Adventures in Luton at Sextoys HQ

I got off the train in the wasteland that is the Luton Station, and in the heat and dust, hailed the only taxi left in the taxi rank. I gave him the address.

 ‘What’s the name of the business, luv,’ he asked politely.

 Not sure why he needed that information, I said very quietly, ‘Sextoys,’ Yes, that’s right, the pervy chick who’d just gotten into his taxi wanted him to take her off to fondle sex toys and talk about writing erotica, but couldn’t we do this discreetly?

 ‘Pardon,’ he said.

 ‘Sex Toys dot co dot uk,’ I enunciated a little more clearly and a little louder. Alright, he asked. I’d tell him.

 He screwed up his face with that, ‘didn’t quite catch it, luv,’ look and reached out his hand for the print-out with the address on it. Then he smiled knowingly. ‘Ah, 1-on-1. You want 1-on-1.’

 I nodded red-faced, as he handed me back the page with the words 1-on-1 printed clearly above the street address. Then he headed off to our destination whistling happily as he drove.

 In all fairness, when the lovely Cara Sutra asked if I would do the interview, I really didn’t know what to expect. I only knew Sextoys.co.uk as the mysterious company that sells all those fabulous toys, costumes and other cool stuff on the Xcite Book site — often in conjunction with really hot books – some that included stories by yours truly.

 The taxi ride was about ten minutes to a nice business park that seemed quite upscale in comparison to the train station. I paid the driver and pressed the buzzer of a suite that had a bright, yet understated 1-on-1 sign above the door. Within seconds, Cara Sutra herself welcomed me into what could have passed as any other bright, comfy reception area for any of the myriad businesses in the complex… Except for the colourful displays of dildos, hand cuffs, lingerie, love balls, muff dye and lots of interesting gadgets I didn’t recognize. I’m such an innocent. This was the show room, Cara told me. She apologized for her bare feet, her way of dealing with the spring heat wave. Cara calls herself the ‘Jill of all trades’ at Sextoys HQ, and if her enthusiasm is any indication, I’d say she enjoys her work.

 She introduced me to Rach Starr, who offered me a 14-karat smile and a warm handshake. Rach was the presenter who interviewed me. I was then introduced to the video director and graphic designer in residence, Ellie Douglas, also bare-footed in honour of the weather, and Dean Sturgess, who ran the camera and added a few good questions of his own as the interview progressed. I found out later that Dean is also head of accounts.   

 Perched on a comfy red sofa in front of a huge One-on-One logo, Rach dazzled me with her smile and made me feel right at home while I nattered on and on about two of my favourite subjects; sex and writing – with a bit of walking and gardening thrown in for good measure. God, I’m so predictable.

 Shamelessly I plugged The Initiation of Ms Holly and The Pet Shop, with a hint of things to come in Lakeland Heatwave. I plugged all things Xcite and all of my erotic favourites. And when I paused for breath, Rach brought out her copy of Sex at Work and asked me to sign it. I felt like a celebrity! It was Rach’s last day with Sextoys. She’s an actress now taking a bold step out on her own. Good luck to you, Rach!

 At some point Dean asked if there was anything I would love to write but didn’t because I knew it couldn’t be published, which led to a discussion of the standard guidelines for most published erotica, and of course the differences between porn and erotica. Oh yes, lots of naughty folks at Sextoys HQ. And, wait for it, yes Ellie is a gardener – a veg gardener! Truly a woman after my own heart. The conversation wasn’t complete before we compared the size of our tomato plants.

 Then Ellie whisked me off for a tour of Sextoys HQ. The first stop was the enormous warehouse. Oh my, my! An erotica writer’s paradise. I’ve seen dildos and vibes and strap-ons before, but there were multiples… large multiples of everything! The colourful metal stock shelves rose from floor to ceiling full of every imaginable sex toy, gizmo or gadget, and some things I really couldn’t have imagined. In the spring heat, the huge sliding stock door was open to the fresh air.  Music played on the radio, and the place was a hive of activity. There were people filling orders, people stocking shelves, people rearranging shelves, and there were smiles and greetings all around. I was introduced to everyone in a whirlwind, so all I really remember are smiling faces and joking banter.

 Then Ellie took me up to the centre of the operation, a bright open-plan office with huge plate glass windows letting in the light on three sides. If I’d been a cat I would have staked out a place on the carpet in the sun and had a snooze. But this place wasn’t about snoozing. Keyboards clicked and copy-machines copied. Ellie introduced me to customer service, IT, and other office personnel, again all offering happy smiles and greetings, though that could have possibly been because Kirspy Kreme donuts were the order of the day – probably for Rach’s send-off.

 My favourite place had to be the catwalk out over the warehouse. I think it’s a hopeful sight, seeing floor to ceiling shelf after shelf of sex toys and other sex goodies with the sun streaming in behind the swirl of activity below. It was lovely to be in such a sex-positive place and to be with other people who think sex is worth celebrating.

 By three I was on the fast train from Luton back to St Pancras, but not before I was invited to The Manor to see Ellie’s tomatoes and her chickens – another adventure for another time. I left Luton with the good feeling that comes from meeting new friends who share a common passion. As the train pulled away, I felt as though I were leaving a part of me behind. Then it came to me, I’d left my jacket in the studio, my own sacrifice to the spring heat.   

 Cara tells me the interview will be on Sextoys.co.uk’s Vibe TV page, and will also be on attached to the product page of my books. I’ll pass the word when that happens.

 

It’s Time for Garden Porn

Two words…garden porn. Oh yes! I’m most definitely addicted. Do you have any idea how many luscious, deliciously explicit garden sites there are? Though I like pretty flowers just fine, and though plump red strawberries are enough to get my heart rate up, what really gets me going, what really makes me quiver all over is vegetables. My, oh my, how I love to look at sites that sell vegetables, or sites that give advice on how to grow vegetables, or sites that show photos of really well put-together veg gardens. Does it get any better than that?

 Oh, and the garden centres! I adore the earthy scent of fresh compost and fertilizer, of greenhouse heat and rank, growing plants, all overlaid with the scent of espresso from the coffee shop. And it’s not just the scent that I love, it’s the feel of a quality wooden handled hoe or garden fork resting in the relaxed but firm, grip of my hand. Some are designed especially for a lady’s light hand, while others are thick and long and manly. There are metres and meters of gossamer thin garden fleece all ready to caress my plants with that peek-a-boo hint of what lies beneath on a frosty spring night. There are multi-coloured, oh so soft, gloves to protect my hands while I’m groping and tugging in a weedy bed.

 And the plants. This time of year plants that aren’t just loaded with gaudy blooms already are heavy and swollen with buds about ready to burst. Stiff phallic shoots are coming up everywhere, and the heady scent of new growth is intoxicating.

 Personally, I don’t think it’s any surprise at all that I go both ways – erotic writer and vegetable gardener. We’re talking about the best of both worlds here. And inspiration, Wow! My seedlings are mostly in the mini greenhouses now, but when they first push up through the soft potting compost with just the tiniest hint of pale plant flesh pressing through the glossy black earth, it’s a teasing par excellence. My breath catches, my heart races and I’m positively bouncing with excitement.

 I’ve written about naughty things to do with carrots and courgettes, and I’ve written about kink amid the topiary. It’s true, getting down and dirty among the growing things makes me hot and sometimes sore. I planted runner beans today, squatted in the rich earth, digging and watering and patting in place. There’s still dirt under my nail,s and my shoulders ache. Yes, it was good for me.

 It’s true — I like the heat and the dirt, but what I like best of all is that the Muse hangs out in the vegetable garden. When I’m getting down and dirty in the beans, the Muse whispers fabulous naughtiness, amazing imaginative titillating tales in my ear. He’s practically giving it away, when I’m up to my knuckles in compost. I think the Muse likes garden porn too. It makes him  loose and easy with his ideas, and there I am hunkered down amid the weeds and the beans, completely unsuspecting of what he’s about to whisper to me. It’s always hot, and he always makes it good for me. Oh yes. I do like garden porn. I can hardly wait to write down all that he whispered in my ear while I took my pleasure planting beans.

Just a little added note: Keziah Hill just informed me that there is an actual site called Garden Porn. I just checked it out. A site where the ‘Hortisexuals’ hang out is my kind of site!

 

In the Company of Women

I’ve gone through long swaths of my life with men among my closest friends. And I’m a lucky woman in that my very best friend is my husband. But one of the fantastic fringe benefits that has come with writing erotica is the fabulous company of women. Whether online or up close and personal, time spent with Real Women, sexy, lusty, smart, empathetic, lovely women is NEVER time wasted.

I get lots of chances to think about my vibrant relationships with women these days. Saturday night’s fabulous smut fest at Sh! Portobello was a perfect example. I love reading my stories in front of an audience, but I love listening to other women read theirs just as much. And the warm fuzzy feeling is only enhanced by a little pink fizz in a place as sex positive and pro-chick as the Sh! Stores are.

Saturday night was a triple celebration of Women Together. The fabulous artist Mayo’s lovely work graced the walls of the Sh! Portobello gallery/event room. All of those lovely charcoals and pastels illustrated some of my dear friend and great erotica writer, Kay Jaybee’s stories. The art work most definitely set the mood. Kay Jaybee read from her hard-pounding, sexy novel, The Perfect Submissive, which I’d already read and loved. But I have to admit, hearing Kay read from it out loud, sat there on the posh pink throne all booted and swathed in black and red, was a much more visceral experience… in the hottest sort of way. Kay also gave us a teaser from her new e-anthology, Yes Ma’am, with hot and sweaty squaddies in the midst of delicious nastiness in ‘lying in Wait’. Kay and Mayo would have enough to send me back home on the train to Surrey totally blissed out. But too much of a good thing is even better!

To add to the lovely girlie naughtiness of the evening, the luscious Lucy Felthouse was there, reading about a steamy champagne-soaked encounter with a hot waiter in ‘Just Couldn’t Wait.’ The remarkable Rebecca Bond, in her lovely mauve heels, delved into crime and punishment in her gritty hot story, ‘Sin City.’ And the yummy Victoria Blisse cleaned up with her story of a very naughty, very hot cleaning lady caught in the act in ‘Dirty Deeds.’ These three lovelies were at Sh! for the aural debut of the critically acclaimed anthology, Uniform Behaviour, edited by Lucy. Uniform Behaviour is a great anthology by any standards, but even more remarkable as Lucy’s first effort, though most thankfully it won’t be her last.

If the setting provided by the lovely Sh! Ladiez wasn’t enough, with wonderful art work, colourful displays of tempting sex toys and hot readings, the audience itself was awash in a bevy of sultry writer chix. I had the pleasure of sitting next to the fabulous Lily Harlam, whose sizzling fairy tale novella, The Mother of All Hen Nights, still heats me up when I think about it. Lexie Bay was there. Lexie is another one of the fabulous Uniform Behaviour chix, who opted not to read…this time, though her fabulous story, ‘In Love and War,’ like all the other stories in the anthology, shines.  Also there was the lovely Lavinia Lewis, whose novel, Luke’s Surprise, has things boiling over at Total-E Bound.

The evening was stirred to perfection by the  Sh! Ladiez, Always on hand to make sure the pink fizz flowed and no one suffered from want of a cupcake. And even more important, they were always ready to tell everyone about all the great toys and books and corsets and other sexy items in the store. Ladiez, you’re the best!

I certainly wouldn’t want to short-change the men behind the pink throne. Where ever sex-positive, imaginative, steamy women go, the blokes won’t be far behind. And it’s no surprise at all to find the highest calibre of men in attendance – sometimes a little shell-shocked by the sea of pink and the tables of sex toys, but quietly, charmingly taking it all in, and often playing the very important role of photographer.

Yes, I’m often in the company of women these days, whether it’s just a quick text to one of my close erotica friends or whether it’s plotting and scheming as we mooch around the London Book Fair, as I was lucky enough to do yesterday with Lucy Felthouse and Rebecca Bond. I’ve always enjoyed my male friends, and still do very much. And I would be the first to admit there are some fabulous men writing erotica now, but I appreciate the company of women because we all know what the journey is like for a woman to embrace her wild side, embrace her vibrant, gritty, dangerous, tender sexy self and step forth with enough confidence to write it down as something to be valued and shared and celebrated… often with pink fizz and cupcakes.

 

It’s All About Sex … and Creativity

Sex and creativity are often seen by dictators as subversive activities.  —Erica Jong

My husband knows I’m always looking for interesting articles about sex. He sent me one the other day about masturbation as a treatment for restless leg syndrome (It’s orgasm that actually seems to help. The means is optional.) This led us to an impromptu  discussion of all of the other benefits of sex. Sex is a good sleep aid, sex can help with weight loss, sex can improve skin, hair and nails, just to name a few. There was even a recent article in Psychology Today about semen as an anti-depressant. The jury, however, is still out on whether sex is an aid or a deterrent to creativity.

 For the naysayers, abstinence has long been touted as a way to focus sexual energy for creative purposes. On the other hand, a study at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne and the Open University showed that professional poets and artists had almost twice as many sex partners as other people. The study also showed that the number of sex partners increased as creative output went up. The conclusion drawn was that the more creative you are, the more sex partners you were likely to have.

 I’m sure that’s a simplification, but I wonder which came first: the sex or the creativity? Is it the creative force that makes us horny, or is it being horny that makes us creative? My guess is that every writer, poet or artist would answer that question differently. However, I don’t think there’s any denying the close connection between the creative force and sexuality. Nor do I think that’s particularly surprising. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Freud was right. It IS all about sex. But I wonder whether we really understand just what sex is all about.

 Yes, the basic biology is obvious, but we humans haven’t had sex simply to procreate in a very long time now. We’ve evolved to want, to expect, even to need more from the sex act than just the next generation. Perhaps that goes hand-in- hand with our cultural evolution, what sets us apart from our animal cousins — at least in our own eyes. For humans, all things seem to have evolved two meanings. First there is the concrete realm in which we’re born, nurtured, thrive, reproduce and die. But we develop another level of meaning when we no longer have to use all of our energy just to survive. When starvation is no longer an issue, food and its preparation and presentation become art. When keeping out the cold is no longer an issue, clothing becomes fashion, and magazines tell us how we can be walking galleries for the art of clothing. When finding shelter from the elements is no longer necessary, our very homes become an artistic expression of ourselves. In a world where all our basic needs have evolved more than one meaning, the artistic expression becomes as important as the function.

 But all of these necessities are mundane. Sex is not. For our ancestors, sex was the magic by which two people become three. Today sex is the magic by which two people become one, or by which one person becomes more herself or himself. On one hand procreation has given way to re-creation,  but on the other hand, how can an act that has evolved from the very need to create the next generation be rooted in anything but creativity?

 How can the process of creating be anything but sexual? Writing a story is a penetrative act resulting in something larger, something much more alive than the words on the page, than the idea conceived. That’s heady stuff. That’s the writer in full rut. It’s intimate, it’s messy, it’s rough and tumble, it’s voyeurism and exhibitionism and full-on heat. If it isn’t, then there hardly seems to be a point.

 That being said, anyone who has had good sex, lingering sex in which time seemed no longer to exist, will recall that what mattered was the wonder of the act itself, the amazing intimacy with the other. Any writer or artist knows that experience up close and personal. At some point the creative act itself becomes the sum total of existence. The writer’s world shrinks to and expands out from that act, and the end no longer matters.

 So how did I get from masturbation for restless leg syndrome to once more worshiping at the altar of the Divine Creative Sexual Force? Well I suppose it’s all just a part of the journey isn’t it? And besides, where else would I go with it?

 What’s Happening

Speaking of creativity, I spent a lovely day the 2nd of April with the Sweet ‘N Sexy Divas on their great sight talking about writing not being a means to an end. The conversation was great, and the Divas rock. I highly recommend a visit to their site.

Today I’m with the fabulous Tonya Kinzer talking about the writing process and pushing the envelope.  I always have a great time talking with other writers and hearing what works for them. The woman gardens and drinks red wine! I think those fine traits speak for themselves. Stop in and say hi.

Family Friendly Working Ezine had a fabulous interview with Xcite Book’s fearless leader, Hazel Cushion, this week . The woman is amazing on every level and the article is great. Plus it quotes moi. I’m very pleased to be apart of Xcite.

The week has been about clearing the decks, getting blog posts, promo stuff and short stories off the table so I can start in full-tilt on Lakeland Heatwave next week, and I’m more than ready to get down to a little Lakeland fun.

In other news, there have been two very long, very delicious walks on my home turf, both resulting in some serious encounters with the Muse. And the portable greenhouses are bursting at the seam with seedlings waiting to go in the beds. Both beds now have peas and cauliflower planted.  Creative work is dirty work:)

Wishing everyone almost too much of a good thing!

 

The Great Outdoors Volume 2, More of a Good Thing

Any way you undress it, sex al fresco is the archetypal erotic fantasy, and in her latest offering, The Great Outdoors Volume 2, Two Erotic Short Stories, Lucy Felthouse reminds us once again just why that’s the case. Lucy gives us two wet-hot stories that simmer with sex and chemistry.

In Ms Felthouse’s opening story, Zoe’s first date with Nick at Stratford-upon-Avon starts off as a dud until a rainstorm calls for a little improvising. In the second story Anna and her hot Scottish gamekeeper, Greg, are back by popular demand, with a story that’s almost too hot to handle, but might have benefited from the tiniest bit of a recap for those unlucky enough not to have read The Great Outdoors, the first volume yet. On the other hand, maybe Ms Felthouse knows that if you haven’t read the first TGO, you’ll be scrambling to buy your copy after you’ve read the second.

 Lucy Felthouse has a talent for taking everyday life, lighting a fire under it and making  it sizzles larger and sexier than life. The sex is hot, and the stories are fun and quirky, with more than a hint of romance. Great Outdoors Volume 2 is another Felthouse winner.

 The two-story format is a great sampler size for newbies to erotica or to Lucy Felthouse, or for anyone wanting a quickie, but I warn you, they won’t be enough. Maybe five stories in volume 3, Ms Felthouse? Possibly ten? Hmmm?

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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