Thursday, August 31, 2017

Jesus was an Alien & my Minister was an Atheist

by Giselle Renarde

My girlfriend believes that Jesus was an alien.

If you say to her, "Hey, Sweet, do you believe that Jesus was an alien?" she'll say no, no, no, not really. But you'll notice a glint in her eye, and if you know her as well as I do, you'll realize she's not being entirely honest with you.

She'll go on to say "for argument's sake" that it's entirely possible Jesus was an alien. "I mean, if someone from 200 years in the past were to see you using modern technology, they would think it was some kind of magic, right? Jesus is reputed to have performed all these miracles. Isn't it possible he just came from a more advanced civilization--whether that be from Earth's future, from another planet, or, more likely, from another dimension? From a race of beings that could adapt their physical forms to look human?"

Clearly, she's contemplated this topic quite a lot.

I haven't spent a great deal of my adult life thinking about Jesus, or religion in general. But when I was thirteen, religion was my bag, man! I loved reading about religion. Religions. I never read the Bible, but the Ramayana? Yup. The Bhagavad Gita? Check. I would peruse the shelf of sacred texts at the public library and read everything I could possibly understand.

And what did I understand as a thirteen-year-old? Excellent question. Probably more than I'd understand now. I feel like I've spent my entire adult life in an ever-quickening process of stupidification. I swear I used to be smarter than this.

But I digress.

There was a rule in my family, which came from a rule in my mom's family: kids go to the local United Church until they turn 14, at which point they can decide whether or not they want to continue attending.

That's why 13 was such a big year for me, religion-wise. This was a huge decision, something I took very seriously. Did I want to continue attending a Christian church? There were so many other religions in the world. Should I choose a different one?

My family wasn't churchy in the least. My father was too hung over to do much of anything on Sunday mornings. My mom "has always been a follower" (direct quote from my grandmother, there) so you could tell her pretty much anything and she'd buy into it. She only started taking me and my siblings to church in the first place because, when I was 6, I asked, "What is God?" and neither of my parents knew how to answer that question.

I don't remember my father's parents ever going to church, but I spent lots of time having deep philosophical conversations with my maternal grandparents: an atheist and an agnostic.

The only people in my family who really talked about God either questioned the existence of a divine entity, or staunchly disbelieved. (It was my grandfather's participation in WWII that convinced him God could not possibly exist, because a divine being would never allow the atrocities he witnessed to occur.)

As a kid, I was magnetically drawn to mysticism, and I really appreciate all the time my grandparents spent talking with me about this topic that seemed of vital and immediate importance. I didn't understand how all the other adults in my life could be so disinterested. If I asked my mom questions about God and spirituality and world religions, her eyes would glaze over and she'd tell me she never thought about those things. She wasn't interested in thinking about those things.

Now that I'm the age my mom would have been when I was asking all those questions, I get it. I experience spiritual joys, mostly interacting with the natural world, but spirituality is not something I actively think about or even attempt to process.

As a 13-year-old researching which religion was right for me, I ultimately decided... none. I felt that I was a spiritual entity, but I was just so put off by the massive corruption that seemed to accompany every organized religion I researched.

When I attended my childhood church later in my teens (I guess to keep an eye on the little ones or as a favour to my mother? I don't remember) there was a new minister, someone who has since become infamous as an author and atheist.

I remember her saying that Christianity wasn't the "right" religion. The United Church wasn't the "right" church. Different religions were right for different people, and any religion could be the right religion. It was up to the individual to use their religious beliefs to do good in the world, and not to use dogma as a tool of oppression.

Now I'm thinking: Right on! Sing it, sister!

But at the time, I thought... if my own minister doesn't believe this is the "right" religion, why should I?

When I turned fourteen, I decided to go it alone. One day I came across a word, "freethinker", and that sounded good to me. I wanted to be free to think and analyze and process the world against an internal sounding board, not a book or a building.

These days, if I'm asked to fill out demographic information, I check the box that says "No religious affiliations."

And that's fine. Authors are supposed to be all introspective and stuff, but I guess I've grown away from 13-year-old me. I just don't think about these things anymore.

On another topic, can you believe I've written a novel's worth of blog posts here at The Grip over the past four years? That's a lot of words! So I've decided to package them up into themed ebooks for your reading pleasure (and the reading pleasure of people who don't tune in here). 

The first in the series is available now. It's free, but not forever, so if you've got friends who are committed to failure, tell them to grab a copy of How to Fail Miserably at Writing!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

This I Believe: The Erotic Author Manifesto

Last week, the erotic community was in turmoil over an apparent erotica purge at Barnes & Noble, followed immediately by Amazon doing… something… to all KDP accounts. I blogged about it here.

In a nutshell, I believe it was the typical “bad behaviour” from those authors who are chasing the quick buck — those who broke all the rules and brought unwanted attention and scrutiny on the erotic community — that were the source of this turmoil. For example, authors of incest erotica categorizing their story as coming of age fiction, and things like that. You know, those who ignore the boundaries we respect in the erotic industry. (I also blogged about that in the same post, which you can find here.)

This fortnight’s topic — This I Believe — is the perfect launching point.

That post on my blog was about authors doing all the wrong things. So, if there are wrong things, then what are the right things?

That’s a tricky question.

But I came up with a few guiding principles.

Thus, I present to you:


This genre is open to everyone.
Everyone can read it and everyone can write it. It is our duty to welcome new authors to the fold and to support them, as we have benefitted from the support of others. It is our duty to make this space and welcoming and positive environment for readers. Karma works its way through the erotic author community; good deeds will come back to you. So too will bad deeds.

All kinks are welcome.
We are a sex-positive community. That means that even if there’s a kink that’s not our thing, we don’t disparage it or look down our noses at those who enjoy it. Every kink brings joy and pleasure to someone; we have no right to judge them for it. (However, the caveat to this is that full consent is a requisite.)

All genders and orientations are welcome.
Like with kinks, you might be heterosexual and the thought of homosexual sex makes you a bit squeamish — but that doesn’t make gay sex wrong. This space is open for those who identify as male, female, and anything between or outside of those two identities. We welcome readers and authors who identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, two-spirit, ace, demi, intersex, fluid, and more.

We will respect the box we’re in.
We are sex-positive, but the wider world is not always so. To protect ourselves, our community, and to continue to thrive, we will respect the boundaries put on us. This means categorizing and tagging our works appropriately, being honest, and being professional.

Erotic writing is a profession.
Whether we make a lot of money or next to nothing, writing erotic fiction is a profession and we take pride in what we do. We support others and are supported by others. We ensure that we are putting our highest quality work online. We continue to learn and grow and develop, and we support others as they do the same.

We are a community.
Writing, publishing, and selling books is not a competitive venture — we are not trying to outdo each other. Readers can and do choose several books from several authors. We are a community, a team, a family — and the more we work together, the more successful and happier we will be.

Any thoughts? Anything missing that should be added?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Forever Aquarius (#idealism #compassion #magic)

By Lisabet Sarai

Harmony and understanding,
Sympathy and trust abounding,
No more falsehoods or derisions,
Golden living dreams of visions,
Mystic crystal revelation,
And the mind’s true liberation...

Age of Aquarius” by James Rado and Jerome Ragni
From Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical (1967)

I was born on January 31st, smack in the middle of the period for the sun-sign Aquarius. Although I’ve never put much stock in astrology—I find it difficult to believe that remote stars and planets could influence our personalities or our fates—I have to admit that my character fits the classic description of the Water Bearer amazingly well. Aquarians are supposed to be independent dreamers, intellectuals, humanitarians and idealists. Sometimes they are contrary and rebellious against authority when it conflicts with their visions. Compared to some other signs, Aquarians may seem emotionally remote; they live in their heads more than their bodies.

Recognize me? I do.

I was also born in the mid-nineteen fifties, so I came of age in the sixties and seventies. Songs from the musical “Hair” were my anthems as a teen. I was convinced that a new dawn truly was on its way, that “the times they are a-changing”, in the words of another icon of those years. Compassion and love would overcome hatred. Justice would vanquish oppression. Peace would reign. Creativity would flourish. A new openness and mutual respect would liberate us from the societal prohibitions and taboos about sexuality, leading to greater happiness and satisfaction for all.

What a dreamer, right? Look around you. Disasters, violence, famine. Ignorant, selfish materialism. Global warning. Nuclear proliferation. Rape and other atrocities. Millions of human beings worldwide forced from their homes, struggling to survive in strange lands where they are demonized and distrusted.

Surely I must be disillusioned.

Not really.

If you do the math, you’ll figure out that I’m now in my sixties. And after more than six decades on earth, I still believe in the power of love and compassion. I’ve seen the magic of kindness work wonders on a personal level. I’ve observed first hand the beauty of community, the power of people working together for good. And I’m totally convinced of the truth of karma, which also happens to be a foundational principle of magic: what we sow, we reap.

I have seen how violence breeds violence, how the oppressed can easily become oppressors. I question whether there’s such a thing as a “just war”. When I read about a terrorist or a white supremacist, about gay people beaten or murdered by homophobic gangs, about Buddhists slaughtering Muslims in Myanmar, Israelis attacking Palestinians and vice versa, Sunnis and Shias trading bombs, I try to remember that each of these individuals is a human being—more like me than different.

We all want and need certain things: food, shelter, family, security, status, a level of comfort. Love. Much of the horror we see around us stems from fear on the part of the part of the perpetrators: fear of scarcity, of losing resources or power or status, and fear of the Other. Politicians and governments deliberately stoke these fears for their own benefit. Take away the fear and maybe the opponents will see that they are not so different.

I’m not traditionally religious, but I believe in John 4:18:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

I believe in the basic goodness of humanity and the overall upward trend of society. Furthermore, statistics support my beliefs.

World hunger statistics show that the number of hungry has dropped twenty percent since the nineties:

Worldwide, violence has declined dramatically or time:

Meanwhile other positive indicators, like literacy, educational level and political freedom, have improved:

The educational, economic, social and health status of women relative to men continues to get better, though major inequalities still exist:

Impressive progress has been made toward fulfilling the United Nations’ ambitious Millenium Development Goals (MDG), though there is still much to do:

So why does it seem that we’re living in the most violent, heartless, miserable, insecure period in history? The media have a great deal to do with this. Stories about conflict, crime, disasters and atrocities attract more attention and sell more advertising than those about harmonious communities or successful mediation. The instant availability of news from anywhere, plus the fact that such news is more likely to be negative than positive, lead us to the perception that the world has never been in worse shape and is going to straight to hell.

Do we face serious challenges? Of course we do. From what I can see, though, taking a negative perspective exacerbates these problems, instead pushing us to solve them. Anger is not a reliable long-term motivator. It may catalyze dramatic, sudden action, but is unlikely to contribute to analytic thinking. Despair saps the will completely. Negativism fuels amoral selfishness; if the world’s about to end, why shouldn’t I do what I feel like and damn the social consequences?

Many readers may be shaking their heads. “She’s a deluded optimist,” they’re saying. “A soft-headed pacifist. We’ve got to fight 45, fight the Nazis, fight the North Koreans, fight the Islamic terrorists, fight the male chauvinists, fight for equality, fight for a decent wage, fight for our piece of the pie...”

I believe that if you view your life as a fight, it will become one.

I’ll work for the things I believe, but I’m not going to cast that activity as a war, because I don’t want to think of my fellow humans as enemies (difficult as it may be to avoid this).

Seriously, I believe that our minds control our experiences. I am convinced that so-called reality is malleable, shifting as we change how we think about it.

And I’m working to make the Age of Aquarius more than just a song.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


I read an article in 2016 about the value of the beta-male. It praised all the qualities of that particular breed of dude, and celebrated the way he works as part of a team rather than trying to break that team apart just to reassemble it to his own specifications.
While the article was almost certainly written with an agenda, I found it an enjoyable read not so much for any new information it imparted, but more because of a feeling of justification. For my own beta-male status, and for the status of nearly every hero Willsin Rowe has ever written.
(I phrase it that way because, as Abi Aiken, I've co-written a few Alpha males. And as a whole other pen-name, I've solo written several others.)
My story "Playing House" features a male lead who is quite simply too even-tempered and understanding a guy to be the quintessential Romance Alpha Male. I wasn't trying anything smarty-pants, like "breaking the genre" with him, I was simply writing a dude who I'd like to be friends with. I did actually expect to get marked down in reviews for making him a beta-male. Turns out the blisteringly-negative reviews all came from a hatred of my heroine. I don't think Mark even got noticed in those cases, but then that might simply be more evidence of his non-Alpha status. If he didn't annoy any of the readers who disliked the story, then he definitely wasn't Alpha enough!
I am, in fact, planning to release several other stories which are unrelated to Playing House but which will also feature a more measured and adaptable hero than Alpha Males tend to be. They'll all be under a loose heading of something like Beautiful Betas.
I do believe my attraction to beta-males is more than just the fact I can see myself in them. It also has a basis in the fact I don't particularly enjoy the company of most men. I didn't form good relationships with other males in childhood, due to moving around a lot and having only a sister as a constant companion, among other things. I find myself too globally-logical to make the usual macho assertions about my place at the top of every single food chain I've ever seen. While male relationships are far more complex than just that, it seems they all have to pass through that stage in order to become complex. I simply don't have the stamina to get through the metaphorical cock-measuring.
I'd rather spend my time with women, and a quick check of my Facebook friends list would add weight to that concept. I don't know the numbers but I'd be surprised if dudes made up more than 10% of that list.
One of my other little bug-bears about it all is actually an odd complaint. From late primary school onward, people have seen in me the qualities of Alpha. As soon as they possibly could, they'd install me as captain of whatever team I was in. I say it's an odd complaint because surely one of the elements of being an Alpha is that people recognise you as one. Of course, an even more important element is seeing that trait within yourself. If you need to be TOLD you're an ain't one, in my opinion.
I've always seen in myself the qualities of being an excellent vice-captain, deputy, lieutenant...essentially, I'm a brilliant 2IC.
Anyway, back to the article.
Finding that piece was interesting in and of itself, but it inspired me to go searching for something more scientific. After all, it was more of a human interest thayng than hard evidence or data.
The first thing I found was a website which took a drastically different approach.
It's actually rather difficult to sum up, but essentially, it revolved around how the Alpha Male gets it all. Lands all the jobs. Drives all the cars. Fucks all the pussies (or all the asses AS LONG AS THEY'RE WOMEN'S ASSES, BECAUSE GAYS ARE, LIKE, TOTES NOT ALPHAS AND SHIT AND YOUS DON'T WANNA BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE NON-ALPHA HOMOS AND SHIT LIKE THAT, RIGHT, YA PUSSY! AND NOTICE HOW IT WASN'T A QUESTION! AND NEITHER WAS THAT...IT WAS AN ORDER TO NOTICE IT WASN'T A QUESTION!)
That second site was not content to simply define in the narrowest sense exactly what an Alpha Male is, it also took the time to point out in strong, derogatory terms, exactly why it was that beta-males were just no damn good. I don't recall it mentioning gammas or omegas or...uh...lambda males. The overall tone of the website was haranguing at the very least. Urging all men to get on board and learn the traits and behaviours of Alpha Males (I'm starting to feel I should put a ™ on that).
I digress, though, so let me bring it back around to where I started.
That article I first mentioned was written by a woman, about her husband. About the many and varied ways his beta-male behaviour complemented her own needs and wants, and how they were a team working toward a similar goal. Paying their bills, feeding their children, striving for a fulfilling life. Each of them taking turns being strong because the other needs time to be weak. It's not the stuff of Romance novels, but it certainly doesn't go astray in real life.
The website I mentioned later? Well, there would be no prizes for guessing it was not only written by a was the website for his Alpha Male Training Course. The ol' "give me tons o' cash and I'll show you how not to be sucked in by people like me telling you you're no damn good" trick. Do Exactly As I Say, Every Day For The Rest Of Your Life And You'll Never Have To Take Orders Again!
Alpha Males definitely have their place. And despite my own tone throughout this blog, I do respect the true Alphas in our world. They're not always likable, and that's part of the point.
But my heart will always be with the betas. We're the world's vice-captains...and we're often excellent captains of vice! Fnarr fnarr...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Boss of Me

 by Daddy X

Even as a child I had a sense of being both top and bottom. Of course, back then it was more a matter of “I’m the boss of Clifford, and Joey’s the boss of me.” I could discern the laddered status we assume within a group. At the time I thought of it as a developing awareness of adult concepts, and how those concepts structure the building blocks of our lives, though at the time I probably wouldn’t have worded it like that.

Years later, a heightened gender awareness… ahem… reconstructed and rearranged those assumptions. Life got more complicated. Now any girl was usually the boss of me, as long as I had goo-goo eyes for her. My attraction to girls who had a crush on me, however, seemed to operate in a state of flux. Maybe we weren’t on the same intellectual level. Would she or wouldn’t she let me touch her in private places? Private places like the dead-end road where we ‘parked’. The private places of her body.


There was one girl who had the biggest crush on me. Let’s call her Wendy. Chased me from 7th grade through 11th . She’d invite me to the class dance months in advance, not leaving an opportunity for me to ask someone else. I could have called the shots, but never could say no to Wendy.

I knew how bad it felt just having a girl refuse to slow dance at a Saturday night record hop. I’d feel so rejected I might not ask another girl all night. How could I refuse to go to an event with Wendy? She really liked me, and I appreciated that. And though I adopted the attitude of a tough guy, I never achieved the accepted idea of an alpha, at least not enough to make her feel bad.

Of course, I still don’t think a man should knowingly make a girl feel bad. (God knows we do it enough by accident.) Again, even at such tender age, I realized the irony of those dynamics. Why couldn’t a crush of mine coincide with a girl who felt the same about me?

And, Wendy wouldn’t put out.

The nature of relationships can shift when our assumptions take on challenges we hadn’t considered beforehand. What if someone gets sick? Or loses a job? Which partner will call the shots in the sex department? What if, after the honeymoon fuckfest has worn off, one has a larger, broader libido then the other?  Who will have to go wanting? Who will have it up to here?  

Ideally a pragmatic (and loving) couple can suss out each other’s strengths and weaknesses, finding a place on the ladder most comfortable for each. Trick is to take on or relinquish control within a given area:

Momma X, having worked in book production, is eminently qualified to structure our social life and to keep detailed track of bills and finances. I, on the other hand, take control in the kitchen, the car, and generating cash flow through “farming” and art and antiques. She’s much neater than I, and keeps the house presentable. We offer supporting roles, no matter if I’m pointing the way or she is.

Our respective duties tend to balance each other out. Sometimes I’m the boss of her. More often, she’s the boss of me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

There’s a time and a place

I’ve given this a lot of thought over the last week or so, in preparation for writing this post, and I can’t honestly come up with any examples of male characters who weren’t alpha, at least some of the time. Maybe this is a reflection of my taste in reading matter, but there you have it.

But an alpha male doesn’t need to be ‘on duty’ the entire time.  I prefer a hero who can be vulnerable, or wrong, or just plain incompetent at something. I’ve written loads of those, and they seem like real men to me. I meet men like that all the time.

In First Impressions my alpha male is something of a nerd, a whizz kid who makes a good living out of IT software design but can’t tell one end of a screwdriver from the other. He has to rely on the single mother, a local plumber who answers his cry for help, to fix his boiler and generally make his house habitable.

Another of my titles, Tell Me, features a very successful businessman who still needs to bring in an ultras-efficient head of finance to unravel a fraud in his accounts department.

In another of my books, a novella this time, Carrot and Coriander, the hero is a petty crook, new out of prison who is trying to go straight. He needs work so he’s prepared to do laboring jobs, tidying up gardens, whatever. He finds himself working for a self-employed accountant, and then his true, dominant, colours start to show.

My point is, there’s a time and a place. An alpha who never puts a foot wrong, who knows everything, can handle every situation with aplomb and ruthless efficiency is too one-dimensional for my taste. And not believable. I’m not convinced he’s even that likeable, and readers do need to like the main characters, I find.

A part-time alpha allows an opportunity for others to shine too – the sassy, intelligent heroine, the charismatic partner, the less confident characters who can flourish in the right environment. A true alpha doesn’t need to put others down to be dominant. He (or she) can bring out the best on those around them, the Pygmalion effect. That’s often hinted at in BDSM stories, the experienced Dom who sees in the new submissive qualities which even she (it’s invariably a she) was previously unaware of, under whose firm but sensitive coaching she is able to recognize and claim her true nature. It’s something of a fantasized arc, but it works beautifully. 

In this excerpt from Carrot and Coriander, Callum is experiencing that moment of recognition.

“I’ve got soup.”
The quiet, feminine voice startled him. He hadn’t heard her approach, so she must have come out of the back door this time. Watching him when she thought he couldn’t see her, and now sneaking up behind him. She made him uneasy, edgy even. Truth was, he was itching to get his hands on her. His grubby, rough hands all over her smooth perfection. Not that he would. Well, not unless she asked very nicely.
She shifted, dropped her gaze again as she started to back away. Callum realised he’d been glaring at her. Shit—no good came of scaring his customers. But there was something about her manner, her shyness, that appealed. That seemed familiar. Surely she wasn’t…? Wouldn’t…? Would she?
“I’m sorry. I was miles away. What did you say?” He pushed his lips into a grin of sorts. The friendliest he could conjure up at short notice. But he was trying.
“Soup. Carrot and coriander. I made it. Lots of it. Too much just for me and Jacob. I wondered if you’d like some. For lunch or maybe you could take some with you…”
Her voice trailed away, and he pulled himself up short as he caught himself glaring again. Bad habit. But soup! Did he look like the carrot and coriander sort? He was about to refuse, as politely as he could manage, but something stopped him. Maybe her obvious nervousness around him—was she actually shaking? And he did like carrots at least. Occasionally.
“Thank you. Soup would be…nice.” Had he actually just said that?
Apparently he had because she smiled, her face lighting up before she dropped her gaze again. But not before he noticed she had green eyes, reminding him of a rather nice BMW he’d once nicked. Her hair was a definite red now he saw it up close, with chestnut highlights. He smiled back. A real smile this time, his pleasure genuine because she was sweet, nice, and he was beginning to think she might be so much more.
“Would you like to join me? Unless you’ve got other plans, of course…”
‘Other plans’ would have extended only as far as the fish and chip shop two streets away. He found himself accepting her invitation to lunch, and it was not until  afterwards that he remembered he was filthy, hadn’t showered in days, and probably smelt like mouldy cheese. Still, it was done now. And he could always have his soup outside.
Except she had other ideas. “Great. Lovely. Just come on inside then, when you’re ready. I’ll be in the kitchen.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Curse of the Unwilling Beta

Sacchi Green

Warning! I’m jumping the shark here, going off in a direction that doesn’t fit the intent of our theme at all, but this has been so much on my mind lately that I need to vent.

I totally agree that men we might consider betas rather than alphas can be very appealing, but usually, I’m guessing, only when they‘re secure in who they are and not obsessed with ranking systems like alpha and beta.

It’s occurred to me before, and has become even more apparent with the alt-right/white supremacist/nazi demonstrations lately, that men who are drawn to these political groups are struggling to climb from an unwilling beta status to alphas, however they may define the terms. They feel victimized, unrespected, somehow oppressed even if they have to make up straw-man oppressors, and are easily convinced that their “white” status should qualify them as alphas. If they had any other source of pride, like skills, intelligence, good jobs, they wouldn’t have as much need to try for respect—including self-respect—on the basis of their color and ethnicity. The problem is compounded by the almost universal concern with hyper-masculinity, with what they think defines a “real man.”

This also applies to those few immigrants, almost entirely males, who are attracted to extremist groups and terrorism when they can’t manage to get the respect they crave in their new country and culture. I thought of this in connection with the Boston Marathon bombers. The younger brother was getting along fairly well, in college, with friends, but he was till under the influence of the older brother who hadn’t managed to get jobs that would provide respect.

There are plenty of other factors involved in these situations, like upbringing, cultural differences, psychological tendencies, and unfortunate experiences, but if there’s one uniting force it’s an internalized feeling of being unjustly deprived of respect. And to make things worse, they feel unjustly deprived of sex, which leads to misogyny and harassment and sometimes violence against women.

I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but I read that one of the enticements offered to get participants to join the goulish demonstration in Virginia last week was the promise that “chicks” would be attracted to men standing up for their “white” rights. In short, that the men would be alphas, no longer betas. One of the main organizers, the one who’s been most interviewed and quoted, was full of swagger and what he clearly thought was manly appeal, but later did the odd thing of filming himself whining and almost crying over the fact that he might be arrested, and nobody would give him a job. Then someone dug up his profile on a major dating website. Apparently he didn’t have a girlfriend, and strutting around preaching white supremacy didn’t seem to be helping his sex life at all.

I don’t see a cure for any of this. It doesn’t help to point out that the lack of good jobs these days is due more to automation than to immigrants getting the jobs. People who feel victimized need to identify victimizers, however wrongly. And young men who cant get laid—at least not by the blonde Hollywood types of girls they’ve been conditioned to think are the only ones desirable—need to claim some reasons apart from the fact that they themselves haven’t managed to be desirable to girls. Their desperate need for self-respect may be even more powerful than their need for respect from others. Doing away with our cultural ranking of men according to how well they meet strict masculinity requirements, among them alpha-ness as opposed to beta-ness, might help, but that’s not going to happen. I guess we should be glad that it doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone to go farther down the Greek alphabet in ranking men.

That’s enough wild speculation. I know we meant some entirely different definition of beta for this week’s theme, and I apologize for going so far afield. Chalk it up to news overload and far too “interesting” times, okay?

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Betas' Lament

by Jean Roberta

[Scene: twelve white guys sitting on folding chairs in a circle, looking uncomfortable.]

First Guy: I’ll start. My name is John Green, and I’m a beta male.

Second Guy: No you’re not, man! You’ve just been beaten down when you were too young to know how to fight back. If your girlfriend in high school dumped you to go out with some hotshot football player, is that your fault? I bet you could show her a better time than he could. Am I right?

[All the guys grunt their agreement after glancing very quickly at First Guy’s crotch.]

Second Guy [realizing the dangerous path he is on]: I mean, I’m not gay or anything. I’m just saying.

Third Guy: I can’t get a job because of all these refugees who’ll work for two cents per hour.
[All the guys grunt sympathetically.]

Fourth Guy: It’s not just refugees. Let’s call it what it is. Niggers and spicks and chinks and fuckin Indians are taking our jobs.

First Guy: Whoa! Watch your language, man.

Third Guy: Yeah. I mean, I know what you’re saying, but you can’t call people degrading names nowadays.

Fourth Guy: Why not, if they taking our jobs? And I didn’t even mention the women. They’re all hiring nannies to raise their kids so they can have “careers.”

Fifth Guy: We can’t even get laid any more because if we make a move it’s called “rape.”
[Several guys nod their heads vigorously, while some look more uncomfortable than before.]

First Guy: It’s not really rape if she wants you.

Fifth Guy: But they call it that! Some of them even say we have a “rape culture.”

First Guy: Women who want sex don’t call it rape.

[All the other guys stare at First Guy.]

While the Angry Men’s Group ponders First Guy’s comments, let me introduce you to two characters in an early story of mine, “When Less Is More.” (This story is still available in my collection, Obsession, from Renaissance Publishing.)

Alighieri, who preferred to be known by his family name because of its long history, was awakened by the late-afternoon sunlight that carelessly penetrated the olive-green burlap curtains of his bedroom. Like melted butter, the light poured itself over Spondee’s blonde elf-locks as she stretched a white arm across Alighieri’s darker back. She preferred to be known as Dee, and preferred not to be known as the child of two much-published members of the English Department in the local university. “You awake?” her man growled tenderly.

“Mmm,” she smiled, admiring the discreet muscles in his chest as he rose on his elbows. The couple had spent the whole weekend eating, fucking and sleeping, and they were now as mellow as old wine.

“I want to watch the BBC version of Twelfth Night on the TV in the front room,” the host informed his guest, “and I want you to lie across me.” Dee sat up as gracefully as a dancer. “Don’t put your clothes on,” he added.

Dee was pleased because she loved being naked in the daytime.

She didn’t, however, like complacent men. “I must really enjoy your company,” she teased him. “I’m missing the women’s floor hockey.” The young man couldn’t think of a witty comeback for that so soon after waking up, so he wisely held his tongue.

Soon Alighieri, who had the dark beard and chest hair of a werewolf, was seated on his cool leather sofa with Dee stretched across his lap. His hands rested promisingly on the two firm globes of her bottom as her nipples brushed the leather upholstery while she adjusted her head and arms into a comfortable viewing position.

“Now you see,” he explained, continuing their previous discussion, “a position like this isn’t hard to arrange, and it contains so many possibilities. There’s so much I could do to you.”

Dee snorted. “If that scared me,” she asked him logically, “would I lie here?”

“Mighty woman warrior,” he acknowledged, almost sounding respectful. “But you know I would never really hurt you.”

“You know I’d get back at you if you did,” she countered.

Like several of the other beta males discussed here lately, Alighieri is a nerd, and he feels as if this is the logical consequence of being the distant descendant of a famous writer in the Italian Renaissance. Dee, on the other hand, is a proud rebel against academic parents.

Alighieri keeps making moves that he hopes will give him a dominant position in the relationship, and Dee keeps making counter-moves. He can’t complain about a lack of sex, but she always keeps him off-guard.

By the end of the story, he has reached an epiphany: he cares more about her than she does about him, and that is a problem with no solution.

While writing this story, I really felt for Alighieri. I wished I could give him a happier ending, but that would have felt artificial. He’s creative, he’s intellectual, he’s attractive, and I probably would have been glad to meet him in my youth, but he doesn’t fit Dee’s concept of a “real man,” and therefore he is bound to lose her eventually.

If Alighieri existed off the page (and surely there is someone like him in the real world), I hope and pray that he will learn to be philosophical about the disappointments of life and the apparently irrational nature of taste: every person wants what s/he wants, even if this makes no sense to anyone else.

I hope Alighieri won’t join the Angry Men’s Group and complain that women in general have ruined his life, along with all the other members of “minority groups” who no longer know their place. I really hope Alighieri doesn’t start asserting White Pride (he’s barely white, but logic doesn’t seem to be highly visible in these groups) and proposing to bring back slavery, or genocide. I can only hope.

Question for Discussion: Which guy in the group do you think has the best sex life?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sadsack Blowback #Writing #AgeGap #Erotica

by Giselle Renarde

I don't tend to keep on top of things.

That's especially true when it comes to the daily drama of the romance world.

But I happened to notice everybody freaking out about a chart-topper on Amazon. Apparently this book featured father/daughter incest and underage sex. It's since been removed from sale because both of those things go against Amazon's terms of service. This book's also been banned by Smashwords, and Smashwords will sell you books about getting fucked by your mom, a bull, and the family dog. It takes some effort to get your book bounced from their system.

Bottom line is you can't publish erotic books featuring sex with minors. Ever. Anywhere. This is what we've all agreed to as authors.

So that whole thing happened.

But it didn't stop there.

Because after that incident, I started seeing authors hating on other books... books wherein the main characters were not related or underage.  Books about legal adults engaged in consensual sex.

Hoo boy.  Here we go.

Remember 10+ years ago, when authors supported each other?  Helped each other?  I do.  I was blown away by the kindness and generosity other writers showed me when I was starting out in this business.

Now what do we get?  Authors tearing each other down.  Authors scratching each other's eyes out.  Petty jealousies that turn into witch hunts.  That's what I've been seeing lately.

After the rapey child molester book was taken off the market, I saw authors calling for other books to be taken down too--pretty much any book featuring an older man and younger woman. Consenting adults with an age gap.  Everything must go.

Look, I'm kind of glad nobody in that romance world really knows or cares I exist (or they've hated me for so long that it's not even fun anymore), because I've written a ridiculous amount of age gap fiction and I'm not going to stop because a bunch of angry authors think it's "disgusting." 

Why do I so often write about older men and younger women?  Because I lived it.  You know this about me. You know I was involved with one of my high school teachers, a much older man, a very married man.  I've told this story so many times you're bored just thinking about it. So am I.

Through fiction writing, I'm able to process my experiences as a teen and young adult.  I'm able to think about that time in my life from every angle.  I'm sure that, in reading my fiction, readers who've shared similar experiences are able to process their shit too. I recently heard someone say there's no "junk food" when it comes to media consumption. Even if you think of some stupid TV show you watch as a guilty pleasure, it changes you.  Everything we consume (books, movies, TV, music) works inside our brains in ways we're not even aware of.

Okay, so one thing that attracted me to the older man I was involved with was that... this might sound a little strange... but he was just so sad.  Like, really really sad. Existential ennui, despair, suicidal thoughts. I was so drawn to that.  I just wanted to make him happy.  I wanted to use my body to make him happy.

I was drawn to other qualities, too.  He seemed so knowledgeable and wise. Nobody in my family had gone past high school, and he had a MASTER'S degree. Like, wow, so educated! *swoon* Smart and sad. Shut up and take my virginity!

Did I think our relationship was fucked up while it was happening? Of course not!  I'd have gone to the ends of the earth to defend the choices we made.  Looking back, do I think it was fucked up?  Hell yes. But does that mean I regret my life choices? No, not at all. And does that mean I shouldn't fictionalize my personal experiences? No. It's my life. I'm gonna use it in my books.

"Fine, write your life--but depressing litfic only. It shouldn't be presented in a positive light."

Haha. That was the hottest sex of my life. You think I'm not going to present it that way? My libido's waning by the minute and I very often wish there was some way to recapture those delicious years.  I can't recapture them in life.  I can in fiction.

Pretty much everything I write is massively fucked up.  I'd be bored if it wasn't.  If a bunch of other authors hate me because I write taboo erotica or student/teacher sex or adultery or age play, let them hate. I stopped caring a long time ago.

Except I guess I do still get riled up, or why would I be writing these words?

And why would I have decided to post my new adult novella CHERRY for free at Wattpad?

CHERRY is one super-smutty book.

It's about an 18-year-old girl who falls for her father's best friend on vacation. It's pretty much exactly the kind of book a lot of authors seem to want to burn these days. What I keep thinking is: if a book doesn't appeal to you, DON'T READ IT.  It's obviously not for you. It's probably for the person who's been through this--who's going through it now or who went through it when they were younger.  Or maybe it's just for the reader who wants to peep some hot sex between an older man and a young woman. Why so much judgement? Sheesh.

Anyway, today I posted the first chapter from CHERRY at Wattpad so people can read it for free. I'm going to post a new chapter every day until I'm out of chapters. More info here.

People who find this kind of book offensive can skip it. Or hate-read it. I really don't care.  I'm making CHERRY available FOR FREE for the people who want to read it--to process their experiences... or just to get off.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Hound Dog Says Hello" A non-alpha male story

You should be getting this letter by airmail about two days before you leave Rome.  It’s Monday over here.  Send me a text when you get this so I know you have it and you’ve read it.  I did get your email, you’re coming back on United 3455, at Hart Jackson field 6:35pm.  I’ll be there.  I lost a couple of pounds while you were over there.
I’m writing this to you on expensive paper, with a good pen, because I want you to have this in your hand and read it to me Thursday night when you’re back with me.  I want you to read it when you’ve almost, not quite, taken off all your clothes.  When you’re almost not quite down to your panties.  Leave those on for me.  I’m sitting at that little wooden table in the back patio and I’m imagining you with those silly Betty Boop panties, with the ridiculous little ribbon bow on the top, as if they should be untied like the ribbon embracing a precious gift which of course they are.   And promise me, sweet woman; promise me you won’t let any of those idiot Italians talk you into waxing your cave woman black bush off.  I’m a bush guy, you know that.  God and the Virgin Mary put that bush on earth just for me to nuzzle my face into and thank God I’m your Hound Dog.  Leave it where it is, oh please.
I’m sitting at the table with a beer.  Thinking about the shadow of your bush behind your Betty Boop panties is giving me a hungry hard on.  I miss you so much I want to take out my dick and look at it standing up in the morning air. I have the celibate patience of a monk.  You’ll be here soon.
I’ll want you to be holding this letter as you’re coming out of the shower with your bathrobe on.  What is it about pink you like so much?  Maybe you should have curlers in your hair, yes, there is something so sincerely, gorgeously trashy about a beautiful woman, her face naked and vulnerable without make up, with plastic curlers in her hair, something Freudian and wrong, like fucking your stepmother.  And you’ll come out of the shower with this letter and I’ll come to you with a little fear in my eyes, a little hesitation and gently trap you and push you against the hallway wall and hold you there. I’ll press my face into the damp space between your neck and your shoulder and breathe your scent.
And you’ll hold up this letter and read out loud –
“  ---- Oh wait, my hair is a mess.  Get off me.  Did you know I fucked the big Italian grocer I met in the hotel?  He made me come twice. He fucked me so long I couldn’t walk. He had this big uncircumcised dick that felt so good when he put it in me.
And –
“Wait wait.  My hair is a mess.  Do you still want to go to the bed?  Can you wait?  Oh, I’m not in the mood right now, do you want to talk?  Do you want to have a big fight first to get the blood going?  Wait, wait.  Oh don’t ---- “
I’ll breathe the scent of you and lick your skin until you stop talking and go quiet.  Until you feel the dream.  I’ll rock you back and forth, as though we were dancing and then reach between us and feel for the knot of your rope belt and pull it open.  Your robe will fall open and I’ll see just the hint, just the sides of the globes of your breasts, but not yet revealed, the stars of your nipples still hidden behind a cloud, and I’ll ask you – how was your trip?
By this time my cock will fill and rise up hard and I’ll push it up against your belly so you can feel what I want.  So you’ll know how things stand.  I’ll press my lips under your chin and you’ll turn your head like you do and I’ll kiss you behind your ear because we know what that does to you.  That’s when I’ll reach inside your robe and move my hands over the top of your skin, just barely enough to feel the heat and I’ll find your breasts and move my hands light over the curves of your breasts, lift them like warm soft birds, palm the tops of your breasts, but I’ll make your nipples wait.  I want them hard. I need to see them hard.
This is where you take off your robe and let it fall.  This is where you’re under my spell.  This is the part where you’re not thinking about the bed anymore, the bed is too far away.  The walk is too long and filled with danger and distraction. No, you’re thinking about the floor because you need it now.  This is the part where you read out loud from the top of page three -
“ --- Get on your knees.  Get down on your fucking knees right now.  DO IT!”
I’ll kneel down like I’m praying to you, which I am, and my face will be level with the little Betty Boops in front of my eyes.  You can step your feet apart, making a little room there, a little thoughtful accommodation for me.  A silent come on.
I’ll press my face between the tops of your thighs, warm, thick, damp from the shower and now from something I can smell behind the thin cotton Betty Boop cloth.  I want that smell.  The hound dog in me nuzzles close, hard deep, pushing your legs apart more.  I want that smell, that damp.  Little curly hairs peeking above the cloth.  I breathe you.  I inhale you.  I kiss the cotton of you.  I feel the wiry wool of you against my nose and lips.  And here’s where you say -
“I own you, lover.  I own you.  I own your cock. I own your soul.”
Yes ma’am.  I’d say that’s about right.
While I’m in there, muffed tight between your thighs, breathing you in, sniffing for signs of guilt - have there been any visitors in there while you were gone?  And here’s where you say -
“ ---  I fucked everybody.  I loved everybody.  And now I’m home with you.  Hound dog. --- ”
I know.  I know.  We had that conversation.  Every man wants you, every man who sees you wants you - but I’m the one who gets to have you.
Now’s where I look up at you, faithful dog looking up at his owner, looking up past your belly to your half closed eyes, seeing your innocence, or a good imitation, seeing the hard bullets of your nipples blooming out past the wide moon-curve of your breasts.
Without taking my eyes off you, this is the part where I loop my fingertips into the band of your panties, tug them slow, and slow to your knees.  You’ll think I’m taking them off, but I’m not, you have to wait.  Just your knees.  Just to see the thick black delta of your big bush sparking wet from the shower and something else below.  Hello bush.  
Primitive and wild, it stops my will.  It stops my breath.  Every time.  Like a mountain range with a river canyon of pure pussy running down the middle.  You hypnotize me with your bush..  Enslave me, willingly.  In this hairy moment I would do anything you ask.  Buy you a house.  Kill.  Swear you my soul.  Please please please.  Let me.
I huff my face into the deep valley of you, lick the wet cleft and pray to you.
Here’s where you say -  
“Do me.”
Here’s where you stand bowlegged with your thighs apart, I dive in, and you bring them together, smothering me in woman flesh, gathering my hair in your fist, saying things my covered ears can’t hear as I move the tip of my tongue, finding the tip of your clit, taking it between my lips and giving it a little suck.  Then another little suck.  Setting up a rhythm, a back beat as you start squirming your hips and I know animal sounds are coming from you up above but I can’t hear and I’m not listening anyway, because there is only this.  All the world and all my being reduced to this.  This wet valley.  This damp forest.  This slick oyster flesh. This invisible little man in the little canoe I’m rubbing with my tongue tip, like that time you took my hard dick in your fist and squeezed the shaft while you sucked on the knob, and then rubbed the purple knob of my cock with your wet palm until I thought I was going to have a heart attack because the pleasure was blowing my brains out.  I want to do that to you.  I want to make you feel so good it hurts. I wantto hear you plead for more.  I want your knees to fall apart because you want to come so bad and I’m not letting you.  And that would be the moment when I press the flat of my tongue against your pussy lips like a big wet ice cream cone and stroke UP and then stroke UP and then stroke all the way UP and feel that lovely curly hair in my mouth.  Breathe.  Exhale.  Breathe warm air on your skin.  Pick up your clit and hold it between my lips.  The tongue goes in.  The tongue goes out.  The tongue goes in.  The tongue goes out.  A shudder against my lips.  Lightning in the dark.
That’s when I pull your panties down and off and fling them into eternity.
That’s when you let go of my head and say ---
“Bed.  Now, boy.”
And I say – “No.  No bed.  You don’t get to have a bed.  Beds are boring”
And you say -  “Mommy needs to fuck goddamn you!”
And I say – “Do it here.”
And that’s the part where you put your hands on my shoulders and shove me backwards and I land on the carpet on my back.  And that’s where you say -  “Mommy needs to fuck.  Take your dick out!  Mommy wants to come.  Now, stay there.”
And then, and then that would be the part where you step over me, stand right over me with your feet stepped way apart each side of my head, thighs clenched and straight as a ballerina, posing over me with your fists on your hips like I’m about to get raped by Wonder Woman.  I look up and the ceiling is blotted out by the towering hulk of you and the sky and heaven and the starry Universe are blotted out by the heaven shadow of your wet pussy right above my view.  Further up past the round of your belly, the hard bullets of your nipples blooming out a mile over the wide moon-curve of your breasts. 
You’ve got that wobble in your knees.  You got that dreamy look in your eyes way up there that says you need to lay.  My woman needs to lay.  Maybe across the bed, maybe the floor, but my woman is coming down, she needs to lay, she needs to lay her lips where she wants them to go, to finish what we started.  Your knees bending, your thighs thickening, hips coming down, heaven descending on me, your pussy licking Hound Dog.  Here.  Come here to your man.  I’m not going anywhere.  Now you’re really home. 
Lips on lips.  Rocking your bush against my nose.  Pulling back.  Forward hard again, rocking your bush against my nose, again, again.  Each time harder.  Each time a little more insistent.  Demanding all of it from me.  Each time more, the body taking over.  Stay there.  Because I want it – I'm your pussy licking Hound Dog and I want IT – give it all to me.  I want to know the hard rider in your loins. Because I’ve been waiting for you and I’m the man who wants everything you got.  Make it hurt if that’s what it takes to give it all to me.
And when you feel it, when you feel like you’re about to lose your shit, about to go faint and scream for God when you feel it radiating out from you and it’s going to happen – its got to happen – let fall this letter.  Let it fall your white flag of surrender and I’ll bring you over all the way, I’ll bring you home.  All the way home.  I’m waiting here for you.
Your Loving, Pussy Licking Hound Dog