Friday, March 30, 2018

Bury My Heart at Broken Promise

by Jean Roberta

I sometimes think the title of this post would be a good title for my life-story, or at least for a history of my relationships, previous to the current one. When I was a child, my parents made some unrealistic promises to me on behalf of the world in general, but I don’t blame them. I suspect that most loving parents promise the same things.

If you want people to like you, treat them with respect and consideration. If you want to be trusted, you have to trust. If you do your best in school, and then at work, you’ll succeed. You might even get special rewards, such as scholarships, bonuses, and promotions. If you always tell the truth, other people will respect you for it.

As I grew older, I learned that the only promises guaranteed to work are negative:

If you DON’T treat other people well, brace yourself for their reactions. If you DON’T make enough of an effort in school, you are guaranteed to fail, and then you won’t have access to a job that pays a decent wage and that offers any security. If you DON’T take your job seriously, you won’t get to keep it. Telling the truth will sometimes drive other people away, but in the long run, it’s always better than lying. Lies aren’t usually sustainable, and some can get you arrested. If you aren’t trustworthy yourself, you won’t have trustworthy people around you.

In many cases, doing things for others, doing your best, and being honest have to be their own rewards because no one else will notice or care.

The burst of responses to the "Me Too" revelations in social media remind me, once again, that men and women generally live in different cultures.

Even though LGBTQ and polyamorous communities are more visible than ever before, one-to-one heterosexual Romance still has a gravitational pull on all sexual relationships. And it still requires promises: promise me you won’t date anyone else while you’re dating me. Promise me you’ll let me know whenever you’ll be more than two hours late. In traditional Christian marriages, the man promises to love, honour, and protect “his” woman. The woman promises to love, honour, and obey her man, who is her “head” and ruler as Christ is head of the Church. O Promise Me.

While I was still a teenager, I learned about dangerous rapids in the river-journeys of some relationships. I began to ask for a promise of safety from the boys I dated: please don’t ever hit me, or force me to do anything against my will. Please don’t lie to me. Please treat me like an equal.

Most of them were shocked that I could even suggest they could be less than gentlemen. Of course they wouldn’t hit me! What did I think they were, Neanderthals? Of course they thought of me as their equal. Of course they would never lie. All that was simply common courtesy, and common sense.

Then they would casually grope me, even in public, after I had awkwardly pushed them away and asked them to stop. They would grab me in bear-hugs and kiss me in front of witnesses, laughing as though we were both playing a fun game. Whatever I did after that, my image as a “nice girl” was tarnished. In private, they would explain to me that most girls who “think” they’ve been raped have really been asking for it, so they have no right to complain. Or the “rape” was really consensual, even though the girl wouldn’t admit it, because girls are dishonest by nature.

Boys warned me not to become a “bad girl.”

On the subject of “domestic violence” (can it be domesticated?), most guys I’ve known have told me they are absolutely opposed to “real abuse.” Then they’ve told me that some women are really annoying, and that I have to understand that. A man can only take so much before he lashes out. Reckless women should stop poking the bear if they don’t want to get mauled.

While Mirtha and I were in London for four days for Eroticon, I had the strange feeling of being transported back in time. I lived in London for about nine months in 1974 with Pepple Ikiriko, the Nigerian student I met via a computer-dating site, and whom I later sponsored into Canada and married in 1975.

Pepple passed away from a heart attack on December 30, 2006, in Saskatoon (the other big town in Saskatchewan), and I only learned of this because the hospital didn’t know what to do with the body. He hadn’t named a next-of-kin, and apparently the only friend he had left at the end was Tony, a very decent Nigerian whom we had found through the local telephone directory in 1975. Luckily, Pepple hadn’t been able to drive Tony away, although he tried. It was Tony who contacted me by phone to say that funeral arrangements needed to be made.

Seeing the streets of London again gave me a strange feeling that I could see Pepple at any time, walking jauntily around a corner, looking the way he did when I first met him.

I was reminded of being young and full of hope. The first time Pepple and I had sex, I told him I was not a virgin, and he seemed amused that I felt the need to give him a warning. He wasn’t a virgin either! And besides, why would it matter? I was so glad he didn’t believe in a double standard.

We had the occasional argument over housework. He was a student who spent less time at school than I did at work, so I didn’t see why I should do most of the cooking and cleaning in our tiny sub-let apartment. He usually tried to resolve our “quarrels” (his word) by giving me extra compliments and affection, and by taking me out to visit his friends. Besides, as he pointed out, he sometimes “helped” me with the housework, and what more could I expect?

His self-pity kicked in almost as soon as he arrived in Canada. He expected a lavish wedding, to be paid for by my parents, and that didn’t happen. He was alarmed to find that I was already taking the birth-control pill because I didn’t think we could afford to start a baby right away. I had told him this in a letter, to which he hadn’t responded.

Since then, I’ve wondered whether any men who aren’t medical doctors understand how the pill works, even after many explanations, and/or having a printed explanation (with diagrams) waved in their faces. At the time, I explained over and over again to Pepple that I had to start taking the pill two weeks (or half a menstrual cycle) before he arrived in order to make sure I was protected from an unplanned pregnancy. He claimed to understand the science behind the pill, then told me I had no good reason to start taking it before he was with me. Whom else was I fooling around with?

After that, he saw a string of clues that I was a nympho slut from hell who was entertaining hordes of men whenever he wasn’t in the same room with me. We had both promised to be faithful to each other, so he felt completely betrayed.

Soon after our wedding, I made a schedule of all the domestic chores, dividing them equally between us. I asked if my schedule looked fair to him. He said it did, and he seemed amused.

I started expecting him to cook supper on his appointed day, and he complied a few times. At other times, he absolutely refused on grounds that he wasn’t prepared, and he didn’t see why I couldn’t just do it myself. I got the impression that he was waiting for me to “settle down” and accept my responsibilities as a wife.

I reminded him that he had promised to treat me like an equal. He always responded that he was actually the doormat in the marriage.

If Pepple could materialize out of thin air in London, would I want to speak to him again? Sure. I would probably introduce him to my current spouse and invite him somewhere for tea. What would we discuss? OMG.

I can easily imagine a barrage of complaints. He would remind me that in my twenties, I was a hysterical girl because I had been brainwashed by “women’s lib.” He had been my victim. He had trusted me! But I broke all my promises! After all these years, he would tell me, he just wanted some acknowledgment, and an apology from me for breaking his heart and then running off with our baby daughter. He would warn me that my current marriage is a huge mistake because Mirtha is not a man and therefore not a suitable husband.

I can still hear him in my head, and I know that nothing would be resolved if we were to meet again. All I can do is to remind myself that the past is past. No relationship is permanent because they all end one way or another, and this means that all promises end too.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Please Stop

by Giselle Renarde

I hope this will be my last post about my ex, but I suspect it won't be. I ended that shitshow a decade ago, but he won't let it die.

Why won't he let it die?

For those who need a recap, I met this man in high school. He was my teacher: a very depressed, very married man. I thought I could cure him with my newfound sexual prowess. Cure him of the sadness that shrouded him. Cure him of his marriage, too.

None of that happened, of course. Fucking your students doesn't cure depression.

This guy was raised in a very religious family, and that's the sort of thing you never shake. He felt super-guilty about surrendering to the temptation that was young Giselle. Now I realize he was using the guilt around having sex with me as a form of self-flagellation.  I think he got more fulfillment from the guilt than he got from the sex.

And that's saying something, because I was awesome in bed.

After a decade or two of reflection on what I once considered a relationship, my opinion on that whole situation is a lot less rosy than it once was. My opinion has changed even since I wrote Audrey and Lawrence, a short story collection based loosely on us.

He was my teacher. I was not an adult when we met.

I was looking for a father figure. I told him that in words.

My parents were divorced and my own father had fallen off the map by that point. Turns out he was incarcerated. For the "criminal harassment" of an 18-year-old girl. My sister spirit, somewhere out there. I don't know who she is, but I hope that in her lonely hours she feels my kindred heart in hers.

My ex didn't want to be a father figure to me. He told me that in words.

I don't want to make any outright accusations, but I was young. If it wasn't abuse, it bordered on abuse. That's hard for me to say, having participated in the proceedings as ravenously as I did. For many years, I felt like I caused it. I certainly asked for it. But a mature adult in a position of power knows where to draw the line, and a big part of me wishes he'd done that. It's not impossible to fend off a teenager, even a starving one.

It boils down to the fact that I was young. I need to be able to forgive myself for stuff I did when I was practically a child. Adults always called me an old soul when I as a kid, but that didn't make me old. Didn't even make me mature. I had a lot of responsibilities heaped on my head. That's different.

I was inexperienced. I thought I knew everything, but that just shows how very susceptible I was.

A couple years ago, some stuff came through my letterbox. My ex had entered my building. He'd come right up to my door to hand-deliver this weird work of "fiction" about us.

I ran it through the paper shredder.

Part of me wishes I hadn't just because I would love to be able to quote it right now. I read very little of it, but it seemed to be about how he was totally going to leave his wife for me right before I ended things, but, you know, stuff kept happening or whatever. It was never a good time.

But, like, when is the right time to leave your wife for your mistress?

Probably never, just an educated guess.

He wasn't shy about showcasing his ongoing feelings for me. Keep in mind I hadn't spoken to the man in YEARS. After I ended it, he kept sending me shit, like Christmas cards and birthday cards and emails on the anniversary of the final time we had sex (gawd, don't remind me!). It was not comfortable.

But coming into my building? No. Just no. Enough. Move on. Find another student to fuck or get some therapy or something. I don't care. Just don't involve me in your life please and thank you.

My girlfriend is good with diplomatic stuff. You can probably tell my reaction would be something along the lines of "Fuck the fuck off, you fucking fuck." But I wanted to be a grown-up after all these years, so Sweet wrote this email for me to send:
After all this time the gifts, the cards and your presence make me uncomfortable. Please stop sending things, stay away and please do not come to my building again.

His response was as follows:

It saddens me greatly to acquiesce.

He later sent this:

I know I pledged no cards, no books, no visits. Unanswered, this will also be the last e-mail.

I'm sure you'll be shocked when I tell you that was bullshit, because on my birthday this turd hit my inbox:

I know I promised no cards, but e-mails you can ignore. I truly do hope you have a very happy birthday. I have spent years regretting 2008 (and indecisions of much of 2007, 06, 05, 04...) and cannot believe I may never see you again.

Oh my fucking lord. Dude. Dude! Where do I even begin with this?

First and most obvious: you MAY never see me again? No, darling. No. You are guaranteed to never see me again. A person who respects my wishes would keep their promise to leave me the fuck alone. Let me get on with my life. You are not part of it. You never should have been, but I can't change the past. I can, however, change the future, and that means no contact with your sorry ass.

I always got off on this self-pity stuff when I was young. Probably because there was a bit of my father in it. My father was a hard-core alcoholic to his dying day, and when you're a kid you want more than anything to cure that affliction in your parent. My ex pretty much drank himself into a stupor every night too. I wasn't around to see it, so I thought it didn't affect me.

Silly silly young Giselle. The impact was great.

I really thought I could cure this man by listening to his troubles and being a saucy little minx and feeling so superior to his cold cold wife who didn't understand him. I couldn't let myself see that I was really trying to heal my father, heal my family, heal myself.

That's messed up, even for an adult to reflect upon. Way too much for my teen and young twenty-something brain.

I sound really worked up about all this, which might lead you to think it's been weighing heavily on my mind. It hasn't, to be honest. When that email came in, I showed it to my girlfriend, we discussed, and then it kind of fell out of my brain until I noticed that this week's topic involved broken promises.

He said he would stop and he didn't.

That's a broken promise you don't recover from.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"Look Into My Soul" A short-short broken promise story

Her pursed lips, frozen in the monkey grin of her orgasm, let forth a deep, almost menacing growl of bliss.  He felt her pudendum shiver against his lips as the waves passed through her and to him like intimate radio waves.  He withdrew his tongue from her and waited a moment to be sure.  Yes.
There was no question of what she wanted now.  Not his tongue down there, but she was ready now for the root of him.  She needed him inside. If he made her wait she would demand it, which he loved to hear. 
He lifted up and gently slid up the length of her body, his face gleaming with vaginal juices, and settled over her.  He felt her shift her belly, adjust her position and open to him.  Her face was level with his.
 She raised her feet, lifting them into the air.  He sat up, place her feet across his shoulders and felt the wave of aggressive male desire sweep over him.  He reached for a pillow and slipped it under her ass.  But he would not look at her face.
"Look at me," she whispered.
He closed his eyes and kissed her face.
"No, look at me," she whispered.  "I want you to look into my eyes when you come into me."
He looked at her forehead.
"My eyes," she said, the faintest irritation.  "I want all of you."
He had been avoiding that up until now, because the sight of her face, especially when she relaxed was disturbing.  It was after all, his own face.
The tip of his cock tapped accidentally at her wetness and slipped straight in without guidance from his hand or hers. 
"You're shy," she said.  "I want you to look into my eyes when you come. That's when you're truly naked, when you lose control.  I want to look into your eyes and you lose control.  Come on."
She was not his sister, but in a way she might as well have been.  Everything from the chin down was not his, but from the chin up, she could have been his clone.  Was that the reason they were always doing this? As often as they met, she was the one who would bring him to the bed, he had to do so little to have her and feast on her.  Maybe it was like that for her too.
"Promise me, you'll look into my eyes when you come.  From now on."
"Oh baby," he sighed as he began to move.
"Oh fuck, you're good to me."
"Say it."
"Oh Jesus, let me do this.  I gotta fuck so bad. I need you right now.  It's just good."
"Yeah!  I do!"
He looked into her eyes as his hips pressed into her and out and then in, then out, harder each time until the bed squealed with his thrusts.  She raised her arms above her head like a bird taking to the air, lifting her breasts, making the nipples pop out.  He looked at her nipples, kept looking at them as the minutes passed and the bed squealed louder in a steady bolero.  Her eyes, they were half open.  Enjoying him.  Feeling the moment.  Having captured him inside her.  He was suddenly fascinated by the sway of her breasts as though they were not a part of her as he rocked urgently against her.  He felt his eyes close as the wave in his loins began to rise, felt it began to spill forward.
He tried to keep his eyes open, to look in her face.  It spooked him.  It was his face.  Her face, if he looked into her eyes he was sure he would go soft. 
He felt the huge thrill breaking the surface and the pumping in his loins as he closed his eyes, puffing like a runner.  There!
"Lacuna!" he shouted and felt himself pop and foam and fill her, deep and deep.
He lay above her, letting it pour into her like a drum beat as he struggled to keep from crying.  He tried to lower himself down and then suddenly felt her hands on him, her fingers digging into his biceps, rolling him off her belly and over onto his side.
"You didn't do it!"
"Yeah," he said, feeling the room spin.  He looked up at the white ceiling fan slowly turning.  "I did. You made me come good.  Really good."
"No!" she snapped.  "You promised to look into my eyes when you came, to let me see into your soul, and you didn't, you closed your eyes."
"Next time," he said.
"I don't know if there'll be a next time.  And who the hell is Lacuna?"
"You said Lacuna.  Who's she?  Who were you thinking about?"
"Oh, don't spoil it, honey.  We both feel so good right now.  Just let it alone."
"Who's Lacuna?"
"I don't know."
"You can't fuck me anymore.  Not if you're not here, not if your mind is somewhere else thinking about Lacuna.  You need to learn to meditate or something."
"I don;t know any Lacuna."
"That's why you don't look in my eyes.  You're guilty.  You're fucking somebody named Lacuna."
"I swear to baby Jesus I'm not."
"Then who's Lacuna?"
"I don't know.  Maybe it's like Citizen Kane.  Maybe it's a sled I used to have when I was a little kid, how should I know?  Please, please don't mess this thing up for me.  You made me happy, okay?  You made big old Mr Happy down there happy, okay?  Don't mess this up.  We're doing so good."
"I want to look into your soul.  You're like a locked closet.  I want in.  I want all of it."
"I know," he said.  "But you're never going to."
"Never what?"
"You're never going to have all of it.  That I can promise."

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Broken Promise

A promise is a serious thing. Our attitude to what we mean, what we intend when we give our word defines the quality of our relationships. It’s a marker for our integrity, the bedfellow to other important concepts such as trust, confidence, commitment. Relationships founder on broken promises, dashed expectations, the bitterness of disappointment.

As an author, of course, I’m minded to think that’s a good thing. Countless story arcs revolve around broken trust and the lengths characters will go to, either to redeem themselves or to get revenge.
Of all the stories I’ve written, The Dark Side remains one of my favourites. The heroine, Eva Byrne, is off the scale clever, but she has almost nil self-esteem and is engaged in a constant struggle with her mental health. She is drawn to the enigmatic Nathan Darke like a moth to a flame and falls for him utterly.

For the first time she has placed her faith in another person. He is everything to her and the image of what they have together permeates everything she does, every decision she makes. It creates a new self-image for her, and for the first time she actually likes the person she sees when she looks in the mirror.

She owes all of this to Nathan. She trusts him completely, only to have that trust shattered. A more confident, self-assured and balanced personality would confront him, but not Eva. Her social skills are in the basement, she crumbles in the face of a broken promise, can’t handle it, can’t see past this betrayal. Crushed, convinced everything she believed in was no more than an illusion, a sick joke, she rushes off to lick her wounds.

For a few moments I stand, transfixed in stupefied silence, looking into the space where the undeniably lovely Susanna had been as though there was a real danger that the hateful apparition might somehow reappear. Her careless words rattle around my head like ricocheting bullets, shattering my world. Ruthlessly. Totally.
‘I’ve got my own key.’ ‘When I was last here.’ ‘When he blindfolds me.’ ‘A couple of weeks.’ As the awful implications sink in I feel sick, and dive for the bathroom. I manage to reach the loo before I throw up and proceed to heave my croissants and three cups of coffee down the pan.
At last my stomach stops heaving and churning, and I feel it may be safe to pull my head out of the toilet. I sit on the floor of the bathroom, tears streaming down my cheeks. I didn’t even know I was crying, but suddenly I’m sobbing uncontrollably. I don’t bother to hide my face in my hands. I don’t reach for a tissue, or even a chunk of toilet paper. I just let the grief flow.
The bastard. The absolute lying, cheating, utter bastard. The one thing, the only thing I bloody asked of him. He promised me. I asked him if there were any others, any other subs, and he promised me I was the only one. And I believed him. Like the naïve little fool I am, I actually believed him.
But he lied. He didn’t mention Susanna. And how many other ‘Susannas’ are there? How many other luscious, sexy subs popping in with their own keys, leaving their earrings in his drawers and borrowing ties? How many others who know their way around this apartment as well as I do, better probably? How many others who know exactly what the brown leather bedroom sofa is for?
I feel sick again, but there’s nothing left to throw up so I stay where I am, rocking myself in my misery, drowning in my pain and humiliation and cursing my own gullibility. He wanted to fuck me. He said so enough times. He’d have said anything, told me anything, to get me to open my legs for him. And I totally fell for it. If he’d been honest about his other women, his need for variety, I’d have accepted that. Possibly. Or at least I’d have had a choice. I gave him my virginity never expecting a long-term commitment from him. But he told me I was special. He told me he loved me. And all the time he was fucking Susanna as well.
Never one to be sparing in my misery I turn over the events of the last few weeks in my mind. When did he…? When could he have…? I remember that night he phoned me to say he was on his way to the airport to catch his flight to Ankara. It was a Friday evening and I did think at the time that it was odd to go then. Why not Sunday, or Monday morning when the construction site would be open and he could meet with his associates in Turkey? But no, he said he needed to go on Friday evening. Much more likely he was spending the weekend here in Leeds, with Susanna or someone else. Even over the last three weeks he’s been over here frequently, admittedly coming home to Black Combe most nights. But not all. He’s had plenty of opportunity, and it’s obvious that he’s been taking those chances when he could.
The shit. The cheating, lying piece of pond scum.
Leaning my head back against the wall I draw in deep, wrenching breaths, struggling to recapture my shattered soul, regain some sense of self and self-worth. Through the red and black mist of pain and jealousy I try to think, work out my options. What to do? What the hell to do now?
He’s only six floors below me. I could march into Darke Associates and demand an explanation. Yeah, like that’d work. Or I could humiliate him, like he’s humiliated me. I toy with the tempting notion of bundling all his naughty, kinky little gadgets in a bag and taking them down to his office. I could dump them on his conference room table, hopefully in front of all his business associates. With a card saying ‘Love from Susanna’. Or I could shred his clothes, cut them up with scissors and leave them in a pile on his bed. A lesser mortal than me might even piss on them. Or, most satisfying of all, I could pretend nothing’s wrong, persuade him to stay here another night, and cut his dick off while he’s asleep. With scissors.
But I’m not doing any of that stuff. All I’ve got left is my pride, my dignity. And that’s pretty thin on the ground at this moment. So I’m cutting my losses and I’m getting out of here. If my sanity’s still intact, and I’m not at all convinced at this precise moment that it is, that’ll just have to do.
I manage to haul myself to my feet. Catching sight of my ravaged face in the mirror over the sink I lean on the basin and contemplate what to do to set myself to rights. The image of dumping that bag of sex toys on Nathan’s conference room table comes to mind again, but I shove that tempting notion aside and turn on the cold tap. I splash water on my face and clean my teeth. The improvement is marginal, but I call it a draw and stagger out of the bathroom.
I take a few minutes to empty the few things that belong to me from the drawers in the bedroom and stuff them in my bag. It’s not much—a change of underwear, a hairbrush and a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. On second thoughts, I toss the book back on the bed. I dump Nathan’s iPad next to it along with my key card—I want nothing of his. I fold Susanna’s tie neatly and place that alongside the rest of the stuff on the bed, and I head out of the door once more.
It’s only been an hour since I last stood in this foyer, and in that time my world has shifted on its axis. If I hadn’t forgotten my phone, if I hadn’t decided on impulse that I wanted to text Nathan and gone back to get it, I might have missed Susanna, might never have known what a shit he was. And how gloriously happy I would have remained in my ignorance.
Stiffening my shoulders I hit the lift call button.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Promises, Promises -- #bdsm #promises #soulmate

Red Ribbon

By Lisabet Sarai
I was sure he was the One. But then I’ve felt the same about so many others—my serial soul mates.

Let me back up. I’ve written many times here about my initiation into BDSM, about how profoundly it changed my view of myself and the world. I may have given you the impression that my relationship with my Master was all about sex. That’s not at all true. What made the experience so thrilling was not the physical pleasure (or the pain), but rather the sense of connection and utter trust. G taught me the exquisite joy of total surrender. He coaxed me to open myself to him, mind and body. When I did, I reaped exquisite rewards.

My love for him was profound, though at the time I believed he saw me only as his plaything. I didn’t know him nearly as well as he seemed to know me. I see now that he loved me, too, in his own way, though he never told explicitly used the words. Now I understand him much better, almost forty years after that first incandescent fuck that demonstrated his power. He’s sentimental, vulnerable, an incurable romantic, despite his sometimes rude or mocking ways. I was just blind.

So I thought it was arrogant possessiveness, not love, when he asked for my promise. He wanted me to guarantee that if I thought I’d found someone else, I’d come to see him first so he could win me back. I willingly gave my word. I didn’t want anyone else anyway. Though he and I lived four hundred miles apart, me in southern California, he in the north, we visited as often as we could. He was my Master. The relationship wasn’t easy, but I couldn’t imagine wanting to sever our ties.

Then I met M. I was susceptible, alone in the city, working at my challenging first job as a professional, trying to adjust to living in a culture radically different from my New England upbringing. M was sitting on the steps of his building a few blocks from my apartment. He gave me a crooked grin, invited me out to dinner, gave me a ride in his sports car, got me high, fucked me with a single-minded intensity in which I should have recognized echoes of my Master, but didn’t. I was dazzled, suddenly in love. M took me over, both physically and emotionally. We fit, physically, and we seemed to share a kind of telepathic communication, especially when we were in bed together.

For more than a month we spent every night and every weekend together. He told me he loved me. I was head over heels, sure he was the One, thinking (bizarre as it sounds now) about marriage.

Still, there was that promise I’d made to G. If I was about to become monogamous with M, I owed it to my Master to tell him personally. I flew up to San Francisco, as I had so many times before, though instead of the usual excitement I felt dread. What would G say? What would he do?

I imagined him grabbing me, throwing me on the bed, screwing me as hard as he could—reminding me that he owned me. Those images reawakened my excitement. He was my Master. He would reclaim me. I was his. Away from M, the influence of my new lover faded. Nervous, conflicted, I hoped that G would help me make up my mind.

Instead, he cried.

Have I told this story before? How helpless I felt in the face of his abdicating his authority over me? How silly I felt for keeping that promise? Not to mention disappointed, even betrayed? He was my Master. He was supposed to be strong.

That was one of the worst weekends in my life. G was sullen, nasty, self-pitying. I can’t remember if we had sex, but if we did, it didn’t fix things.

I returned to my new home, my job, my new lover.

Three weeks later M disappeared for the weekend. Unable to contact him, I was frantic. Remember, we’d been spending almost all our free time together. I worried that he’d been in an accident, that he was ill somewhere, even that he’d been kidnapped. I didn’t know what to do.

Monday morning I found out he’d been in Las Vegas, marrying his former girlfriend. I grieved. At the same time, I cursed myself for being such a fool.

That wasn’t the end of my relationship with my Master, of course. Even now, we still call one another “lover”. We communicate by email, talk by phone occasionally, meet every half decade or so if we can. Still, I think my reckless decision to tell him I’d found someone else damaged us in some fundamental way. Or perhaps the sight of him in tears at the thought of losing me undermined his authority as my Master.

I sometimes wonder—fantasize, actually—what would have happened if he’d been more forceful. If he’d claimed me as he’d hinted he would, when I showed up at his door. Would we still be together? Would I have been able to give him the devotion he needed, over the long term? Would we still be playing kinky games, even though we’re both senior citizens?

I’ll never know. I kept my promise. What would have happened if he’d kept his?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Finding Yourself at the Movies: The Power of Story

I don’t watch a lot of movies. I find them boring.

It’s basically Heterosexual White Guy confronts an enemy that wants to destroy the world (or the world as Heterosexual White Guy knows it, which can mean his career, his marriage, his city, etc.) and only Heterosexual White Guy can save the day. It’s gotten real boring, cliche, and repetitive.

Other than Guardians of the Galaxy, I don’t watch superhero movies. They’re all the same. Good Heterosexual White Guy must save the world from Evil Heterosexual White Guy. They have a big battle. Buildings are destroyed. But just when it seems Good Heterosexual White Guy is about to lose and all hope is lost, he finds the strength within him to overcome. Yawn.

The trailer for Infinity War, the culmination of the last several years of Marvel movies, is a snooze fest. I struggle to pay attention to the whole thing.

Then there’s Black Panther. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s one Marvel movie that I will make a point of seeing. Everything I’ve seen and heard about the movie tells me that it’s one I have to see — I dare not miss it.

What’s drawing me to the movie? It’s not about Heterosexual White Guy. Even more, it’s not even set in Heterosexual White Guy’s world. It features a nearly all black cast in the fictional African country of Wakanda and it thrives on the energy and vitality of the Afrofuturistic world it portrays.

Black Panther has so captivated audiences worldwide that it’s smashing box office records. There are news stories of inner city kids of colour in Canada and USA filling theatres, seeing themselves in the heroes on the screen (for the very first time), and being filled with inspiration and hope.

Last year, Wonder Woman did the same thing for young women that Black Panther did for kids of colour. Theatres were packed for Wonder Woman, smashing all expectations, because audiences were craving a strong female superhero.

Last night, I saw the movie Love, Simon. This movie is about a closeted high school boy who finds the strength to come out and find love. Love, Simon is so powerful, so heartwarming, so honest, and so true that it’s inspiring young people around the world to scrounge up the courage to come out. Social media is filled with stories of people who came out after watching the movie, then feeling so free and loved after doing so. (Honestly, I cried through two-thirds of the movie and I’m really not a crier. My sister calls me an emotionless robot — so this is a testament to how powerful this movie is.)

And it certainly didn’t escape my attention that **spoiler** Simon’s love interest is a black Jewish boy.

A while back, I watched Call Me By Your Name — a story of gay love in the 80s. It’s one of my favourite movies of all time. It is so beautifully done.

Diversity is on the rise in Hollywood. It’s good for business — all of the movies above have been critical or box office successes, or in most cases, both. All of them have drawn in audiences who may not share identities with the main characters, but they still find points of connection. When I saw Love, Simon yesterday, I highly doubt that the room was filled with LGBT audiences. My mom (who is straight) saw Call Me By Your Name and raves about it, and she’s going to see Love, Simon very soon.

During the Oscars, they televised a pre-recorded segment about diversity in movies. Oscar nominee Kumail Nanjiani had this to say:

"Some of my favorite movies are by straight white dudes about straight white dudes," he said. "Now, straight white dudes can watch movies starring me and you relate to that. It's not that hard. I've done it my whole life." (source)

Audiences are finding themselves in these movies. And these movies are far stronger for it.

I hope this trend continues. I’ve mentioned many times before that I’m a die-hard Star Trek fan. I love how diverse the cast of the new Star Trek: Discovery is. In the past, Star Trek has been celebrated for it’s diversity, but it seemed diversity meant heterosexual white people and heterosexual black people. Until Discovery, I could probably name and count non-white and non-black characters on one hand.

With Discovery, among the main cast and secondary cast (which includes regularly-seen-though-not-always-named bridge characters), we have white, black, Latino, Malaysian, and Pakistani actors. (Shazad Latif is actually British, but his Pakistani heritage is a refreshing splash of diversity.) We also had Star Trek’s first official gay couple.

There is strength in storytelling reflecting real life. It makes it more honest, more true, more relatable.

A while back, there was outrage on Twitter (haha, when is there not outrage on Twitter?) over a writer who said that she is writing an all-white all-heterosexual cast of characters because that’s life as she knows it. The response from the internet at large was that if that’s life as she knows it, she’s likely ignoring the world around her. Almost no one lives in an all-white all-heterosexual community.

But reflecting diversity of characters is only half of it. The other half is diversity is emotional honesty.

In Love, Simon, Nick Robinson (who plays Simon) does a phenomenal job of exhibiting the awkwardness, discomfort, and ongoing nervousness of coming out. I saw a lot of myself in him and his portrayal of Simon. I'm sure many people did.

In Call Me By Your Name, Elio (brilliantly portrayed by Timothée Chalamet) has a very different journey than Simon — he struggles with the same issues, but doesn’t really have a coming out aspect to his journey. It’s reflective of the journey that many people have with their sexuality. No two people have the same journey.

Watching these very diverse movies and these movies that pack an emotional gut punch has me thinking about my own writing and what’s lacking — and what I want to achieve. I’m working on a very long novel right now, New York Heat, which is a sequel to two series I’ve already published. Since it’s a sequel, I’m mostly working with pre-existing characters … who are all white. Thus, with the two new characters I added to this book, I made one of them an immigrant from Ghana. It’s a small piece of diversity, but just the start of what I plan to do with my writing. I also made two men bi rather than gay, because I'm increasingly recognizing the threat of bi-erasure in erotic literature (and society in general, for that matter).

The sequel to New York Heat will be a book called New York Ice. Presently, I know of two new characters I’ll be introducing — one will be a trans man and the other will be a Thai gay man. The books are set in New York City, after all. I remember back when Friends was on TV, there were occasional articles in the media about how white the show is given where it’s located. I don’t want my books to suffer the same criticism. Really, though, it goes much further than wanting to avoid criticism. They say “write what you know” — so, what do I know? My close friends and family are white, Filipino, Malaysian, Pakistani, gay, straight, lesbian, trans, and more.

By writing diversity, I’m writing what I know. I’m writing a reflection of the world I live in, the world as it is.

Then there’s the emotional gut punch. One could very easily argue that erotica and erotic romance is no place for emotions other than lust and love.

I disagree.

Emotions and emotional storylines of all types add diversity to story.

The ending of Orphan’s Triumph by Robert Buettner (book five of the five-book sci-fi Jason Wander series) turned my world upside down for weeks. I still get chills thinking about how Buettner created such an emotional gut punch that was so unexpected — especially for the genre of military sci-fi — but was so perfect. After spending five books fighting an implacable enemy, one who has utterly destroyed everything and everyone Jason Wander cares about, **spoiler** the book ends with a final confrontation between Jason and the enemy (a planet-sized hive-mind being). I saw this coming half-way through the series. Then Buettner turned it all upside down by having Jason talk to the enemy, understand the enemy, have the enemy understand him, and then forgive the enemy and letting it go. Regularly in life, we are challenged to forgive our enemies and to show compassion to those who have harmed us. This book shows us how powerful that moment can be.

This four-panel comic strip from the often-hilarious and often-sombre Pearls Before Swine packs an incredible emotional gut punch in only a few words. This is a pain that almost anyone can relate to, whether or not they've experienced a school shooting.

Seasons three and four of Futurama, an often-goofy animated sci-fi show by the the guy that made The Simpsons, often has me in tears because of the unexpected but oh-so-perfect emotional gut punches. Peppered among the goofy episodes are emotional stories about love, family, loss, and more. The Jurassic Bark episode often has me tearing up just by thinking about it -- a thousand years in the future, Fry discovers the petrified remains of his dog, Seymour, from before he travelled to the future. **Spoiler** As he's about to clone his dog from the DNA they've found in the petrified remains, he discovers that Seymour lived a long life after Fry left and travelled to the future. In the closing scene, we discover that Seymour spent the rest of his life waiting at the spot where he met Fry, hoping that his master would return to him. The very closing second is Seymour passing away.

So is there room for this kind of emotional gut punch in erotica and romance?

Fuck yes.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a few pen names — under my other pen names, I basically write wank stories. They’re short and they’re meant to get the reader off. There is a place for those in the market and I’ll continue to write them.

But for this name, for Cameron D. James, I’m seeing a shift in where my writing is going. I will still market my stuff as MM erotic romance and/or gay erotica — but it will be so much more than that. New York Heat and New York Ice are both going to pack an emotional gut punch that is extremely atypical for the genres. But it’s the story I want to tell.

The best stories are often the ones that the writer is most invested in. Under this pen name, I write the stories I’m most invested in. I throw my whole heart, mind, and soul into these books. I try to reflect diversity (and I’m striving to do better at it) and I try to reflect emotional honesty — and to do that, I have to create stories that are deep and rich, which means I can no longer just do surface-level love stories. I can't be afraid of taking a risk and going for something sad or painful.

Will I lose some readers? Undoubtedly.

Will I gain some readers? Undoubtedly.

But who am I writing for? The reader or myself? I’m writing for myself. But that doesn’t mean the reader won’t get something out of it. With novels of emotional depth and honesty, featuring characters that are diverse and true to life, who face the same struggles and trauma that real people face … there will be people who read my books and say, “Finally, a book that I identify with.”

I’ve always struggled with the vociferous argument that condoms must be used in MM erotic romance. The key argument is typically that featuring condom use or over-long explanations on how getting tested is a normal thing that loving couples do is written into the book for the young gay man who might be reading the story — maybe he’ll internalize that message and have a healthy approach to his sex life. The problem with that, though, is the key readership of MM erotic romance is women, not gay men. The message is nice, yeah, but it’s directed at the wrong people. (And, honestly, I think it reinforces the idea in non-gay-men’s-minds that gay men are diseased and must use condoms to stay alive — but that’s an argument for another day.) By including this in the books, these writers are trying to reflect a rather narrow experience that is not shared by their largest readership.

But by writing a diverse cast and plots that feature that emotional gut punch -- and stories that reflect life itself -- I can write something that almost anyone can identify with. That Pearls Before Swine comic I linked to above has a message that anyone can identify with, whether or not they’ve been personally affected by a school shooting. The ending of that book, Orphan’s Triumph, is about forgiveness in the most extreme of situations. Jurassic Bark, that episode of Futurama, is about loving your dog. These are relatable to anyone who consumes these media. And all of these media are richer and stronger for it.

I’m finding my way in my writing.

I was lost for quite a bit. I wrote some wank stories and thought that was the extent of it. I was going to write some stuff in other genres (in fact I have a sci-fi novel on my hard drive and plans for a trilogy, as well as plans for a line of thrillers that my writing group says is strong enough to land a traditional deal) — but I’ve put all of those projects aside and have no plans to pick them up again.

Why? Because they’re just plot. The don’t have the diverse characters (though I could certainly put that in) or the emotional gut punch that I now realize is what I love most about books and movies. To rewrite those books to include those things would make them very different beasts. I may return to them at some point, but I’m not ready for it yet.

I write stories of transformation, growth, pain, trauma, healing, hope, love, loss, and family. I write stories about life. Yeah, there’s a lot of sex along the way. Sex is part of life. There are probably people who read my books for just the sex. But there are also probably people who would read my books even if there wasn’t sex in it. I’ll write what I want to write and my audience will find me.

Just like audiences are now finding themselves in the movies, I’m hoping readers find themselves in my books.

Apologies to my fellow Grippers for being late yet again.

Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Autumn Fire. He is publisher at and co-founder of Deep Desires Press, member of the Indie Erotica Collective, and hosts two podcasts, Deep Desires Podcast and Sex For Money. He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit

Friday, March 23, 2018

My Ranking! My Precious Ranking!

Lost: sales rank listing for all erotica books on Amazon US. If found, please return to their rightful place.

Yep, as of yesterday (Aussie time), any books categorized as "erotica" have lost their overall sales rank position on Amazon US. Apparently this happened on Amazon India a while back, too. The books still retain their category ranking, but not an overall one.

Plenty of theories have already abounded as to why this is. Having been through the Pornocalypse in 2012, and all the ongoing adjustments that have been slapped upon us since then, I'm treating this as a big red flag.

Maybe nothing much will change. Maybe everything will. I don't wanna go all Chicken Little here, but it worries me that perhaps this loss of one particular status point will be only the first step toward a total relegation of all erotica titles. Either to the seedy backstreets of Amazon, or off the distributor's site completely.

It's fair to say that erotica must still constitute an enormous part of Amazon's revenue, so logic would dictate they're gonna stick with selling it. As long as they're able to without risk.

The passing of the SESTA/FOSTA bill is being pointed to as a credible cause for this change. I'm as apolitical as my own chest hair is, so I can't really say much. Also, I'm in Australia where the bill will only have a flow-on effect (though it could be huge).

I mentioned the Pornocalypse earlier. At that time, when Amazon and others made an overnight (apparently) and unannounced decision to place far greater limits on what could be published, it felt as though the world of erotica had ended. We all got through that, and through every minor Pornocalypse since then.

But each time these changes happen, it saps a little more of our strength, and our power. If we want to keep playing in the biggest sand pit in town, we have to keep handing over a little more of our soul. Okay, that's probably too dramatic, but it does feel that way. Even in the cases where we're churning out a 3,000 word story which is nothing but genitalia being diddled, it's still something that came from us. It might be a red-headed step child, but it's still our baby.

For me, this hits just as I was getting moving on churning out short smutty tales under a new pen name. None of those five books have overall ranking, and none of them have done all that much yet. That's pretty normal, since you really do need to have a bunch of books out before you could expect much action. But now I need to sit back and wait, to see if there's any point in continuing that project.

I'd like to think nothing much will change. I more strongly believe much will change but most of it will be well below the surface. The distributors rely far too heavily on their precious smutbux to simply send it all packing.

In the end, though, this simply strengthens my resolve to get my non-erotic/non-romance stories cranking again. Ribald poetry, children's books...even zombies and post-apocalypse. Because it seems, now as much as ever, there are far fewer strictures on KILLING people in books than there are on loving them.