The First Time I Had Sex After Getting Herpes

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The first time I had sex after getting diagnosed he was wearing that black blazer I loved over a white v-neck shirt. We tasted like beer and early summer sweat, finals over, medication finished. Sunlight spilled through my bedroom window and my back was against the plaster wall. I think my roommate was out; otherwise she was right on the other side listening to One Direction and worrying about me like the sister the universe knew I needed that year. Continue reading

Cleis Press Blocked Me on Twitter Today

My desk at the old Cleis Press offices.

My desk at the old Cleis Press offices.

This blog post is a little personal and a little petty, but sometimes that happens.

I interned with Cleis Press the summer after I graduated from college (June through August 2014, for those of you following along at home). Working for the biggest and baddest (but also indiest and scrappiest) erotica publishing house in the States had been a dream of mine since I picked up my first copy of their blockbuster Best Women’s Erotica series. Cleis books formed the backbone of my thesis on the feminist potential of erotica, and I wrote reviews of many of their titles in exchange for a free copy. Walking into Cleis on my first day was like walking into a candy store, the walls lined floor-to-ceiling with books on kink, sexual health, fantasy and activism. In between hours building Cleis’s Tumblr and drafting tweets to promote upcoming author events, I flipped through the pages of erotica collections and fantasized about seeing my name on the Table of Contents someday soon. I made incredible friends, discovered my love for social media, and connected with authors who I now consider mentors. It was an invaluable experience, which is great, considering the internship was unpaid and I blew through a ton of my savings to do it. Continue reading

I’m in Another Book! “Tongue In Cheek” is Available Now

558935cd78153c97de600eb0230949d958de4110In the craziness of the past month, I forgot something: I write erotica. It gets published places. Who knew?!

I’m delighted to be included in this badass (and gorgeouscollection published by For Books’ Sake, Tongue In Cheek: The Best New Erotica Written by Women. With a foreword by Girl on the Net, you know this book means business. It’s only in digital for now, but you can download your copy from Smashwords in whatever format you wish here.

My contribution is a short but sweet story titled “Laundry.” It was the answer to a question that had been puzzling me for months: how do you write erotica about stable, loving couples that is still hot and surprising? On a Saturday afternoon, I gave myself a prompt to write something challenging. Something with dialogue. Something sensory. Something… kind of gross. Continue reading

I’m back… and I’m in a book!

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It is so god damn beautiful.

What’s up, freaks? I’m home from TED2015, and I have not entirely recovered my sanity. I’ll be back in the blogging swing of things soon and I have a bunch of reviews and blog posts in the pipeline. April is STD awareness month, which is a great opportunity for me to tell you a bunch of awkward, hilarious, gripping tales about living with genital herpes. Get excited, yo. There will be tears. There will be romance. There will be herpes puns (probably).

Wow, I am punchy. Working a major conference will do that to you.
While I regain my eloquence, composure and stability, here’s something to keep you entertained: my second anthology! Tide yourself over with the beautiful book Heart, Body, Soul: Erotica with Character, new from the New Smut Project, which features my short story “Very Impulsive, Very Angry.” I’ve shared excerpts of it on the blog before, but here’s the low-down: it’s new adult fiction, full of hookup culture and feminist critique of the virgin/whore dichotomy. For those of you from Wesleyan, the bulk of it takes place in the PAC lecture halls and High Rise (apartments).

If that’s not convincing enough, New Smut Project openly identifies as a feminist project, with a focus on better representations of race, gender identity, and non-heteronormative erotica. They are the BEST. They are like, all of the things I love. Continue reading

In honor of Erotic World Book Day, let’s read my first erotica.

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Tom Riddle, as played by Christian Coulson, was responsible for my pre-teen sexual awakening and early erotica.

Guys, I’m so fried. I am actually so fried. Today is Erotic World Book Day and I want to write about how much erotica kicks ass, but all I’m capable of doing is watching House of Cards and mainlining Diet Coke. I just moved to Brooklyn (more on that soon) and I’m still sleeping on an air mattress so my neck hurts like hell. I have no furniture other than my roommate’s admittedly glorious leather amchair. A week from today I leave for Vancouver to do social media on site at TED2015, and this blog will probably go on hiatus for most of March after my recap of the Bachelor season finale in a few days. My mind is literally everywhere but erotica.

But Erotic World Book Day comes but once a year, so fuck it. Hi. Hello there.

The first erotic story I ever wrote was actually Harry Potter fan fiction, in which Hermione Granger went to the Room of Requirement for some stress relief and found a handsome Head Boy waiting for her whom she did not recognize. I was thirteen years old, and I did a pretty classic fade to black before I had to write any actual sex. I’d yet to have my first kiss—all I knew about sex came from reading other fan fics. I misspelled fervently, included way too many adverbs as I was wont to do, and used the phrase “prominent cock.” I had no idea what erotica was, I had never seen a penis in real life, and I was terrified someone would find this short story. I never published it online, convinced it would scandalize my loyal readers who devoured my Draco/Hermione romance, updated weekly. This story was about Tom Riddle, aka a young Lord Voldemort, and it was about needing to fuck.  Continue reading

My characters care about safe sex because I have to

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Celebrating a very special anniversary.

A few weeks ago, Tamsin Flowers wrote a thought-provoking post about whether or not erotica authors have a responsibility to incorporate safe sex in their fiction. A reviewer noted that Tamsin’s characters hadn’t used condoms, and that this seeming disregard for safe sex nearly ruined the story for her. Tamsin’s articulate response was that erotica provides an escape from real world concerns of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, and her fiction is in no way intended to be educational. She argued that whether or not to incorporate condoms in erotica should be up to the individual author and relative to the work itself, and plenty if not most erotica authors and sex bloggers agree with her. Remittance Girl, K D Grace, and Molly Moore have written their own takes on the topic, making various points to reach the same conclusion.

I’ve wanted to write my own post ever since I read Tamsin’s, because I get the sense that this debate could use a different perspective. But to be frank I’ve been scared shitless. To do this complicated topic justice I have to address the very different vantage point from which I see safe sex in erotica—not just as an author but as a person with experiences that color my understanding of sex itself. Continue reading

Writing the other love: Intimacy in hookup erotica

Photo by JoellenLove.com

Photo by JoellenLove.com

I took over Exhibit A’s blog again, this time with my new short story “Camille.” As EA notes in the post’s introduction, on the surface this story could not possibly be more different than the first guest post of mine he hosted over the summer. Where “Slush” was about sex in all its “cold, hard and intense” glory, “Camille” is soft, slow, and cerebral. But when writing this post I realized that they actually have a great deal in common, as they both address something I’ve been teasing out through fiction and in my own life for years: How can we be intimate with people we are not “with”?

First, an excerpt of Camille to provide reference (you can read the tiny short in full here):

There was a long, exposed zipper on the back of her dress and he tugged it down slowly, tooth by metal tooth. Most women he just fucked, but sex was something different with her. Sex with Camille had a way of peeling his skin back until his hands shook as he touched her. He guided one sleeve off her shoulder, and then the other, and she turned to stare at him with big, gray eyes that burned even when she cried—he knew, he had seen it. She had an elegance that disguised so much force. Sometimes she wrote her anger into his bones and wanted it to hurt but tonight wasn’t one of those nights. She reached out with one of her tiny hands and brushed his hair out of his face, and she smiled as she poked his cheek. He grabbed her wrist and kissed her thumb. That was how they worked: she gave him her time, and he allowed her to see him like this.

And an excerpt of Slush, as it’s been a while (full story here):

The sex they have isn’t nice.

They used to love each other. The memory is a splinter driven too deep in her palm to dig out with tweezers: a dull and irritating hurt, worsened by the temptation to pick. He used to hold her messy and tight in the middle of the night when it got cold and she drifted away across the mattress. They do not sleep together now. They fuck in the small spaces, in bathrooms, against bookcases. They do not hold each other. Instead they tear in selfish, desperate scratches.

They do not talk much either.

“Slush” and “Camille” fall on opposite ends of the intensity spectrum, but they exist in the vague hookup culture universe of college. The characters care about their partners immensely, but they are not with their significant other for whatever reason. There is respect and there is desire and there is an odd sort of stability at play. The only difference between the two is pain: in some ways “Camille” is the before, and “Slush” is the after. Continue reading

My 1st Blogiversary: Here’s what I wrote this year (with GIFs!)

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One year ago today, I started this blog. I remember the moment I hit publish for the first time surprisingly well: it was a very cold night in January, and I sat at the kitchen island of my campus apartment with my laptop and a Diet Coke in an old-fashioned glass from the Dollar Tree. My blog was originally light gray text on a dark gray background, or some such design disaster. I published a simple intro post announcing that I was a not-quite adult who wanted to build a website of her very own. It was the only New Year’s resolution I have ever kept.

I cannot express how much I have loved creating this space. Running this blog has helped me connect with so many extraordinary writers, thinkers, and friends, and updating it regularly is a pleasure, never a chore. It has evolved in focus, less of a place for my fiction as I had originally intended than it is a home for observations, introspection, and occasional flareups of rage against the patriarchy. This blog has grown up with me, morphing with each milestone of my young adult life. I can’t imagine what shape it will have taken by this time next year.

I’ve also gotten… ballsier? Shit got real when I talked about serious issues like fraternity abuse, post-graduate depression, and STI stigma, and my reviews aren’t as fluffy as they used to be. I’m surprised but delighted to find my place in the community as a young and vocal erotica social justice warrior. For me, blogging isn’t just self-promotion or ranting about the feels—it is a challenge and an adventure.

That being said, some self-promotion is fun and necessary. Here’s a crash course of my first year on the interwebs:

I reviewed a ton of erotica. Some of it I loved, while other titles sparked more rage than arousal. It made me think about how erotica can be more feminist, and why we call it “women’s erotica” when bros like them some smutty literature too.

I also wrote erotica of my own. Oleander Plume stole my first time in print virginity with Chemical [se]X, and my erotica appeared on Exhibit A’s blog, in Tamsin Flowers’s erotica advent calendar, and in my free ebook Memory Foam. And no, I am not using a pen name.

Taylor Swift and I connected on a deep, spiritual level. “Blank Space” changed how I understand my sex writing, the resulting essay winding up on Thought Catalog. She also seriously mislead me about what it’s like to be 22.

Continue reading

Ella’s Drunk New Year’s Eve Erotica: 2015 Edition

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Photo by By Maria Azzurra Mugnai

Last year I started a tradition of staying in on New Year’s Eve, drinking a bottle of cheap champagne by myself, and writing whatever struck my fancy. The 2014 product was a good one: a substantive and lush little story called “Charlie and Reece” about intimacy and dating after leaving an abusive relationship. This year’s product is a little less… thought-provoking, but that might have something to do with me drinking Veuve Clicquot instead of a $6 bottle of André.

My goal was to write a story for the prompt “Fuck of the year,” aka one of the losing options from Exhibit A’s hilarious Google search term challenge. The poor soul got stuck writing about “lust fish,” and somehow managed to absolutely kill it despite the absurdity of the prompt. Major kudos to Exhibit A.

Inspiration was a little lacking for most of the evening, so I watched St. Elmo’s Fire with my mother and live-tweeted the entire night. 

Continue reading

Book Review: Femme Fatale

GDP002-FemmeFatale_30I’ll be blunt. This anthology fucked me up.

Femme Fatale: Erotic Tales of Dangerous Women, edited by Lana Fox and published by Go Deeper Press, is a petite but walloping anthology about women you really don’t want to fuck with. Fuck, sure, but not fuck with. Its pages are full of theft, murder, love, and power, and its stories are difficult to swallow and exceptionally written. That’s exactly the sort of intelligence and daring I’ve come to associate with Go Deeper Press.

I knew I’d love this anthology from Fox’s introduction alone, which starts with the line, “Just like many other women who have written erotica, I have often been viewed as a femme fatale of sorts.” Excuse me while I snap my fingers in agreement like a pretentious slam poet. According to Fox, femme fatales are rebellious, witty actors who deliciously subvert expectations of femininity. The characters of this anthology pick up where the famous femme fatales of hard-boiled detective films left off, some abandoning gender identity altogether. They are queer, smart, determined, and complex, satisfying my hunger for difficult characters in erotica while bowling me over with the sheer holy shit violence and bite of plot. Continue reading