you probably shouldn't be reading this blog on a computer or using the internet in general. The real hangup I hear from most younger women is the stigma of owning a toy as if it somehow means they can't get laid or that they're crazy freak sluts who are so sex crazed they'll resort to mechanical relief to...blah blah blah fucking blah...sometimes my own gender's issues with their sexuality irritates the shit out of me. Here's a little history lesson, ladies. Sex toys have existed since before the plow; there is are sex toy museums on Santorini Island in Greece and Shanghai China both of which have toys that date back more than 4,000 years; women have been doing this a LONG time. More than that, are we really supposed to be so ashamed of our own sexuality that we can't bring ourselves to an orgasm? This is why so many women reach their 40s without ever having had one. Masturbation is self-care, good for your mental health and physical well-being; it also directly contributes to your ability to enjoy sex when you have it, so get over the stigma put on us by idiotic men and bitchy women who are only trying to suppress everyone else's sexuality because they're so ashamed of their own.

Oh, sure, this just looks horrible. Why would anyone want to do this and have a bunch of orgasms? I'd much rather be sexually repressed and churn butter or something.

Plus, and I cannot stress this enough, we get awesome fucking sex toys! Have you seen the weird shit men have to make do with? A rubber pussy inside a flashlight body is supposed to be the best one in the world...WTF? Really? Ours also don't carry the shame male ones do. If a girl own a sex toy, she's considered liberated and sexually adventurous; if a guy owns a sex toy, he's a freak who can't get laid (or gay--gay boys don't have nearly the problem with this the straight ones do). It's not remotely fair and I really do feel sorry for guys about this unfair double standard...actually, no I don't, how do you assholes like double standards? We get to live our entire lives with about fifty-bajillion! Think I've alienated the handful of male readers I had? Do you think I ever had any? Whatever, not everything needs to be male-friendly.

At least we don't have to watch a movie with our vibrator before we masturbate.

Part 1 will focus on the basics of toys and part 2 will step it up a notch for advanced users and lesbians comfortable with the tools of the trade.

Variety is the spice of masturbation!

Let's start where we did with the strap-ons discussion...size, shape, and comfort levels. As you can see from the lovely chart above, these things are varied (far more so than strap-ons) and can cover a wide range of sensations. The point is, it's going to take some experimenting to find what you like most and what works best for you. They didn't build a million different models, styles, and designs for the artistic merit of toys (and some of them are darn pretty, aren't they?); they built them because some work in different ways for different people. The key is to finding what you like and what works for you. This is going to require a trial and error period since, let's face it, there isn't really a return option for toys, and aren't we all glad for that? Find something you find visually appealing that has a functionality you know you'll enjoy. If you're a big time clit-cummer, look for toys that specialize in clitoral stimulation first. If you're curious about g-spot work, and your fingers just aren't up to the task, shop with that in mind for one of the wickedly curved little ladies. These are tools to do a job, and that job is getting you off; you'll only want to work with the tools if they work for you and look good doing it.

This is what you picture when I say "sex shop" isn't it?

There is this stigma to sex shops, and it's well-earned, trust me, but it's not universal anymore. There are boutiques for sex toys, porn, costumes, lingerie, and guides now that are entirely geared toward women. Don't get me wrong, the creepy ones with the booths guys use to make paper machete animals (I'm a gold star lesbian--I don't want to think about what they actually do in there) still exist, they just don't have the monopoly they once had. If you live in a larger city, or larger city adjacent, finding one of these female friendly, well-lit, typically staffed by young women and extremely gay men, shouldn't be too difficult. If you live in the boonies where the only sex shop is also a taxidermist's office, you might need to take a look on the internet for your safe-shopping experience. But that's not a problem! They even sell "marital aides" on Amazon now. If you do the sex boutique direction, watch out for the up-selling though. Most of the sex-shop-girls, who are really lovely people, work on commission with quotas and item rates to meet; they'll help you if you're new to the game, but they'll usually help you spend a lot more money than you probably should.

What happens if you ask a lesbian if she's "well-hung"

This actually brings up a good point--cost! You really can almost spend as much or as little as you want on sex toys. There are toys that cost as much as your rent and there are little $10 vibrators that look like lipstick tubes. This might also be one of the only times in your life where you don't have to spend more to get more. Functionality is more important than price or form in this case. You can spend several hundred dollars on a multi-function rabbit with rotating/vibrating g-spot stimulating beads, end tilting function, and a multi-speed clit stimulating arc with a control system that looks like your TV remote, and you may even figure out how it works (I'm still figuring out mine after two-ish years) but it also might just sit around looking very nifty and collecting expensive dust when you realize you don't need or want most of what it does. My girlfriend's favorite vibrator is a little $15 gizmo, it is a gizmo, but it's also called Gizmo, she bought years ago; we have other toys (more on that later) but when she's interested in self-love, she reaches for Gizmo. When we're having fun together, the entire treasure trove gets broken out (again, more on that in part 2). The point being, don't think a small sex-toy budget will preclude you from getting something you'll enjoy.

Figuring it all out is part of the fun!

Once you start building up your tool box or tools for your box (I know, what's with me and the bad puns today?) you'll have to start considering care for your special little friends, or big friends if you went that route.

If you are using electronic toys, and I highly recommend you do, very few are the plug in type (my personal favorite happens to be, but we'll talk more about that in part 2), so you'll have to think about batteries. In this case, name-brand, high yield batteries are NOT what you want. Duracel, Engergizer, any brand wealthy enough to advertise actually runs the risk of burning out your sensitive little toy's motor. Get the 99 cent store brand batteries, or, even better, rechargeable batteries; they have a lower power output rate and they won't cost you a fortune in batteries and burned out toys. To be honest, most toys don't use a whole lot of power, so you're not likely to need the massive storage quantity of the name brand batteries which were designed to go into gargantuan power-suckers like digital cameras and remote control helicopters.

Many non-electronic rubber and silicon dildos are dishwasher safe (top shelf only please), but this might not be a good way to clean them if you have kids or roommates who won't appreciate a 10" purple rubber cock next to their favorite cereal bowl. Soap, water, a quick hand job under the faucet, and then a fine little layer of hand-sanitizer will usually cover it and can be accomplished with the business end of electronic toys. Most toys are water resistant (obviously wetness is part of their job), but that doesn't necessarily mean WATERPROOF. Double check this very important distinction before you take your fun friends into the shower or bathtub with you; some toys are champion scuba divers who will gladly submarine you in a bubble bath, but most are not.
There are sex toys shaped like rubber duckies if you're into that sort of thing.

Speaking of showers--the jokes on sitcoms and romantic comedies aren't entirely full of shit. You can get off using a stream of shower water in the right way. I don't know if this qualifies exactly as a sex toy, but it's something worth mentioning, because it can be combined with a sex toy for some pretty mind-blowing fun (as long as you've found the all important WATERPROOF label on your toy). I'm probably not the only one here who had some of their first self-sexual experiences with a shower nozzle, but that might explain why water is fairly erotic for so many of us. Shower heads can be good toy substitutes or good toy accompaniment if you're so inclined to experiment and have the right kind of water pressure.

I feel like she's doing it wrong, but that might just be because I don't take a chair and a fireman into the shower with me.

In part 2 we're going to get into all the fun of the different types of toys, safe-sex as a lesbian packing a toy chest, and the importance of protecting your masturbatory investments. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the bad jokes and puns will have to continue through part 2.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion Part 2

This is what we're calling vampires these days?

I'm not here to Twilight bash (okay a little I am). Let's just say I have written English Lit papers for genuine English Lit classes that deconstructed Twilight as blatant Mormon propaganda, and I did get A's on them. There are books out there, sadly written by women, that try very very very hard to keep women in subservient roles, sexualize what would be considered creepy behavior by guys in real life, and cram traditional gender roles down younger generations' throats with shitty writing. The only way out of this vicious cycle of bad "literature" (sorry, I just can't refer to Twilight as that without the quotations marks) reinforcing harmful stereotypes and behaviors is to STOP FUCKING BUYING IT!

Lesbians, honest to goodness rainbow flag wearing, Melissa Ethridge listening, After-Ellen trending, dykes can be found reading heterosexual vampire romance because...I don't know why. Modern, enlightened, feminist women, same thing, reading Twilight and rambling on about how they know it's bad, but it's just so dreamy/delicious/drain bramaging. My initial reaction to this was to say, "There's good stuff out there! You just need to look a little harder." Then I looked a little harder, and I was, for the most part, completely wrong--I hate being wrong, by the way, it really screws with the image I'm trying to create for myself of always being right. Lesbians especially had two choices, bad "lesbian vampire fiction" written by straight men, or hunting down the few, fairly poorly written indie options actually penned by lesbians, but not actually even up to Twilight quality control standards, if you can believe that. That was, until the indie publisher revolution that is ongoing. Sure, you might have to wade through some bad stuff, but suddenly, the market isn't dictated entirely by old, straight, white men at the Big Four (mentioned in the last shameless self-promotion blog).
Being a little ashamed of what was out there, and feeling like I could do better, I went ahead and put my money where my mouth was and wrote a book of paranormal romance. Demons of Paradise, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, is a collection of eight short stories, my usual amount per collection, all in the paranormal romance genre. I only included one vampire story, but, don't worry, I have a complete collection (of 8 stories again) dedicated entirely to fanged ladies coming out in the not too distant future.

Something I felt was missing in the vast majority of other similar fiction out there, especially the stuff written by straight guys, is the emotional context of sexuality and sexual encounters. Maybe this is just the soft and gushy, pink-n-frilly femme in me, but what's the point of sex if you don't have any emotional context? Twilight may have got this right...sort of...the theory of emotional context was there, but the emotions were shallow, pedantic, unrealistic, and spoken at the level of your average 13-year-old. What Twilight, and a good deal of erotica/romance out there fails to do, is come up with a story worth reading. Take out the romance, take out the sex, take out the weird scene where the vampire "family" plays baseball, and the story is...oh, right, there really isn't one at that point. Stories should be felt, experienced through all five senses (real writers realize things smell and sound like stuff), and follow a plot line FFS! I built my stories, from the ground up, to be stories, and then added sex, romance, and emotional context. Without knowing the basics of creating fiction, writers can really waste your time and money.

The most sexually active organ on the female body is the mind; this is true across nationality, sexual orientation, and age. Tickling the mind works far better than tickling the clit (although you should probably do both just to be safe). In Demons of Paradise, I'm going for my reader's mind, sense of humor, and heart--more or less in that order. I want entertainment value to go hand in hand with wet arousal.

It looks a little like this in my head.

So if writing stories that are actually stories is goal numero uno, and writing stories that appeal to women on the intellectual and emotional level and not just on the arousal level is goal the second, then the third and final goal is to give a bunch of page time to things that don't normally get page time in paranormal romance.

Like I said, I do have a vampire story with the vampire basically being an undead (redundant?) version of Rachel Zoe. I feel like enough people own the book now that I can let that little secret slip. Aside from setting up a continuation story in my all vampire collection, this story was also to show a different side of vampires that didn't involve sparkling in the daylight and chasing after high school girls.

Mummies, werewolves, ghosts, changelings, witches, angels, and demons round out the rest of the cast. There's a certain level of variety lacking in paranormal romance these days. Witches and werewolves often take supporting roles to vampires in a lot of fiction, but this in no way fully fleshes out the genre. I really felt like this was an opportunity a lot of writers were just skipping over. I love ancient Egyptian stuff, and think mummies can be really sexy, so I introduced one that was the star of her own story without any vampires to muddy up the Nile.
See? Isn't this a sexy alternative to vampires?

I get that vampires are the in right now, I really do, and I have a novel in the works that is almost entirely vampire romance and a collection that is entirely dedicated to our fanged friends, but for Demons of Paradise, I wanted the mosaic of paranormal romance to be on display in stories that were stories first and smut second. Be entertained, be aroused, be made to giggle while you read.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion Part 1

This cartoon was a little before my time, but I've heard the meme and thought it was funny.

The Reality for 99% of authors in the world is self-promotion. Even authors within the Big Four publishing houses (Harper Collins, Penguin Group, Random House, and Toll House Cookies...I mean Simon and Schuster) have to do their own promotion because the publisher can't be bothered to advertise for anyone who isn't Stephanie Meyer or Stephen King. Every other press/publishing house is labeled indie and few of these have the resources to launch much of a marketing campaign on their own behalf, never mind one of their authors. I can hear the confusion already in my readers, "But Cassandra, we all know you're talented and beautiful, but this can't be true about the Big Four. I've seen ads for Signet books in the New York Times." This is exactly what the Big Four want you to think! Every major publishing house is actually a giant conglomeration of sub-divisions that give the appearance of diversity where none actually exists. Signet, one of the major publishers of Stephen King's books, is actually just the Penguin Group. Dell Publishing, the late Kurt Vonnegut's publisher, is Random House. And so on...

I'm published by a small indie press for my novels and a small indie magazine based in Australia for my column. This is the reality for so many freelance writers and struggling authors. I like the personal attention from smaller indies personally. I know my illustrator's name--it's Katiie, spelled just like that for some reason, and she's great. She listens to me, adjusts her work to my input, and actually reads my work so she'll know what the pictures are supposed to look like. The covers and internal illustrations look how I want them to. The Big Four will tell the author, "This is your cover. We're putting logos here, here, and here. And a review from someone here. Feel free to direct your notes to that brick wall over yonder." It's the same thing with Sass Magazine. I know my editor's name--it's Annie, spelled just like that. She responds to my e-mails, is friends with me on Facebook, and has yet to tell me to direct any notes or comments to a brick wall. As much as I like Day Moon Press and Sass Magazine for their personal care and interest in my happiness, I am still left to do my own promotion, but I would probably have to do that even if I was published by one of the Big Four.

See this lovely work by Katiie? It's like she read the story.

I'm getting boring, talking too much about the industry, and that's not why people read my blog. It's like reading an economics thesis at a burlesque club. Sure, it might be important and interesting to some people, but it's not why people bought tickets. Let's get to the sexy, funny stuff...

My 2nd collection--Cover by Katiie and myself

"Astral Liaisons"
is a collection of eight short stories (my usual amount per collection) with a 50's pulp science-fiction motif. It's available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

To be perfectly honest, the primary goal of this collection was to put a lot more group sex into the stories. I have a threesome where a couple seduces a straight girl in "The Flesh Menagerie" a fourgy (four person orgy--thanks NOFX for the term) in "Of Pirates and Politicians" and I'm not sure what you'd call the pollination room scene in "Growing a New Garden" but it involves a ludicrous number of women. I don't know why I had that as a goal when I started writing the collection, but I think I succeeded in spectacular fashion of bringing polyamory to the pages of my books.

The second goal, was to put something of an homage to all the work that came before me. Granted Megan Rose Gedris is only four years older than me, but her comic books are awesome and definitely influenced me. Throw Kurt Vonnegut into the mix along with four years of high school spent watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, and you've got a pretty clear picture of how this book came together. In the gaming world, these little gems of insider information scattered throughout a larger work are called "Easter Eggs" being a crazy gamer girl, this had a huge appeal to me and so they're all over the book.

The third, and final goal, was to launch a story that inspired my first, full-length novel, due out this summer. "The Gunfighter and The Gear-Head" is a mix of steampunk, alien invasion, and old-west, following a former Victoria's Secret model turned post-apocalyptic gunslinger (very loosely based on my girlfriend) and a brainy, but somewhat spastic engineering genius who is one of the last scientists on the planet (loosely based on myself--or so people keep telling me). Reading the story won't give away much from the book, but should give a lovely sampler taste of what is to come.
Katiie said she was adjusting this to become the cover for the book. I can't wait!

Most erotica/romance is supposed to serve a purpose, and I feel mine still serves that explicit purpose of being sexually gratifying for the reader, but there's an element of artistry to the story and other literary elements that I feel so much of erotica and romance lacks. Maybe this doesn't matter to most people, maybe erotica is supposed to be ham-fisted literary pornography, and maybe I'm just putting perfume on a pig to claim my stories are fundamentally different. Regardless of whether or not you like the sex, and I'm really hoping you will, I wrote the characters to be vibrating and interesting and the story compelling enough to be interesting in its own right even if you took out all the group sex, strap-ons, and pussy-licking.

My readership, which is still in the hundreds right now, is a lot more diverse than I originally thought. I was trying to bring lesbian fiction to a lesbian audience when I began writing these stories and books, seeking out lesbian publishers who shared my vision, and for the most part, I think that's worked out. I have recently come across a few straight male readers, straight female readers, and bisexual female readers who enjoyed the books. I'm so insular in my little lesbian world that I hadn't even stopped to consider this as a possibility. I'm glad it worked out this way though--sex and fiction are universal and should be enjoyed by all regardless of author intent. I've spoken with more than a few female authors and readers who read and write male on male erotica and romance, and isn't that wonderful!

To address the smattering of requests I've received to start including men sexually into my plans for that in the near future. Besides, as a gold star lesbian, my understanding of heterosexual sex is only theoretical.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Haunted House on Top

I'm going to link a little fan fiction here. It's a lovely free sample that I can't legally sell because, as fan fiction, these characters aren't mine. I still think it's a fun story from back when I was a slash fan-fic writing fiend!

Haunted House on Top

Cami, who had been having fewer and fewer crazy episodes as of late, felt optimistic about Halloween despite the possible catastrophic mixing of schizophrenia and costumes. It was her first Halloween with her long distance girlfriend, Brianna, who would be driving down from New York for the occasion, as Cami had driven up for most other holidays to that point; being the only vampire in the relationship, it did only seem fitting that Cami be the one to decide on how they celebrated all hallows eve. Her Atrociously Gay Best Friend Forever, a.k.a. AGBFF, Lewis said he knew of a haunted house in old Alexandria that might be fun. He wasn't going until much later, a hot date of his own, as he'd put it, but he'd sent the directions to her along with the password they would need to get in.

Lewis had also been the one to go costume shopping with her. Being a Napoleonic era vampire, with tastes in clothing toward the flamboyant, Lewis knew all of the best costume shops that were period accurate and open after dark. To his great disappointment, Cami had selected a Wonder Woman costume. Putting the costume on at home, alone, on Halloween night, Cami began to see the source of Lewis's many complaints with the plan. She was thin, far too thin for her modest breasts to fill out the top of the one piece costume, and, while her legs did look smashing in the knee-high boots, the star-spangled backside of the costume seemed to have designs on finding its way up her behind. He said she would spend the evening picking patriotic wedgies, but she hadn't quite followed what he meant by it.

"Double-sided tape," Melvin said from her perch on the edge of the bathtub. She was Cami's second demon companion, a squat, round frog, covered in spikes, roughly the size of a basketball with an old woman's voice that didn't sound too dissimilar from Betty White.

"No, I'm Wonder Woman," Cami replied, admiring the way the shiny material clung to her lithe curves. When she turned to examine the back, she had to grasp the blue fabric to pull it away from the center it was inching toward.

"She means for you to tape your costume to your ass, dummy," Barry said from his higher perch on the tank of the toilet. He was her original demon, a product of her psychotic break, looking like the unholy spawn of a Chihuahua and a goat that was then dressed in footy pajamas and dipped in road tar.

Cami took the advice, and tape, from Melvin successfully anchoring the backside of her costume to her own backside. With her golden bracers in place, her lasso on her hip, and headband holding back her shoulder-length black hair, she felt as ready as she could. Without a reflection in the mirror, she couldn't be sure if she looked properly wondrous, but her two demons said she looked like a slutty American flag, which was precisely what she was going for. Cami finished applying her blood-red lipstick when the doorbell rang.

With a quick jog down the stairs, she flung the front door open to find Brianna on the steps dressed in what looked like a highly-impractical leather, armored dress. Brianna, who had been buxom before college, had put on just enough weight in her first year of college to be lusciously curvy in exciting new ways. Her long, thick Latina hair had been straightened to fall around her shoulders, although Cami's attention gravitated toward the copious mounds of tan cleavage pushing out the top of the dress.

"That's such a are you?" Cami asked.

"Xena, Warrior Princess." Brianna held up the little metal ring (which was actually plastic) on the side of her belt as if that would make it all clear. "From the TV show?"

"I've been dead and crazy for most of the last hundred years without access to a TV until very recently," Cami said by way of explanation, "but if this is what a warrior princess looks like, I need to start watching."

"The costume fit better in high school."

"I like the way it fits now."

They shared a knowing smile.

The drive, which was only a few blocks from Cami's inherited estate, took a little longer than expected as Cami kept having to restrain herself from crawling across the Range Rover's center console to sit on Brianna's lap. When Brianna finally pointed out that Cami could survive a car accident that would likely kill her human girlfriend, Cami remained on her side of the car, with only her left hand making teasing trips over to stroke Brianna's luscious thighs.

Once parked in front of the haunted house, which looked remarkably like any other house in the row of old colonials in the Tudor style, Cami unclipped her seatbelt and hopped across onto Brianna's lap, straddling her in a fairly athletic maneuver. Cradling Brianna's face between her hands, Cami kissed her, her lips cold and urgent against Brianna's until her mouth opened far enough for Cami's tongue to seek out Brianna's tongue ring. Brianna's hands found their way to Cami's thinly clothed ass, caressing it gently until she heard the crinkle of the tape. Letting Cami slide back a little out of her grasp, Brianna ended up honking the horn with Cami's butt. They both had to break the kiss to giggle.

"Do you have tape on your ass?" Brianna asked.

"It's intentional and necessary, I assure," Cami replied.

"Is there tape anywhere else I should know about?"

Cami feigned a pondering pose and shook her head. "Not that I'm aware of, but I'm beginning to think I should have used some on my chest as well." She shifted a little, re-adjusting the front of the Wonder Woman costume to make sure it concealed her breasts.

With the moment ruined by double-sided tape crinkles and ass-on-horn honking, they decided to head up to the house, linking arms as they walked up the front steps of the house, which was clearly labeled haunted house by the large banner above the door, but had none of the campy trappings they were expecting. Nobody waited to take their tickets, no costumed thrill seekers milled around the front, and, aside from the porch light, the entire house seemed to be dark.

"This doesn't look right," Brianna said. "Are you sure we have the right address?"

"It was your GPS that brought us here, you tell me?" Cami held back from knocking on the door when she realized Brianna had taken several steps back. "Don't worry; you have an immortal creature of the night with some sort of golden rope thing here to protect you." Cami held out the lasso to show Brianna how on top of the situation she was.

"That's a lasso."

"What does it do?" Cami asked.

"Supposedly makes people tell the truth."

Cami inspected the lasso, which looked like ordinary rope spray-painted gold. Exotic things could come in ordinary looking packages, she supposed. Taking Brianna by the hand, she knocked on the door with a resounding echo following as if she'd banged on an entirely empty drum. A small, wooden slat in the door slid open.

"Password?" a disembodied voice on the other side of the door asked.

"Carbuncle," Cami and Brianna said in unison.

The door opened on an empty hallway. They both took a few tentative steps into the house, far enough to look around behind the opened door, expecting to find their greeter hiding, but the space was as empty as the rest of the tastefully appointed house from what they could tell. Before they could even give each other a concerned glance, the door slammed behind them.

"Is this vampire stuff?" Brianna asked, clinging to Cami's side.

"It might be," Cami said. "I'm not really aware of what all stuff we can do."

Loud, thrumming, dance music beckoned them away from the dimly lit entryway deeper into the darkness of the house, down a hall draped with black sheets hanging on the wall, into a crowded dance club replete with flashing strobes, bass-driven beats, and close to a hundred shadowy figures dancing to the rave music. The normalcy of the scene set them both at ease, and Brianna practically dragged Cami into the throng to dance. Pushing deep into the crush of bodies, they found a spot open enough to dance so long as they did so nearly in each other's shoes. Cami removed the lasso from her belt and slung it around Brianna's waist, holding her close as they writhed against each other in time with the music.

The scent of lemon poppy-seed muffins rose to Cami's nose when she nuzzled in closer to Brianna. It was the scent of her blood, her desire, the part of Cami's predatory, vampire attraction that drew her to Brianna in the first place. With Brianna's ample breasts brushing up against hers with every shift and move to the music, Cami felt an undeniable lust rising not just between her legs, but in her fangs as well.

"Do you have to tell me the truth now?" Cami whispered into Brianna's ear, nuzzling ever closer into her thick, brown hair.

"Whatever you want to ask," Brianna replied breathlessly.

"Do you want me to bite you, right here, right now?" Cami whispered even closer to Brianna's neck, letting her slowly extending fangs brush against the soft skin just below Brianna's ear.

"Yes, and I don't care who sees," Brianna practically purred in response.

Cami cradled the back of Brianna's head and let her teeth sink in slowly, thrilling at the immediate splash of hot blood across her tongue. Brianna stiffened for a split second before curling into Cami's embrace. She wrapped one arm around her vampire lover's shoulder for stability, but let the other roam up and down Cami's side for a moment, moving past the playful petting stage to cup one of her breasts, caressing the firm mound eagerly through the top of her Wonder Woman costume.

With her bloodlust satiated, at least, in part, and her more provincial lust building from Brianna's caresses, Cami broke away from the bite, gasping, although she didn't actually need to draw breath, immediately looking for a place they might go for some much-needed privacy. Instead, what she found was that they were embracing on an entirely empty dance floor. The strobe lights shut off, the music faded, and the room, which they once had thought a vibrant rave scene, actually appeared to be a Victorian sitting room dimly lit with a smattering of oil lamps and candles.

"Um..." Cami said, feeling a little stupid for not thinking of something better to say.

Brianna opened her eyes and jumped, twisting in Cami's arms, not to escape, but to perhaps burrow in closer. "What the fuck?"

Cami could kick herself for not thinking to say what Brianna had just said—it so perfectly described the situation.

"We should probably go back out the way we came." Cami turned in a slow circle to try to remember which way they'd come in, but found the room didn't actually seem to have any doors or windows, just larger paintings where one might reasonably assume a door or window should go. "That's odd. I could have sworn we came in through a door."

"What the fuck?"

"You said that already."

"I thought it bore repeating."

Cami slipped from Brianna's reluctant grasp, leaving her, for the moment, to stand in the middle of the room, while Cami made her way to one of the paintings of a doorway to give it closer inspection. "I could have sworn we came in through here," Cami said.

"Your sense of direction is shit," Barry said from the location Cami was almost entirely certain she'd left Brianna.

She whirled around to find the foot-tall rat dog/goat/road tar demon standing in Brianna's spot and the Latina Warrior Princess nowhere in sight. "What are you doing here?" she demanded.

"Fuck if I know," Barry threw up two exasperated claw hands. "It's not like I teleported here on purpose. You're not frightened, are you?"

"Of course not," Cami said dismissively. "I'm a badass, undead bitch."

"You're also the moron who just lost your girlfriend."

"That too."

"There's good news though," Barry said with a little hop.

"Which is...?"

"There's a door behind you now."

Cami turned to find the painting of a door had indeed materialized into an actual door. When she turned to thank Barry, she found the spot completely empty. When she turned back to the door, she nearly jumped out of her skin coming face to face with an upside down, dangling rat dog/goat/road tar demon who had secured himself to the top of the door's molding by his spiked tail.

"Scared you!" Barry chortled.

"Did not." Cami brushed passed him into the hallway putting a sternness to her step that might hide how much he'd startled her. The hallway looked to go on for miles with no end in sight. The more she walked, the further it stretched, until she turned to head back to the room and found it too had been replaced with just more hallway. The same handful of pictures on the walls, the same antique wall-hugging tables, and the same oil lamps repeated again and again for as long as she could see in either direction.

"Barry? Brianna?" Cami called down the hallway. When no answer came, she tried, "Carbuncle?"

When no answer came, she decided to inspect one of the paintings, which, in her slightly muddled logic, might have been what caused Barry to appear in the first place. The three pictures next to the table were portraits of three fairly ugly, moderately obese, and unhappy looking women, who, by the set of their eyes, dimple in their chin, and slope of their nose, were likely sisters.

"Oh my God, I'm so happy to see you." Brianna immediately pressed into Cami's back, wrapping her hands around her waist, and nearly knocking Cami face-first into the wall.

"The pictures do work!" Cami exclaimed.


"Nothing," she said shyly, "I'm happy to see you too."

Cami reached her hands down to place them over Brianna's around her waist, but her girlfriend move them away first, taking Cami's hands and positioning them with palms flat against the wall. Before Cami could protest, she felt Brianna's hot breath along her bare shoulders and neck, followed closely by pillowy lips. Cami murmured a half-hearted protest, but didn't move for fear it might be heeded. Brianna's hands made their way up Cami's sides, across to her stomach, and cupped both her breasts with firm, eager fingers. She ventured a glance over her shoulder, Brianna's lips came away to meet hers in a soft kiss, sweet enough to distract Cami from the hands slowly pulling down the front of her costume to liberate her perky, alabaster breasts. When Brianna's fingers pinched lightly over her nipples, dragging them to stiff attention, Cami broke the kiss to let out a little "eep" of pleasure. A little more teasing, and some meaningful pressing of Brianna's heaving breasts into her back, drew the apparently desired result from Cami of arching her back; Brianna's hands immediately moved from her breasts, to intertwine fingers through the hair at the back of Cami's head, pulling back every so slight to hold her firmly in the arched pose.

The question of tops and bottoms flashed through Cami's mind. To that point, there really hadn't been a whole lot of either taking charge, which had left their sex-life a little vanilla in places Cami might have hoped for kink and a little less defined than she had come to know from previous lovers. If she were to be honest, and it was kind of hard not to be with her head pulled back by her hair, she really wanted to be topped; this desire, against her wishes, poured out from her mouth in a long, wet, "yessssss."

Brianna, standing directly behind her now, apparently took the utterance for complete submission to the act. Cami could feel Brianna's thumb running flat along her back, caressing the space between her cheeks until the silky material of her costume pressed ever so slightly between them, with her hand making its way down to the thin material barely covering Cami's now fully interested soft lips. Brianna's soft fingers caressed her through the costume with her thumb held back to make slow passes along the same line it had been traveling in the crevice of Cami's behind. Each stroke brought Cami's already taut body to more acute arousal until Brianna could apparently feel the hard little bead she'd been searching for.

When her fingers played across it, even through the material, Cami groaned in the unabashed way only true pleasure could conjure. Brianna pushed her forward against the wall, letting Cami rest her forehead on the scant space between the portraits of the three sisters. She could feel the paintings watch them, their eyes straining to the center to look down Cami's back to what was being done to her, and she didn't care; moreover, part of her wanted to give the stuffy old women in the pictures a show, so she leaned into it, or, more precisely, leaned back into Brianna's hand.

Slowly at first, Brianna put her hand into a riding motion with Cami moving her hips in time, the hand in her hair acting as the reins. The desire for a gallop rose in her until she was eagerly pushing herself against the familiar hand, struggling against the rider's pull on her hair, and bucking herself toward the hot, tingly finish line. Brianna responded with control, slowing her pace, to create a teasing longing that drove Cami to squirm. The delicious agony of being drawn back from the brink of climax didn't go without a few pained whimpers from Cami, which seemed to thrill her lover even more. Cami could hear Brianna breathing heavier, feel the warmth of her body flooding across the short distance between them, and smell the overpowering scent of lemon poppy-seed muffins with an undeniable undertone of Brianna's own growing wetness.

When Cami had calmed just enough to feel an iota of control over herself again, Brianna's fingers pushed aside the bottom of Cami's costume to the soft, eager pussy below. With Brianna's fore and middle finger on opposite sides of Cami's clit, like a little cigarette, any move Cami made back and forth stroked her closer and closer to the climax she'd already been denied once. On her second attempt, moving her hips in the most pleasing rhythm she could find, Brianna seemed more eager than her for things to build toward a sticky, satisfying conclusion. She tugged lightly on Cami's hair, giving her a meaningful bump of her hips against Cami's behind, until they settled into an every-growing rocking motion, pushing closer and closer to the edge.

Cami couldn't tell if she threw her head back or if Brianna pulled it, but she found herself arched at the point of climax to let out a long, loud scream of primal pleasure, her green eyes opened to narrow slits, just enough to spot lewd smiles spreading across the lips of the three sisters in the paintings. When her head fell forward in the slow tremors of aftershock orgasms, as she'd come to call them, she felt the full warmth of Brianna's body press up against her back and the hot, eager breath of her lover cascading across her shoulder and neck, setting a few strands of her black hair to flutter.

To their right, Cami heard a door panel slide open, and someone ask for a password. "Carbuncle," a voice on the other side of the door said, and the front door flew open on them with Lewis and half-a-dozen other costumed vampires standing on the porch looking in.

Cami pulled up the front of her costume, not before accidentally giving a brief flash of white breasts to the crowd while Brianna pulled the bottom of Cami's costume back into place although there was little doubt, from the obvious wet spot and wrinkles, what had been going on.

"We can come back in an hour," Lewis said, "if you two still need more time."

Cami gave Brianna a worried look. Her girlfriend flushed red from exertion simply blushed and shrugged. "We were just leaving," Cami said. She ventured a glance over her shoulder on the way out to the portraits of the three sisters; one of them winked to her.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sex & Relationship Advice

Let me start by saying I am not a mental health professional, I hold no advanced degrees in counseling or psychology, and I don't take payments of any kind from people whose questions I answer. My background, if you must know, is in creative writing and political science. I have always been very open about my credentials, or lack thereof as a sex advice/relationship advice columnist/blogger/tweeter. I am someone who has had a lot of sex and someone who is in a healthy long-term relationship. Most, if not all, of the questions I get are innocuous and are answered with reassurances and never with medical advice which I am not qualified to give.

Part of why I think I get sex advice question and why sex advice is actually something fairly common in the U.S. is that the sex education in this country sucks. I came out at 14, so I went through the vast majority of high school as an out lesbian. Do you know how much sex education in high school dealt with LGBT issues? None. Gay teen boys in my high school didn't know the first thing about the risks of anal sex and lesbian girls weren't told word one about dental dams. Never mind that the straight students weren't properly advised on safe-sex (we were an abstinence only sex ed school so we had TONS of pregnant teens and STDs). I don't advise teenagers, I don't know how to set up sex education programs, but with the current state of things, it's not remotely surprising to me that many of the questions I get are from 18-20 year old lesbians who have no idea what is going on. I advocate for a more inclusive, more comprehensive, and more preventative system of sex-education in this country, but I do not include freelance sex advice columnists in this equation.

I've often made the joke that the only difference between a sex advice columnist and a loud-mouth slut was only one of them had a publisher willing to print what they said (Thank you Sass Magazine!). My advice is based on my experience and belief of what is healthy sexual practices for adults and how to maintain healthy relationships. My views do not encompass all lesbian or female opinions and I'm always open when I know very little about something and will usually do the necessary background research to inform myself before answering (even if it means watching gushing videos...which I did, and I'm scarred). The beautiful thing about this is, I invite other opinions and answers on these blogs and my column at the magazine. There's a comment section for both. If anyone thinks they can answer the question better, by all means, answer and give the reader another choice to consider; I won't delete anyone for disagreeing with me. If people want to ask a dozen sex advice columnists, their personal therapist, and spiritual guru and then pick their top three favorite answers, that is fine by me. I do not pretend to know everything and I won't claim I have the one true answer to any question.

What I hope people will get from my columns, blogs, and tweets is entertainment and much-needed reassurance and direction in pursuing sexual and relationship fulfillment. I like to think I'm at least a little bit funny in text, I have an extremely active sex life with my partner that includes tons of experimentation, and I'm just offering a perspective I think might be missing from the overcrowded landscape.

To quickly cover a couple of questions I've received through Twitter:

The first question came from a first time bisexual/potential future lesbian who was just now experimenting with her first possible girlfriend in her early twenties. She was concerned because, in the past, her male lovers had failed to bring her any real satisfaction or pleasure (I'm hoping this was a big tip off that she might be gay). So she expressed a concern that she didn't want to be the same lousy lay her boyfriends were in the past. She wanted to know what she should do to make sure she brought pleasure to her new partner, and asked me for advice on how to do that. (By the way, this is the question I get most often)

Valid question and valid concerns. I can just hear all the other lesbians in my readership pulling out their frustrated hair about yet another "bisexual" college girl who is sick of men and deciding to experiment with women. Ladies, take a moment, calm down, and let's give the benefit of the doubt. Let's also give me a little credit...>:)

My very first advice is: go down on the girl. In fact, this is a requirement. Let's call this one of the true litmus tests for bisexuality or lesbianism. If you like eating pussy, you're at least in the running. Having a girl eat you out is not going to cover experimentation and it certainly won't help in the quest to please your partner. My dear, you must eat pussy in your first sexual encounter.

Second piece of advice is to make use of your natural home-field advantage. You have a pussy and breasts and so does she, so you have at least a starting point to figuring out what she likes by starting with what you like and adjusting from there. You also know what a clit looks like and where it is, so you've already got a head start over the boyfriends who couldn't get you off.

Which brings me to the third piece of advice: pay attention and ask questions. Physiological cues aren't exactly difficult to read. A bored look in the eye or screaming and bucking can tell you which direction you should go in and what you should do more of or less of. If you're getting confused by the body signs, for fuck sake, pull the vagina over to the side of the road and ask for directions. Odds are, she's just waiting for you to ask. If she's a shy girl who doesn't want to physically tell you, ask her to guide your hand or head, or simply emote in a certain way, "yes, yes, YES!" can be as clear of a message as "lick my clit in circles." She might find something new that she likes that no one has ever bothered trying with her in this type of sexual hotter/colder game too.

The second question I got was from a young woman who was looking for advice on how to start coming out to her family and friends this summer, which I thought was a lovely project to work on over the break. I also would love to see a society in the future that nobody would ever have to ask this sort of question because being gay wouldn't be so stigmatized that we had to have a potentially life-threatening and/or life-altering event like coming out. Of course, most of us live in a country where gay marriage bans are still getting voted into existence and gay hate crimes still occur on a daily basis, so I'll set aside my dreams of utopia and answer.

Step 1: Create a list - This list should evaluate everyone you need to come out to based on how they are likely to react. These are your friends and loved ones, so you should be able to assess in general terms what you think they might say or do. Also order who you need to come out to based on who can help you come out to the rest of the list so you can come out to them first and have some allies. Also figure out who is a giant blabber mouth who might come out to everyone for you in a really unpleasant, gossipy way and you can tell them last, the lousy snitches.

Step 2: Use your list wisely - As I said before, life-threatening is an increasingly rare side-effect of coming out, but by no means an impossibility. If you have someone on your list who has the potential to react violently, do your coming out in a public place or with defenders around. Protect yourself through preparation even if you only think someone MIGHT react badly. Don't sacrifice your safety for their feelings.

Step 3: Get your support system in order - This is going to be rough and emotional and draining and you are going to need some help. If you don't have much of a support system, find a Gay and Lesbian support group or center to help you out. These exist nearly everywhere and are plentiful online if you live in the boonies. This can also be accomplished by coming out to your biggest fans first (usually your mom and best friend) and then having them help you complete the rest of your list.

Step 4: Accept that you might lose people - Coming out isn't like the Navy SEALs or Avenger's League or whichever one doesn't leave people behind. You might run into family members or friends who are not okay with it and plan on making it known how not okay they are with it every chance they get. Let them know that you love them, you wish they would change their mind, but if they can't accept you for who you are, then they don't need to be in your life until they can. This is hard (see the support group you made in step 3 to help you through). Friends and family do not have eternal, unrestricted access to you just because they are your friends and family. If they're going to be dicks about it, you don't need to talk to or see them. Denying them access to you will preserve your sanity and emotional health, and will give them a good reason to change their attitude.

Step 5: Coming out doesn't have to mean to the world - Out and proud is great, and I encourage it, and I love living my life this way, but I'm not out to everyone simply because my 75-year-old Korean grandma living in Korea can just live out the rest of her days not knowing. It's a hassle I don't need, a strain on her she doesn't need, and it just doesn't come up often enough for it to be worth the inevitable explosion that would ripple out to rest of my family. If things change, I can change my plan, but for the time being, I'll let time and death do what time and death do. Make up your own mind on whether or not you have relatives you feel this way about, you may not, or you may think the blowup is worth it, I can't decide that for you, but I do think it is an option to leave on the table when making your list.

Step 6: Enjoy your new life as out and proud! It's a wonderful world and we're glad to have you in it.