Wednesday, March 20

Grace Duncan "hops on by", just in time for the Spring is in the Air Blog Hop!

How's that for timing? So, before I turn the stage over to Grace to talk about BDSM and her book Choices, let me get some business out of the way.

I was asked to write about what spring means for me. That's an easy one! It means I get to start all those seeds that I've been buying since January when the seed catalogues come. The seeds don't just represent all the yummy veggies I'm going to be harvesting come autumn; the seeds represent new hopes, new dreams, new plans and they remind me that hopes and dreams require hard work to bring them to fruition. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, but the harder you work for it, the sweeter the reward!

In celebration of Spring (and flying in the face of snow storms!) I'm giving away the following fantastic prizes: 
  • TWO Second Place Winners will recieve $7 gift certifcates good for any book from Dreamspinner Press (purchase must be made through the DSP website), where, you know, you could go buy Grace's book Choices if you don't have it already! 
  • ONE First Place Winner will recieve a $14 gift certifacate good for any book from Dreamspinner Press (purchase must be made through the DSP website) AND a signed copy of one OR both of my novels (Bound: Forget Me Knot and Heart's Home).
Entering is simple:
       Just leave a comment below and tell me what's your favorite thing about spring. There is no wrong or right answers, I just like to see who's paying attention  ;-) Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you. 
       If anyone happens to want to help girl out, I just found out that my second novel, Bound: Forget Me Knot is up for an a Romance Reviews award and if you want to take a second and vote for a juicy BDSM novel click here. You have to register with the site, but you can do that with Facebook (and it's a really awesome site, anyway).  You really don't have to vote for me to get in on the goodies here (I wouldn't be able to check anyway), but it's probably good karma  ;-) International entries ARE welcome--but you have to eighteen or otherwise a legal adult in your home country to win.
       And remember that you're still eligible for the GRAND PRIZE, an eBook package from XOXO publishing. (You absolutely must include your email to be entered for the Grand Prize). You can return to the blog hop by clicking HERE -- but before you do, check out my very special guest for the day!

And now without further ado,
here's my guest,
the talented Grace Duncan

Thanks to the huge success of a certain to-remain-unnamed series, BDSM (for those that followed me here, that's bondage & discipline/Domination & submission/sadism & masochism) has a flood of new books and fiction. Some of those are quite good, and accurate to the lifestyle, such as my lovely hostess's Bound: Forget Me Knot. Some...aren't.
When I set out to write Choices, I knew right off that there would be BDSM elements in the book. Teman was, after all, a pleasure slave. So, that was a given. But I'd had no idea how much would be there, to what degree I'd go… much less how much of myself would be reflected in Teman.

If there's one thing I've learned since I discovered the world of BDSM, it's that no two people approach the lifestyle the same way. There are, of course, plenty of similarities, but BDSM is a very individualized experience. How much someone wants to get tied up or how much pain they can take - or give, all of these can vary greatly from one person to the next. So when I decided to write about it, I knew my best bet was simply to go from my own experiences. What happened when I was given pain? How did I handle it? Did I like being tied? What parts of submission were most important to me?

The problem with many of the… less than stellar stories with BDSM is that many people who write it have never experienced it. They do a cursory bit of research (if they do any at all) and call themselves experts. Yet most of the people I know in the Scene would insist that none of them are experts… even people who've been involved in it for years. Why?

Because BDSM is, as I said before, very individualistic. There are common pieces, don't get me wrong. The basic credo that anyone with a real understanding of the lifestyle adheres to is “safe, sane and consensual” along with its sister, “risk aware consensual kink.” But the thing is, once you get past that, what one person likes, another can't stand. I might be what we lovingly refer to as a “pain slut” - i.e. masochist but another submissive may not be interested in it at all.

So when I set out to write Choices, I had to figure out where in the spectrum Teman was. The problem was, he'd never experienced any of this, so he had no idea. So, again, I drew on my own experiences. Bondage was easy, I'd certainly felt my share of rope and there was no doubt that they'd have to get tied up. I liked pain and realized pretty quickly that it would be in important part of the story for a number of reasons. I also knew that Teman would need a submissive side, which would surprise Teman quite a bit (though not as much as liking pain).

And really, those weren't the difficult parts of writing the story. What I thought the real challenge would be is that I'd never before put down the idea of how pain went from pain to pleasure for me. I'd never written that aspect of it. In the fanfiction I've penned, it's focused on the psychological side of D/s more than the physical. I've used the physical, but not concentrated on it.

So as I wrote the training that Teman went through, I had my own Sir help me remember what it was about pain, how it all worked for me. A big part of it is my submissive tendencies. As I have an innate need to please, the last thing I am going to want to do is use a safeword unless I need to - even if I'm not entirely enjoying pain yet. So when I start out, it hurts and not always in a good way. It's not always bad, either, just to be clear. I do like pain, but how I get from “ow, that hurts!” to “Oh, give me more!” was what I needed to know.

So, my Sir set up a Scene and I did my level best to stay out of subspace so I could pay attention. Well, that didn't happen, but it told me what I needed to know. See… it did hurt, a lot at first. But I knew that I was pleasing my Sir by taking it, so I keep going, determined to take more. Then, at some point I have never been able to know, it switches. Almost like a light going on. And I like it.

Here is a short excerpt where Teman discovers the switch during one of his training sessions:

But before he could think too much about it, Cyrus's hand became more insistent and Teman found himself fighting yet again to work through the pain to find the pleasure. He gripped the peg tightly, his jaw clenched, caught between the two. His body was as confused as his mind until finally, at some indefinable moment, it switched. He liked the feel of the stings, he wanted more.

A moment after that, the command was given. Teman had no idea that Cyrus's hand had stopped moving, didn't realize it was the pain that sent him over the edge--the pain and the command, not the stimulation to his cock. He shouted as his orgasm hit him, body shuddering, the strikes continuing through it. As he came down from his climax, he began to realize the pleasure had been amplified by the pain, rather than diminished by it. Finally Teman went limp, hanging from the peg.

So it turned out that pain wasn't all that difficult, after all. The training also helped me build Teman's submissive side up and being with Bathasar and hearing praise from him brought the rest of it out.

Now the really difficult part of writing the BDSM into Choices wasn't this. After doing this bit of research and working out the pain and submission, I realized what was going to be much more difficult: actually showing the safe, sane and consensual side of BDSM. See, I have a problem in that I refuse to write it unless I can put it in there.

But Teman's a slave who doesn't have a choice, right? So… how do I give him one? And what about this cruelty that is hinted at in the blurb?

Well, the second was a bit more difficult. To be perfectly honest, the scenes with Mukesh were very difficult to write because I do not like to write cruelty. It was a necessary evil in this story, both to show what Mukesh was capable of as well as to contrast what Teman's service should be like. I had to sit down and think of the exact opposite of what I would want my Sir to do with me, then amplify that. My beta, the poor thing, went through nearly as much hell as I did over these scenes. I was grateful that they came out as close to complete as they did the first time. I would not have wanted to dwell on them.

So, then, where is this choice? By definition, as a slave, he shouldn't have one. I also didn't feel that it was historically accurate to actually use a safeword (or the terminology of “safeword”), but I still wanted it to be consensual and wanted the good side of Teman's service to be safe.

But the answer ended up being surprisingly simple, in the end. While Teman didn't have a safeword, per se, Bathasar insisted that the best way to please him was for Teman to make sure to tell him if the games were no longer something Teman wanted to do. When the scene in question came up and I wrote it, I literally smacked myself in the forehead over it.

BDSM is a tricky thing to write, in my opinion and one of the few things that I believe requires actual experience to write well. Many of my friends in the lifestyle use the phrase “get it” in that when you read a story about it, you can tell if the author “gets it” or not. That's not to say you have to be able to wear a cock cage to write about it, but at the very least, the psychology behind it is something very difficult to understand enough to write about if you've never experienced it even a little.

Thanks to the lovely Helen for hosting me! I really appreciate it!
  • Do leave your thoughts behind for a chance to win a bag of swag and be entered for a signed paperback that I'll award at the end of the month!

Thanks for reading!



Born and raised a gypsy in the late eleventh century, Teman values freedom over everything. He and his best friend, Jasim, are thieves for hire--until one night they're caught and their precious freedom is revoked. Given the choice between the dungeons or palace pleasure slavery, they become slaves, but Teman vows to escape someday.

Bathasar doesn't want the throne. He supports his brother instead, which suits their sadistic father, Mukesh. When Teman, the handsome slave Bathasar has secretly been watching, saves his life, Bathasar requests a slave for the first time. Before long, Bathasar and Teman fall in love. But all is not well. One day Mukesh brutalizes Teman before the court, angering the empress of a neighboring nation. To appease her, he then offers her Jasim as a gift, and Teman decides to stay with Bathasar for now--despite the abuse he may suffer.

The peace doesn't last. Mukesh plans to invade Jasim's new country, and Bathasar must find a way to stop the destruction. But if he succeeds, he'll ascend to the throne and have the power to grant Teman his liberty. Then Teman will surely leave him. What other choice could a gypsy make?

Buy link:

Grace's Blog 


Pickleweasel said...

I love this post so much. I'm learning a lot more about BDSM nowadays and can really appreciate even more how important it is that it be portrayed realistically in fiction. I do love the comments on how individual it is from person to person.

I think it's great that you chose to and were able to take the role of Teman so to speak - yay for having a Sir willing to help for the sake of research (well, besides the inherent entertainment in playing).

You really did a wonderful job with the cruelty scenes... I know it was hard to write but they came out so powerful.

As for the lack of safeword and how to give Teman his freedom of choice, so to speak... Bathasar (and you) handled it brilliantly.

Well done.

And I'd like to enter the spring contest too - my favorite thing about spring is the flowers! I know, I know, a lot of people are allergic and I feel bad for them, but I love watching the pretty things bloom! Though sometimes I like the temperatures best... stupid weather is bouncing around in MD right now...

Also even though I've yet to read Bound: Forget Me Knot, I -did- vote for it when you posted your last entry because I've read samples of your writing and the summary and well, if Grace vouched for it, it's gotta be good. I -will- read it though! Sooner rather than later if I am among the winners!

email: pickleweasel1208(at)gmail(dot)com

Thanks for hosting!

Chelly said...

Powerful stuff. I'm not going to pretend that I know anything substantial about the bdsm lifestyle. It is nice however to see someone involved in the lifestyle that still does ample research before putting something to paper. Great job. And I can say from a reader's perspective, the cruelty scenes were extremely difficult to read but they were a necessary evil, like you said. Mukesh had to be the opposite and extreme for the rest of the story to play out and end as it did.

Spring contest -- my favorite part about Spring is the rain. The smell of rain after it falls is heavenly. And the beautiful flowers that bloom are nice to look at as well.
Contact - michelle(dot)gruen(at)gmail(dot com)

Tali Spencer said...

You do a lovely job of explaining what a "pain slut" is and about reaching a threshold. I enjoyed reading about your experience in doing a scene for research. Made me smile because, well, I've done that, too, just from the other end. In my case it meant debriefing my subject, which kind of kills the afterglow but works better than interrogating him during, if you know what I mean. :D

Enter me for the swag, but especially the signed paperback because then I can enjoy Choices again the way I like my books best. It's a keeper. :)

H.B. Pattskyn said...

Tali, I know what you mean, when I buy and ebook (or audio book) and really love it, I end up buying it in paperback too because it's easier to enjoy over and over that way :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome explanation of BDSM. I've read a few books about it that weren't that good. Looks like I have a couple of titles to check out :)

As for the Spring blog hop: my favorite part of spring is that it means it's almost summer and that means summer break! (except this year, I'm taking a couple of classes, but not a full load, so it's sort of a break!)


Catherine Lee said...

When I think Spring, I think of the haze of yellow pollen covering EVERYTHING (including the cats), seasonal allergies, tourists, crowds at my favorite restaurants, traffic jams, resuming pay-for-parking at the beach, even mosquitoes. It's not my favorite season! I do, however, like the beautiful blooms of forsythia, azaleas, cherry trees, and pear trees.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

andys said...

My favorite thing is finally getting to do some gardening! Which I then reconsider because it's so much work. *sigh* Oh, and the book sounds great.

H.B. Pattskyn said...

Andy LOL I know what you mean. We had a couple of nice days here and got in some work, but it was so much work! It'll be worth it come summer when everything is pretty and green!

Anonymous said...

@Pickle - Thank you! I'm glad the post came out well and that the cruelty scenes did what they were intended to do.

@Chelly - I'm glad to know that my own research worked to make it sound right.

@Tali - I love paperbacks. I just wish they weren't so bloody expensive! Even my own. LOL And thank you. I have done lots of research before. I once had been prompted to write a wax scene and spent an entire day pouring wax over myself (with my Sir's help, of course), to see what the different ones felt like. LOL All in the name of research. *nods*

@Benji - Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the post and I do hope you get to read and enjoy both my book and Helen's. Bound is truly wonderful!

@Andys If you mean mine, thank you! :)

@Helen - I love gardening but just do not have the time or the energy for it these days. :( I wish I did. I miss fried green tomatos. Maybe I'll have to do just one tomato plant. What I love about spring is warmer weather. I do not handle cold well, so I always love the warmer weather. And to watch seedlings grow. It is always so cool to watch them break through and turn into plants. :D

AJ said...

I just finished reading this blog and I must say I was so impressed with the fact that you actually learned about the lifestyle on your own. Its so true that some BDSM books written someone reading the book can tell that the writer is just writing because that is what's hot now. I would love to win your swag but if I don't your book will definitely be one of my purchases for my Kindle. As well as anything else you write.

P.S. totally read and voted for Bound and can't wait for more blogs..or even the whole story at once would be so

H.B. Pattskyn said...

Thanks, AJ! Once the Jason and Henry story is done I'm going to see what it would take to put on Smashwords or Amazon; I want to offer it totally free, but I'm not sure if that's possible or how it works...but I'll figure something out!


bn100 said...

nice post
like the flowers
Thanks for participating

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Meghan said...

Thanks for the giveaway! Spring is in the air, but unfortunately living in Upstate NY, it is not even close to arriving. It snowed again at my house just tonight. I'm looking forward to the warm weather and longer days though. Spring is the time of love and my favorite romance novel is entitled "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon. It's not strictly a romance novel as it's found in the literature section of a bookstore, but it has strong romantic elements. Jamie Fraser is my favorite romantic hero as he's strong, sensitive, honorable and slightly flawed. Sometimes his pride gets in the way of making the right decision, but in the end, he'd do anything for Claire.
I love this giveaway hop! And, I plan to keep on hopping!

mestith at gmail dot com

H.B. Pattskyn said...

Meghan: We keep getting snow here, too (MI), although I think you guys have gotten pelted harder than the rest of us lately!

Outlander is an incredible multi genre novel :)

Cassandra said...

I love how everything comes to life and it feels like a fresh start :)
Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

Anonymous said...

I adore seeing life spring anew all around me. The smell of fresh spring rain showers doesn't hurt either. :)
Thanks for being part of the hop.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nayjf said...

My favorite thing about spring is that the sun has not yet gone down when I leave for work, and that makes me feel much less like a vampire. I also like the warm weather!

Unknown said...

I love planting flowers and being outside... I am not a fan of cold so when spring comes i am all for it. We spend a lot of time outside doing family stuff and normally take a trip up to the mountains.

Ashley Applebee said...

what a great post! I love BDSM stories. I also love spring because I can finally GET OUTSIDE!! We don't go outside much in a Wisconsin winter!
Thanks for the great giveaway!! Happy spring!!
Ashley A

Anonymous said...

awesome post! i love spring because i love seeing all the flowers i'm an april baby. it's the time for beginnings and renewal....who doesn't like that? =0)

ladyofcolor25 (AT) hotmail (DOT) com

Unknown said...

Good day! Thank you very much for the chance to enter the giveaway (I always like to get that out first and foremost because once I get to babbling I'm always afraid I'm going to forget my manners and forget to say thank you).

I'll get the spring thing done as well so I don't forget that :) My favorite part of spring is it getting here! It's sure taking it's time this year. This morning it was snowing flurrying and just above freezing out there. Now it's a little above 40 but I don't want to jinx it and let it know that! My really real favorite thing about spring though is opening up the windows and letting the wonderful fresh air in and the stale icky air out. That is going to be very woohooable!

This blog is amazing! It has so much information and fun reading stuff on it that I saved it to favorites so that I can come back to it when I am done hoping around (which I almost am). I see bags of swag and excerpts for books and I want to do and read everything but I can't right now!! Oh I think I might just love this blog now!

So, I will thank you again for the chance to enter the giveaways and wish you a very happy spring (and a very happy spring if anyone else reads this, to them as well).

Shelly H.

Mimi Smith said...

Like the nice weather and beautiful nature.

anasmithblue AT gmail DOT com

Krysykat said...

I love this post in so many ways :)

Krysta B.