Saturday, November 22

Tentacles and Chain (ch. 20)

If you're here for my official Sex Positive Blog Hop post, you can find that post here: ( -- if you're here for Chapter 20 of Tentacles and Chain, read on  :)   We're headed towards the final few chapters (only six more after today). 

Don't forget, you can catch up on anything you've missed at

Chapter Twenty

The sand was cool under his skin, and as the water lapped up against it, hitting the empty shore with a sure and steady rhythm like a heartbeat, it glowed bright blue. It was almost bright enough to make out Master’s features.
Trellen wished… but…. He bit his lip. His only fear was never seeing the Blue again, never swimming in the open sea. Hadn’t his Master just brought him to the open sea and let him swim unfettered? Hadn’t Master shown him something more beautiful than Trellen had ever imagined? How could I ask for more, especially tonight? He dipped his hand in the water and scooped up a handful of bright stars—they were really plankton, but that didn’t make them any less incredible.
Master hauled himself out of the water to sit next to Trellen, his tentacles creating pools and eddies of swirling blue stars. “It pleases me very much to see you so happy.”
Trellen smiled. It would be so easy…. I fear never seeing the Blue, never feeling the sunlight on my skin again. But the words wouldn’t come. Instead, he asked, “Would…would you fuck me? Here, on the sand?”
He sensed another smile—and maybe, just maybe, he saw it, as his eyes were long accustomed to darkness. Master brushed a strand of damp hair away from Trellen’s face and Trellen melted into his touch. “If that is what you wish, my sweet.”
Trellen nodded. There was nothing he wanted more than to feel his Master’s weight on top of him in a way that wasn’t possible under the waves. He wanted to be smothered, to kiss and be kissed, to taste and be tasted, to touch and be touched. He craved everything his Master gave him and so much more. Trellen leaned in and Master met his kiss halfway; he responded. It was sweet and soft and Trellen drank in his scent as it mingled with the salt-spray. He nipped at Master’s lips and Master opened to him, allowing Trellen to deepen the kiss. Allowing Trellen to control it.
Then Master wrapped one arm around Trellen’s waist and leaned in. With Master holding him tight, Trellen lowered himself to the sand, so he was lying beneath his Master. Master kissed his lips, his jaw, his neck. He kissed his way along Trellen’s collar bone and down the center of his chest. Trellen smiled and let out a soft, happy sigh. He was unrestrained and able to run his hands through his Master’s long hair, able to lift his head and kiss Master’s shoulder. Everything felt so different above the waves.
Around him millions of bright stars pooled in the soft sand while overhead millions more glittered in the dark, moonless sky. Never had a moment been so perfect.
Trellen closed his eyes and listened to the waves, to the sound of his own breath, as his Master took one hard nipple into his mouth. He nipped and sucked, and Trellen arched into the pain—the pleasure—even as his cock swelled to its full length. Master reached down and took hold if it, stroking the sensitive flesh while he transferred his attention to Trellen’s other nipple.
When Trellen felt his Master’s fingers press against his entrance, his breath caught. Master pushed in, gently, and began stretching him very, very slowly.
“Please,” Trellen breathed. “Please fuck me.”
With a soft chuckle, Master shifted, positioning himself on top of Trellen. He rested the tip of his cock against Trellen’s entrance while Trellen wriggled under him.
“Please?” Trellen repeated.
Master eased into him slowly; it was maddening. But Master seemed to take great delight in the frustration he was causing. He eased himself all the way in, then pulled out again, and waited until Trellen was whimpering, begging again, before sliding his cock back in, even more slowly than before.
Trellen let out a long low groan. “Please. More.”  
Master chuckled. “In time. Right now I want to enjoy how good you feel.”
Trellen smiled and reached up to push the wet hair away from Master’s shadowed face; he could only make out the barest outline of his features, but it was enough. “I’m yours,” he said softly. “Take me however you wish. Just understand that I’ll always want more.”
“I…,” he hesitated. “You were right to accuse me of watching you, stalking you. But the reality of you is far better than anything I had ever imagined. I only hope…I hope I please you as much as you please me.”
Trellen’s heart felt like it was going to explode at the unexpected words, the tenderness in his tone. He cupped the back of his Master’s head and drew him into a long, slow kiss.
 “I’m close, sweet,” Master said, breaking the kiss many long moments later. “Come for me. I want to feel your release.”
The words were all Trellen needed anymore. The orgasm rocked through him and he clung to his Master’s shoulders as a warm jet of cum shot between them. In nearly the same instant, he felt his Master’s release deep inside him.
Master withdrew gently and pressed a soft kiss to Trellen’s lips before scooping seawater onto his stomach, to wash off his mess. Then he gathered Trellen into his arms and they lay on the beach, watching the stars, listening to the waves lap up against the sand.
At length, Master spoke, though there was an uncharacteristic trepidation in his tone. “You asked me once to speak of myself,” he said. “I was wondering if you would return the courtesy.”
“What do you mean?” Hadn’t Master stalked him before snatching him from the Blue? Didn’t Master already know all there was to know?
“I mean only that I wish to know something about you, my sweet.”
Cold fear replaced the warmth he’d felt only a moment ago. “What…what do you want to know?”
“Only as much as you wish to tell me.” He sounded…sad?
Or perhaps simply resigned to not hearing anything.
Trellen pondered it, but he couldn’t think of a reason not to respond to his Master’s question. Master wasn’t pressing him to confide his fears.
“I…you must already know that I was never content to stay within the confines of the reef wall,” Trellen said. “The open sea…it sings to my soul.” But that was getting too close to admitting his greatest fear. Was I not only moments ago considering telling him? Only before he could find the words, Master spoke.
“It sings to my soul as well.”
Trellen blinked up at him. “But you hardly ever leave the cavern.”
 “That is because I have a good reason to remain.” He brushed his knuckles over Trellen’s cheek.
Heat rose in Trellen’s skin. Did Master mean that he was Master’s reason for staying? Or does he believe that I would flee if he left me alone for too long? Yet Master had brought him here, to this beautiful place. I am unchained. I could escape. But where would he go? Besides, Master was faster than him, stronger. If he really thought I could get away, he never would have brought me here.
 “There was a time,” Master said, drawing Trellen out of the quagmire of unhappy thoughts, “when Cetaceans roamed the Blue.”
Trellen frowned. “When?” The Elders had never spoken of such a time. Neither had his teachers or even his parents. But why would Master lie?
“It was long ago,” Master told him. “Before your parents or even your grandparents were born.”
“What happened?”
“Men came on their great leviathans. The sea changed.”
 That might explain why the Elders were so afraid of…well, everything. “Do Cepholopoda fear Men?” he wondered.
“We have a healthy respect for two-leggeds. They are dangerous—but so are we.”
Trellen nodded. Of that he had no doubt. “How do you know so much about Cetaceans?”
“That…that is a long story, my sweet. And it is a story for another time,” he added, before Trellen could ask to hear more.
Without argument, Trellen snuggled into his Master’s chest. He told Master about his mother’s smile and his father’s stern demeanor. He spoke of his four sisters and his little brother, always following him, always getting in his way. He listened when Master spoke of his younger sister, who had caused Master much the same sort of grief that Trellen’s brother caused him.
“I saw you with another male,” Master said then. “One about your own age. You often ventured outside the reef wall together.”
Trellen opened his mouth and then closed it again. How long had Master been stalking him to know about Luce? “Lucien was my best friend. He left last turning.”
“I know.”
Hope lit in his chest. “You don’t…there’s no way you would know…?” Goddess, if he could just hear that Lucien was all right—
But Master shook his head. “I did not follow him any further than the edge of my territory.” He curled a tentacle protectively—possessively—around Trellen’s waist. “He had your heart.” It wasn’t a question.
Trellen nodded anyway. “It doesn’t matter. He didn’t give me his in return.” If he had, he wouldn’t have left.
Master was quiet for so long, Trellen wondered if he’d fallen asleep. Then he spoke, his voice as soft as the breeze coming in from the sea. “I do not expect…. I require only your submission. But it is my hope that you do not hate me too much for taking you from your home.”
Trellen didn’t answer. He didn’t hate him. He wasn’t sure what he felt anymore.

Wednesday, November 19

I'm Guilty...

If you're here for my official Sex Positive Blog Hop pos, you can find that post here (but I hope you'll read this short blog entry, too).

While reading through some of the incredible articles in HuffPo's Teen Sex: It's Complicated series, I came across a phrase that made me cringe. The writer is a teenaged girl who certainly didn't mean any offence to anyone when she used the word "clean" to mean disease free. It's a common term. And the reason I cringed is because I've been guilty of it myself, much to my own chagrin.

Truthfully, I was just parroting what other people used to say. If you were HIV and STD negative, you were "clean". 

But think about that. What's the opposite of "clean"?


So does that mean that people who have HIV or herpes (two of the STDs/STIs that can't be cured) are "dirty"? Or that someone who has one of the curable STDs/STIs is "dirty" until they're done with treatment?

Of course not!

But that's what the implication of the word "clean"--that if your'e not clean, you're "dirty" and in the case of incurable infections like HIV and herpes, that is a terrible thing to say to someone, even without meaning to. It only adds to an already enormous stigma that comes along, particularly with being HIV positive. 

Get tested! If you're in MI, check out, if you live somewhere else in
the US, check out the CDC's website:
for a testing location near you
People make all kinds of assumptions about people who have sexually transmitted diseases/infections and there is a LOAD of misinformation circulating around the Internet and in people's heads and even in classrooms and Congress about what sexually transmitted diseases are and how they're spread. Believe me, I know. I volunteer for AIDS Partnership Michigan and most of the time my job is answering the help-line. Mostly I get calls from Michigan, but occasionally I get calls from other states--and it boggles my mind the things that people have been told about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Obviously it would be grossly unethical to give specifics, so let's just leave it with it blows my mind that in 2014 people still think they can contract HIV from doorknobs, toilet seats, shaking hands, or giving someone a hug--that people become anxious when they discover that a co-worker *might* have herpes or genital warts.  A) you can't believe everything that's said around the water cooler and B) unless you're having sex with the person, you don't have much to worry about.  

But people are still afraid. There's still a stigma. And using the word "clean" to mean "disease free" only adds to it. The more these conditions are stigmatized, the less people are willing to get tested for HIV and other STDs/STIs. If you don't get tested, you can't get treated, and just because something is incurable doesn't mean you can't live a normal, healthy life, IF you take care of yourself the right way--and "right" is something you can only figure out with your doctor. 

Here's another way to look at it: I don't have cancer. I don't have multiple sclerosis. I don't have Parkinson's disease. I don't have Alzheimer's. I don't have arthritis. I don't have lupus. I don't even have a cold. 

Does that make me "clean"?

Or does it simply make me free of diseases and virus infections?

Are people with these diseases/infections somehow "dirty" or less deserving of our love and support?

Please. Think about the words you use. Don't feed the fear. Don't add to the stigma.

Saturday, November 15

Tentacles and Chain (Ch. 19)

If you're here for the Sex Positive Blog Hop, you can find that post here. 

If you're here for this week's installment of Tentacles and Chain, read on...

Chapter Nineteen

Trellen finished the last of the tender muscles Master had brought him. They were something new and tasted nothing like anything he’d ever had before. The meat was sweet and savory at the same time, salty, but not overpoweringly so. The last bite gone, he leaned against his Master’s shoulder feeling contented. Happy. The feeling only increased when Master laid his one arm around his shoulders and with the other hand, tilted he Trellen’s chin up, coaxing him into a soft, sweet kiss. When they separated, he laid his head on Master’s shoulder and closed his eyes.
 “You’re not going to go back to sleep, I hope,” Master said, his tone full of warmth. “There’s something I wanted to show you.”
“Show me?” What could he possibly hope to show Trellen in the dark?
Master ran his hand over Trellen’s cheek, then slipped from the bed, letting his fingertips trail down Trellen’s arm, until he came to Trellen’s hand. He grasped hold of it, so their fingers intertwined. “Come, my sweet little Pretty and see for yourself.” He gave a gentle tug.
Trellen let himself be pulled up and guided from the safety of the chamber. He knew the way to the chamber where Master liked to “torture” him—although Trellen really couldn’t call it that—so when they veered a different way, he moved closer to the safety of his Master’s body and only relaxed when he felt a strong tentacle slip around his waist. There was little Cetaceans feared more than travelling blindly through the darkness. Unlike the dolphins and orca they called cousins, Cetaceans were not gifted with the ability to bounce sound off objects in the water. It made Trellen wonder how Master saw so easily in the pitch blackness of Below. He didn’t use echolocation; Trellen would have heard it if he did. But he must have something.
“Where are we going?” Trellen asked.
“Patience, my sweet.”
But Trellen knew that tone. Master used it when he was excited about something, like when he’d brought Trellen the urchins wrapped in kelp for the first time. Or when he has some new game to play.
What game could Master be playing now?
The water’s scent changed and Trellen’s heart skipped a beat. “We’ve left the cavern.” He could feel the current, fresh and clear against his skin. It wasn’t the Blue, but it was still the open sea and for a moment he longed for nothing more than to tear away from his Master’s embrace and swim free, if only for a few minutes—but if he did that, he would be easy prey for predators lurking in the dark. Trellen shivered and held Master tighter.
“Easy, my sweet.” Master soothed, tightening his grip on Trellen’s waist. “These waters are safe.”
Trellen nodded but didn’t let go. When he felt Master taking them upward, however, his heart began to race anew. How far were they from the Blue? Surely once they were in the sunlight, Master wouldn’t restrain him—would he? It would be pure torture if he did.
But he said he wouldn’t play mind games with me.
He also said I couldn’t see him until I told him what I fear. Perhaps Master had changed his mind? Oh please let that be true. Trellen had tried so many times to imagine what Master looked like, but the picture refused to paint itself in his mind.
Would Master allow him to breach the surface, smell the air, and feel the sun on his face? Goddess, it had been so long! He would give anything for just a few moments in the sunlight.
Will he breach the waves with me? Did Cephalopoda leap above the waves like Cetaceans, Trellen wondered. He’d certainly never seen an octopus do it. But Master must be able to. He was so strong. What would it be like to swim together through the Blue?
To sit together in the sun.
Trellen gazed upward, hoping for a glimpse of light, but even as the pressure began to decrease, the waters remained dark. It must be nighttime. Still. It was the Blue whether sunlight filtered through the waves or not. This was home and his heart ached to be so close and yet so far away from everything he had ever known and loved. “Are we near the colony?”
“No, sweet.”
Relief and disappointment waged war within his heart. It was better this way, better not risk being seen with the Unspeakable One. Better not to risk losing his Master and be taken back to a place he could never call home again anyway. Better my family thinks me dead than for them to know how tainted my soul has become. It would break his mother’s heart to see him like this. His sisters would weep. His brother….He looked up to me. Pain made Trellen’s heart heavy. He used to become so annoyed at his younger brother for always wanting to follow him. Now I would give anything just to see him one more time. But it was better that it never happened. Because if they knew what I was, they would forever hate me.
Trellen was so engrossed in his own thoughts that he didn’t realize the sea around them was suddenly teaming with bright specs of blue light, like tiny stars in the darkness. “What…what is this?”
Master feathered a soft kiss to his temple and loosened his grip. Trellen panicked and held on tighter.
“Easy, my sweet. We’re near the surface. There’s no moon out tonight, but you should still be able to see well enough to make your way.”
“Please don’t go too far.”
“Never.” But then he released Trellen.
For a moment he faltered—the he flipped his tail and swam. It felt good to have the current rushing past after having been confined for so long. But then he doubled back toward his Master. He let the current carry him amid the tiny, swirling stars. They were beautiful—magical. With a flip of the tail, Trellen breached the surface and breathed in the cool night air, salty and sweet. His heart soared. The sky above was as black as the black waters of Below and as filled with stars as the water. Like swimming in the sea of heaven.
Trellen floated on his back for a long while, gazing up into the moonless night—then he heard a splash and turned. Master. His features were obscured in the shadowy dark, but Trellen knew his presence. “This is…it’s incredible.”
“I thought you would like it.” Master’s voice was pure music in the open air, not at all like the strange timber it had below the surface.
Trellen swam to him and thrust both arms around his neck; he pressed his lips to his Master’s mouth and Master returned the kiss with ardent fervor. “Thank you for bringing me here,” Trellen said when he broke the kiss.
Master smiled; Trellen couldn’t see it, but he felt it. “You are welcome, Pretty. Come. There is an island near. When the water hits the shore, it glows blue for as far as the eye can see.” 

Wednesday, November 12

Sex Positive Blog Hop

We live in a strange age.

Slut shaming 
     (I hate that phrase, by the way; I don't appreciate the implication)
Sexual harassment 
Gender inequality
Sex Positive Apps for your smart phone
    ("a shame-free sex ed app from the University of Oregon")

We live in an age where elected officials talk about "legitimate rape" as if it's there's any other kind. Sometimes I feel like for every one step we take forward in reclaiming our strength, our sex, our equality (and when I say "our" I mean males, females, and everyone in between), other people conspire and even succeed in pushing us two steps back.


Because people who control their sexuality are powerful and there are people in the world who fear powerful people. I'm not talking conspiracy theories, here. "Other people" can be anyone; your father, our mother, your peers. Other people can be people who mean well, but fear their own sex, their sexuality--who fear that if you take your power for yourself, you will somehow be taking something away from them. But what they don't realize--what you may not realize--is that that power was never theirs. In most cases, other people can only have power over you if you allow it. Obviously, there has to be law and order and all of that; I'm not talking the power of the police to patrol the streets or your parents to keep you safe, I'm talking about your power as a consenting adult to make informed choices about your own body.

I'm talking about the power we lose when we give into fear.
"If you have sex before marriage, no man will want you."
"Why should he buy the cow if you're giving the milk away for free?"
     (Yeah, great mental image there, thanks for that self esteem boost! Not.)

We, as women, also get a lot of mixed messages.
"Don't wear that skirt; it's too short. You look like a slut with all that makeup."
"Why don't you put on some makeup? What? Do you want the boys to ignore you?"

I'm totally sure men get them too, but being female, I only know the ones I heard growing up. And yes, even things like "you should wear something prettier" or "why don't you put on some makeup?" are statements meant to control us (even when they're said with the best of intentions) and nudge us into conformity. They're statements that take away our personal power. If I choose to wear makeup, it's something I'm doing for myself, because I happen to like the way I look in it. When my grandmother suggested I wear makeup, she was suggesting it because she wanted me to find a boyfriend. Of course he had to be a certain kind of boy--you know, the kind that didn't want to have sex, because sex before marriage was dirty and bodies were things to be hidden from other people, but especially people of the opposite gender. After marriage, sex and nudity were okay--behind a closed door, and in the dark. Sex certainly wasn't an activity meant to be enjoyed and it wasn't a topic ever to be discussed. Ever. Never, ever.

A lot of people carry that kind of baggage with them.

As a student of shamanism, I was introduced to the concept of "soul-loss." No, I'm not talking demonic possession or selling your soul to the devil, I'm talking about the idea that we, as humans, routinely give away pieces of ourselves to other people and sometimes, when the relationship ends, we forget (or don't know how) to take those pieces back. The result is called soul-loss, but what it means is power-loss. Those relationships don't have to be romantic. When we move out of our parents' home and begin to live on our own as adults, it's only natural to adopt our parents' values and ideals. I'm not saying that's wrong; I'm saying that we should examine those values and ideals to make sure they're really ours and not theirs.

If YOUR value is to abstain from sex before marriage (or maybe forever) that's your right. Honor it. Honor yourself. It's your choice.

If YOUR value is to have lots of sex with lots of people, that's also your right. Part of honoring yourself (and your partners) is to practice safe sex, to protect yourself and your partners from diseases, but otherwise, you should always feel free to enjoy your body and the bodies of others.

If YOUR value is somewhere in between, guess what? That's wonderful, too. The point is that it's your choice (and your partner/s), not your parents', your peers', your religion's, or your cultures. You have to form your own core values and ethics and no matter what your feelings are toward sex and sexuality, you should feel good about who you are inside. We all have to own everything that we are.

We lose a piece of ourselves when we allow other people to make decisions about our bodies--our sexuality--for us. By reclaiming that right, we we reclaim a part of ourselves that may have been lost a long time ago. Take back what's yours. Own it. Honor it. Revel in it (responsibly). 

One of my favorite sex-positive books is Anne Bishop's incredible fantasy novel, Sebastian. I'd love to hear what your favorite sex-positive books are--it can be anything that shows sex, sexuality, or sexual power in a positive light--or characters who grow out of old fears and into new self-esteem. 

EDIT: I just discovered a series of articles by the Huffington Post called Teen Sex: It's Complicated. Even though the series is by and directed at teenagers, I think it's something we can all benefit from reading, whether we have or are friends with teenagers (or children of any age because eventually they will be teenagers) or are adults were just raised screwy (which I think probably 90% of us were, in one way or another).  

Saturday, November 8

Tentacles and Chain (ch. 18)

Chapter Eighteen

Trellen cried out as pain exploded across his chest. In response, Master bit his nipple harder and then sucked it, making Trellen whimper and writhe. He was suspended vertically, his arms bound behind his back in what felt like an intricate lattice work of rope. A heavy chain secured the rope to the chamber ceiling, another held his tail to the chamber floor, giving him very little ability to wriggle away from the painful bites and pinches—very little ability to lean into the sweet kisses or soft caresses.
“Perhaps I should pierce these,” Master crooned, flicking one of Trellen’s enflamed nipples with his thumb and forefinger so hard Trellen gasped. “What do you think, Pretty? Would you like it if I hung little loops from your nipples? I could attach chains to them and lead you around.”
Trellen shuddered. He wasn’t sure he would like it at all.
But then Master moved his hand back to Trellen’s cock and began stroking it once more, bringing him almost instantly back to the brink of orgasm.
“Please,” Trellen begged him.
“Please what, Pretty?”
It was too hard to form words. Master had been alternating between biting and pinching—kissing and caressing—taking him just up to the edge of orgasm and then denying him for hours. Sometimes he did all three at once, pinching one of Trellen’s nipples or biting the back of his neck while he simultaneously stroked Trellen’s cock. It was like being torn in half, wanting to cry out for mercy, wanting to beg for more.
Wanting it to stop. Wanting it to go on forever.

“Tell me what you want, my Pretty,” Master crooned, as he stroked Trellen’s cock. “Tell me, and I might do it.”
Oh Goddess, please. “Please. Please fuck me. Master… I want you to fuck me. I want to come. Please.”
Master transferred his affection to Trellen’s anal slit—but that didn’t mean that the torture was over. Master had teased him there, too, caressing Trellen’s slit. Licking him there. Nipping. Fingering him slowly, caressing that spot deep inside until Trellen was sobbing, and then withdrawing, moving completely away until Trellen begged him to come back, to do whatever he wanted, just so long as Master was touching him again.
“Please fuck me,” Trellen begged again. “Please.”
Master slid one finger inside, but he didn’t touch he place Trellen most wanted him to touch. “I don’t know,” he mused slowly. “I think I could keep you like this a while longer.” He slid his finger in and out of Trellen’s channel, never touching the sweet spot, but making Trellen writhe and moan nonetheless. “I could keep you dangling for hours yet. Maybe I’ll pleasure myself. You can’t see it, but you could feel it. I could come against your back like I did once before.”
No! “Please don’t. Please fuck me. Master. Please.”
“Why? Because I promised to let you come when I fucked you?” He withdrew his hand and Trellen let out another strangled cry.
“Please. I need your cock. Please. I’ll do anything you want.”
Master chuckled; it was a sinister sound that both frightened Trellen and excited him.
“My sweet Pretty. You have no idea how much I love seeing you like this. Strung up. Helpless. Needy.” Master ran his fingertips over Trellen’s chest, avoiding his bruised, burning nipples. Trellen melted into his caress. “You are so beautiful.” He pressed a kiss to Trellen’s mouth and Trellen returned it.
When he abandoned Trellen’s mouth, many long and wonderful moments later, Master cupped his face in both hands and wrapped his tentacles around Trellen’s body. He caressed Trellen’s over-heated skin; Trellen relaxed into his grip, savoring every sweet touch. “Please,” he whispered. “Please?”
“Tell me that you belong to me,” said Master. “Tell me you’re mine and only mine.”
He didn’t hesitate. “I’m yours. I belong to you. Only you. Always you.” He leaned in, sealing his words with another feverish kiss. “I’m yours,” he repeated, then kissed his Master again as hard as he could. “Master. Please fuck me. I’m yours. Use me. Take me. Please. I belong to you. Only you. Always you.”
Master let out a fierce growl that went straight to Trellen’s cock—then without any other warning, he breached Trellen’s channel.
Trellen cried out. It burned. He wanted more. He tried to buck his hips, but his bonds didn’t allow it. All he could do was submit to his Master’s pleasure. “Please. Master, please—”
 “Soon, my sweet. I will let you come soon.”
“No. I mean…oh!” He buried his head against his Master’s shoulder as Master hit that spot deep inside him and fire shot through Trellen’s veins. “Please…my hands. Let me hold you. Please, just this once.”
For a half a second, Master seemed to lose his rhythm and Trellen feared he may have overstepped his bounds—but then the ropes loosened and fell away from his arms.
Trellen pulled both arms around his Master’s neck and held on tight, kissing him—his neck, his jaw, his mouth—while Master continued to fuck him hard. Every nerve was on fire as pleasure jolted through him. “I won’t last long,” he warned as he fisted his hands in Master’s long hair. “Please…please say I can come. Please… I… can’t….” He was so close. Holding back the orgasm was like trying to stop a typhoon. He felt his Master’s lips on his, Master’s tongue in his mouth; his kiss was savage. Strong fingers dug into his back and Trellen pushed up to meet every thrust. Goddess, how had he lived before this?
Finally he felt Master shudder, felt his release and shuddered with him, kissing Master as hard as he could, clenching his muscles tight around Master’s cock, the way Master had done for him. Master wrenched away from the kiss long enough to breathe, “now,” and then claimed his mouth once more as the orgasm rushed through Trellen’s body.  
Master held him through the violent aftershocks, feathering soft kisses to his cheek and forehead, whispering soothing words of praise. At last, when Trellen lay still against him, Master used his tentacles to release the chains, while keeping Trellen wrapped securely in his arms.
When Trellen was free of his bonds, Master gathered him up and carried him back to the bed chamber. He laid Trellen down and settled in next to him; Trellen curled up against him, seeking his Master’s chest with his lips, laying soft kisses against his cool skin. Master rubbed his shoulders and back, easing out the knots left behind by being bound for so long.
If only this could last forever.
But nothing lasted forever.

Monday, November 3

Hornet's Nest . . .

   . . . or why I let my RWA membership lapse 3 years ago 

No. A title like that doesn't bode well. I am very well aware that this is likely to come off as some sort of sour grape rant--and maybe to an extent it is a little bit about sour grapes. But next month, I'll be giving a talk about writing romance to the Detroit Working Writers and I'm very excited. And a little nervous. And one of the things I expect to come up (or that I suspect I'll end up talking about) is professional organizations. That's got me thinking about my lapsed RWA membership and whether or not I should come back on board. 

Ever since college, I've been told that one should always join a professional organization because they offer
  • Networking opportunities
  • Learning opportunities 
  • Legal assistance
  • Keeping you up to date with industry trends
  • Support 
In addition, many offer scholarships, health insurance options, and host conferences. 

So, like many starry-eyed young romance authors, I went out and joined the Romance Writers of America shortly after my first novel was published. That cost me $95, plus a $25 processing fee.

So, $120 so far. In addition, I joined the online LGBT chapter of the RWA, the Rainbow Romance Writers (or RRW) for another $25. Not mandatory, of course, but I'd just been hearing about all of the (genuinely) awesome work they'd been doing to make sure the RWA treated authors of LGBT romance equally (something that has been a major issue in the past.)

So now we're up to $145. Every year.

But wait. I joined the RWA primarily for networking, not online classes or their newsletter filled with how-to articles.  I've been reading Writers' Digest since the early 1980's. I'm not an expert on writing, but there are only so many ways to write the same old article on dialogue or making your protagonists likable. So I plunked down another $35 to join my local chapter (who are, by the way, totally awesome!) because while I belong to a critique group (also awesome), I wanted contact with other romance writers. 

We are now up to $180. Per year. 

And here comes the kick in the pants. 

Please remember that I paid all this out after my first novel came out. With a publisher. I have nothing against self-publishing and would have gone that route if I'd had to. But I didn't! I had a publisher like my book enough to buy it. I had an advance check and everything! Yes. Exclamation marks!! I was floating on air for months. (Okay, I still float around on Cloud Nine when I think about it.) It is a great feeling to sell your first book and to your favorite publisher no less? As far as I was concerned, I'd made it BIG.

Unfortunately, the RWA didn't see it that way. 

There are two major tiers in the RWA, the Published Authors Network (PAN) and the "almost published authors" club (PRO, but for the life of me, I can't find anywhere on their website that reminds me what PRO stands for.) 

Here's what the RWA site has to say about PRO (underlines mine):

PRO was created to serve RWA members who are pursuing publication, but are still waiting for "the call" from a publisher. PRO promotes the interests of RWA members who have submitted at least one completed manuscript, but have not yet been published, and, to enhance communication between those members and publishing professionals.

PRO focuses on the business side of writing rather than craft and offers many benefits to its members. To be eligible to join PRO, RWA members must either provide proof that they have completed a romance manuscript and that they have submitted the manuscript to a publisher or literary agent.

Seems pretty straight forward, right? Obviously, I should be in PAN, the Published Author's Network. I had a contract. I had a book in my hands. 

But then I read the criteria for membership to PAN on the RWA website. (And again, underlines are mine)

General PAN Membership: Any RWA General or Honorary member in good standing who has earned at least: (1) $1,000 in the form of an advance on a single Eligible Novel* or Eligible Novella** (“Option One”); or (2) $1,000 in the form of royalties or a combination of advance plus royalties on a single published Eligible Novel* or Eligible Novella** (“Option Two”); or (3) $5,000 in the form of earnings for a Self-Published novel or novella (“Option Three”) that meets the definition of Romance Fiction shall be eligible for membership in PAN.
Provisional PAN Membership: Any RWA General or Honorary member who has contracted for the publication of an Eligible Novel* or Eligible Novella** for an advance of at least $1,000 shall be eligible for an 18 month provisional membership in PAN.

Ut-oh. I only earned a $500 advance on my first novel. It took me six months to earn that back. In the next six months, I think I earned another couple of hundred dollars. It was werewolves and Victorian London. A niche within a niche, within a niche. But I didn't care, I had a book! I could hold it in my hands. I had freaking amazing cover art! I was PROUD. (I still am proud.) 

But according to the RWA, I wasn't a Published Author, I was an "almost" published author. (The president of my local chapter thought that was hogwash, and listed me as a PAN member in their directory, regardless of what the RWA had to say about my income level.)

(My third novel, by the way, hasn't fared any better; only my second novel would have gotten me into PAN. Why? Because BDSM sells. HIV, not so much. Now ask me which one I think is the more important book to my career. Of course I love Jason and Henry, but it's a different kind of love than what I have for Pasha and Daniel.)

I understand that there has to be a bar somewhere, but surely if I had a contract I qualified as a Published Author.......alas, no.

And here's the other kicker: the author of those Cum for Bigfoot novels? Yeah. If she's to be believed--and I see no reason not to--she could have made it into PAN as a self-published author while me and a bunch of other people sat around in the sidekick's lounge even though we had contracts with established publishers. (**And just for the record, I don't begrudge the author of those Cum for Bigfoot books a single red cent. She put her kid through college writing that smut and more power to her for doing it. It might not be my cup of tea, but obviously it's somebody's. Lots of somebodies'.

Besides being interested in networking (and being able to call myself a real-live published author), in that very early stage of my career, I was very interested in writing contests. 

But, nearly all of the contests advertised in the monthly RWA newsletters were 
  • for unpublished authors
  • or authors who had gone five years w/o a contract
  • and/or for unpublished manuscripts
  • open to non-RWA members
Um. So. What were published (even though I couldn't join PAN) authors supposed to do? (Answer: find other sources for writing contests/book awards.) 

So yeah, when the time came to renew, I decided to spend $180 on other stuff. Like entering those contests I could enter without being a member and going to conferences that cost less than the RWA's (hugely expensive) yearly conference, but at which I had a lot of fun. (Not saying the RWA shindig isn't fun; it looks like a blast! But at that point my career, it wasn't something I could afford. It's still not something I can afford. It also isn't the only romance conference in town.) 

Sour grapes? Yeah, maybe. 
Or maybe it's a matter of watching how I spend my royalty checks and wanting to get the most out of a professional organization. Depending on what you're looking for, RWA might be perfect for you. So in the interest of fairness, here's what they offer (directly from their website):

  • Advocacy: RWA advocates for the best publishing practices for its members, including fair contracts from both publishers and agents.
  • Romance Writers Report: The RWR is a trade publication that mails monthly and covers all aspects of the romance writer's career. Free with your membership.
  • eNotes: A bimonthly e-newsletter that delivers current industry news right to your e-mail inbox. Free with your membership.
  • Local and Online Chapters: RWA has approximately 145 local, online, and special-interest chapters that members of the national association are eligible to join.
  • Leadership Opportunities: RWA General members are entitled to run for a variety of leadership positions, including committees and the RWA Boards of Directors.
  • myRWA: myRWA is a private online community where RWA members can connect with each other, network, and enhance their RWA membership experience, as well as access content specifically for RWA members. 
  • Contests and Conferences: Members are eligible to enter the prestigious RITA and Golden Heart contests at the discounted member rate. Also, members have the opportunity to participate in the many RWA chapter contests and conferences for published and unpublished works. Members also receive a discounted rate for the Annual Conference held each summer.
  • RWA University: RWA's online education hub for members.

(But please remember that even the big, prestigious RITA is open to non-RWA members, you just pay a slightly higher fee to enter--and the RWA isn't the only game in town if you're interested in writing awards.)

The RWA is like anything else: you get out of it what you put into it, assuming it has what you're looking for, in the first place. I'm not nearly as interested in writing contests any more (and have discovered a host of LGBT book awards that I would rather win, anyway. I mean, sure, what romance author doesn't want a shiny RITA trophy on their mantle? But it's not as high of a priority...and I can still enter and even go to the summer RWA conference, I just have to pay a little more.) What I'm interested in these days is:

  • Networking
  • Keeping up with the industry (yeah, I know good freaking luck!)
  • Advocacy
  • Legal support (if I ever need it)
  • Teaching opportunities 
  • Media support or "help, how do I use all these platforms to promote myself!?"
When I Googled the question "Should I join the RWA?" some interesting things came up, including some information about the Author's Guild and why some folks were going there, instead. 

Here's what they offer:

Members of the Authors Guild receive free reviews of U.S. book contracts from experienced legal staff, low-cost website services including website-building, e-mail, and domain name registration, access to our free Back in Print service, our quarterly print Bulletin, and invitations to panels and programs throughout the year.
And the cost?

$90 a year. 
(And the website hosting? It's $6 a month. After the kerfluffle some of my fellow m/m authors have had lately, I'm really looking to get off Blogger, at least for my main page.)

And guess what? 

I don't receive a "substantial advance" so I won't qualify for a voting membership any time soon, but I could still come in as an "associate member" as a "book author." 

Which is exactly what I am. 

What do you think? Are professional organizations worth it? Or can we do just fine without them?