Emerald Talks about Pink Floyd, Being Tied Up, and Her Amazing Story, ‘With Random Precision’

One of the highlights of the Erotic Authors Association Conference in Las Vegas this September was meeting Emerald and being totally enthralled by her beautiful bondage story, With Random Precision. I’m very excited that Emerald has agreed to be my guest and tell us the story behind With Random Precision.  Welcome, Emerald!

“With Random Precision” is titled after a lyric in the Pink Floyd song “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”  The song plays a central role in the story, which seems fitting since it is published in the Love Notes: A Music & Sex Anthology, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel and published by Ravenous Romance.  Even before I ever saw the call for Love Notes, though, the music in “With Random Precision” was deeply connected to the story.

Virtually the entire bondage scene in “With Random Precision,” as well as the reference the Pink Floyd music therein, is autobiographical. I was tied up quite intricately several years ago by a friend of mine who has studied and practiced bondage extensively.  In a way he was practicing on me, but we’d also both agreed I might find the experience interesting.  I did—so much so that even as it was happening, I knew I wanted to write about it.

So much about the experience was noticeable—the silence in the room, his intense concentration, how strange being touched by rope felt, the absence of being touched by someone else’s flesh.  Things like how striking it began to feel on the occasions his skin did connect with mine jumped out at me, and some of what is in the story started writing itself in my head as I stood there while he wound yards of purple rope around me in silence.

Where the autobiography stops, perhaps ironically, is in the indescribable experience the narrator, Amber, has as a result of being bound.  What was not there for me when I was tied up that night was sexual attraction between myself and the person tying me up.  We were friends, but the experience for me wasn’t a sexual one.

I felt all the other things the narrator describes in the scene—the silence, the intensity, the uncertainty, and definitely the apprehension when the moment of finally realizing she is bound hits home.  Where the actual sexual attraction wasn’t there, there seemed (still seems) a part of me that inexplicably knew the potential that scenario held had the addition of attraction, that unique intensity enmeshed with a desire for intimacy and a mysterious and unquestionable trust, been there.  Even at the time, that vague understanding captured my attention.  Later, as I wrote the story, it came forth via my imagination.

There was also the music.  The description in the story is quite how it was—it was quiet, and all of a sudden I noticed it, and it captured my attention.  The degree to which it seemed to perfectly fit the atmosphere seemed extraordinary, and I was intrigued when he told me it was Pink Floyd.  I was almost entirely unfamiliar with them at the time.

To digress slightly, I met my partner a few months later.  Pink Floyd is his favorite band, and when he mentioned them to me, I found the timing striking.  I said I had only recently been properly introduced to them (beyond the radio play of “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II” and “Money”).  My partner continued that introduction with impressive thoroughness, and Pink Floyd is now one of my favorite bands too.  Everything the narrator in “With Random Precision” indicates about how she feels about the band is autobiographical.

When I started to write the story, shortly after the bondage experience had occurred, it didn’t seem hard to recall how it had felt to stand there, how quiet the room was, what the rope pattern looked like, how I had felt being tied up.  It wasn’t hard either to remember what had occurred to me about what might have happened if the person tying me had been someone I felt that attraction to, to whom I knew I wanted to surrender what I vaguely—even unconsciously—could feel was there to be surrendered.

I wrote all that.  I didn’t have to think about it much—it was all right there and came out as my fingers typed.  When it came time to actually go further than where the bondage scene ends, to show what happens between Amber and Max, I grew continually stuck.  I tried writing that interaction countless times, with it feeling dissonant each time.

Finally, I realized I simply didn’t get to know.  Not only does the reader not see what actually transpired that night, I myself as the author do not know.  The interaction is a mystery.

As is what the experience might have been like for me under other circumstances.

When I finally let go of trying to create what happened between Amber and Max that night, the final scene of the story, the present-day one that Amber narrates, came about as effortlessly as the first part of the story had.  That scene, to me, expresses the understanding in me of the potential of what that experience could have been had something more been there.  How it could have—perhaps inevitably would have with the characters that came forth in the story—added up to an unequivocal, irrevocable surrender unlike anything I (and she) had before experienced.  The understanding, as the scene, is indirect—it was not seen by the reader, and for me it was not experienced directly.  But some awareness of it was, and still is, in me—even if not (yet…) consciously.

“With Random Precision” remains one of my favorite stories I’ve written.  I don’t know exactly how to describe why, but it has always felt very close to me.  It brings a number of things together—autobiographical experience, speculation of a potential by which I feel deeply intrigued, the opportunity to offer homage to a musical artist that moves me greatly, and the manifestation of something I feel or recognize only on a level beyond my ordinary consciousness.  Thank you so much, K D, for inviting me to talk about it here today.  It’s been really a pleasure!


Our favorite music inspires us to move, dance and, yes, get busy in more intimate ways. Love Notes celebrates dancing queens, rock stars, groupies, anthems and more as the characters stroke each other to the sounds that make them soar. One woman masturbates to her favorite song while a stripper slinks her way into a man’s life. From Madonna to Shania Twain to Led Zeppelin and beyond, they channel their favorite music to make love to.

Love Notes celebrates the erotic power of music to move us, whether it’s listening to a lover rock out, fantasizing about your rock star crush, or making the sweetest and sexiest of music together. Singers, sirens and dancing queens get busy to a sex soundtrack ranging from heavy metal to classical and beyond. Get ready to get serenaded, seduced, and smitten with Love Notes.


With the final silent, firm tug Max gave the rope that secured me to the ottoman, I realized the precariousness of my position.  I had known at the beginning that this was a significant undertaking for me.  But the full realization didn’t materialize until parts of my body, parts I was used to being able to move at will, were bound in place—and the corresponding understanding that he was now in control of that part of my existence.

I couldn’t move.  I was, quite literally, bound.  I thought about what would happen if I suddenly couldn’t breathe, if the claustrophobia of my youth returned, smothering me and taking my oxygen as I lay there unable to do anything to save myself.  I thought of demanding that the rope be cut, screaming at Max to get the binding off me as quickly as possible.  Would he do it?  I wouldn’t be asking—I would be desperate, drowning, screaming inside with not only desperation but the revulsion of knowing that I was utterly, completely dependent on him.  That he could choose to disregard me if he wanted to.  To not take me seriously.  Even as it flitted through my consciousness, the liquid hatred of the idea rose inside me and started to course through my body.  My eyes were closed, but the darkness I was seeing was more than physical—I believe I would have seen it just as much had they been open, staring at the candlelit white ceiling of Max’s living room.

He touched me.  My eyes flew open.  Max was not looking at me.  Rather, he was examining the twists of rope at my left hip, his fingers resting softly on my left thigh.  The contact had brought me from darkness to the surface like a flash of lightning.  I inhaled deeply.

“That’s better,” he murmured in a tone as soft as the pressure of his fingers on my thigh.  “You okay now?”  Still he did not look at me.  His attention stayed on the purple silk strands around my hips and up across my abdomen, as though there were some imperfection there he was fixing.  And I wondered how he had known.


Max shifted his hand.  I felt the knot I had noticed earlier move slightly against my clit.  The jolt of arousal that flooded through me stunned me as much with its intensity as with its unexpectedness.  I looked at Max, who met my gaze and knew what he saw there.

He smiled.  “It’s not about fucking tonight, Amber.  Don’t you know that by now?  You think that’s what you want, but what you want is so much more.”  His voice was quiet, a contrast to the newfound desire pulsing through me that didn’t feel quiet.  Confusion gripped me, twisting my inside with a movement my physical body wasn’t at liberty to reflect.

Max stood and walked until he was no longer in my field of vision.  I heard him kneel behind the top of my head, and his warmth reached me before he did as he slid one hand through my hair against my scalp and the other gently around my throat from behind.  His lips touched my ear as he whispered into it.  The sensation jolted through me like a gunshot, starkly contrasting with the barely existent contact of his flesh to mine.  What was he doing to me?

“Let go.  Let go, Amber.  Do you hear me?”  His voice ran like liquid silk, its gentle seamlessness giving no hint of the boulder-like intimidation of the order as my mind perceived it.  The voice was gentle, lulling, leading where it wanted to take me, knowing that was a place I wasn’t sure I had ever been.  So much so that I didn’t know where it was or how to find it.  The fierce resistance inside me reappeared, surging furiously and searing my senses.  A snowy fuzziness filled my vision.  An acidic sour seeped into my mouth as I raged against this position he had me in.

And somewhere even deeper, I saw that I was really in a battle against myself.

The voice knew that too.  The grip on my throat tightened ever so slightly.  The heat of his breath coursed through me via my ear:

“I know you don’t know how, Amber.  That’s what I’m here for.”


Ravenous Romance (publisher)

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Emerald is an erotic fiction author and general advocate for human sexuality as informed by her deep appreciation of the beauty, value, and intrinsic nature of sexuality and its holistic relation to life. She holds a particular interest in the connection between sex and spirituality and deeply reveres sexuality’s inherent sacredness.  Her erotic fiction has been published in anthologies edited by Violet Blue, Rachel Kramer Bussel, and Kristina Wright, among others, as well as at various erotic websites.  She is an advocate for sexual freedom, reproductive choice, and sex worker rights and blogs about these and other topics at her (NSFW) website, The Green Light District: http://www.thegreenlightdistrict.org.



Susana Mayer Talks About the Fabulous Erotic Literary Salon

I had the privilege of reading for Susana Mayer’s Erotic Literary Salon on tour while I was in Las Vegas for Erotic Authors Association Conference. The experience was one of the highlights of the conference for me, and ever since, I’ve been dying to know more about the Salon and about the woman who made it happen. And now is my chance. I feel very honoured to have Susana Mayer as my guest on A Hopeful Romantic. Welcome, Susana!

KD: What would you most like people to know about Susana Mayer?

Susana: I have recently reinvented myself as a sexologist, receiving my MA in Public Health 2005, and Ph.D. in Human Sexuality 2009. I am not a writer of erotica, except for the occasional titillating emails I send to my beloved.

Presently, I am working on several projects; a unique anthology, ebook form (more info. can be found at the Salon’s website) and a non-fiction self-help ebook to better understand the complexity of libido, sex drive and sexual desire. Bibliotherapy is one of my passions.

K D: Tell us about the Erotic Literary Salon. How did it come about, and how has it evolved since its beginnings.

Susana: Creating the Erotic Literary Salon was a culmination of a lifetime love of erotica coupled with my dissertation investigations (searching for a catalyst for women’s desire to have sex). Conclusions drawn from the research and the sexual climate in the US led me to believe the time was right to mainstream erotica in Philadelphia.

The social messages women have been receiving did not allow “good girls” to admit to enjoying fantasies they consider pornographic. Based on media marketing, our society allows men the liberty of enjoying hard core material, whereas women are relegated to fantasies spurred on by soft core erotica.

Pornography usually conjures up negative judgements, and erotica is a term that is most often equated with sexual material for women. I must admit when I initially created the Salon, it was geared towards women, and I too used the term erotica so as not to offend my prospective attendees. The terms Literary and Salon were marketing tools to extend legitimacy to the event, since I realized porn or pornography would immediately offend people who equated this term with degradation.

Unfortunately, but ultimately most fortunately, the public space where the Salon was to be held could not discriminate against men. From the very onset the Salon attendance has been approximately equal among the sexes. Ages range from twenty-one (liquor law restrict minors from attending) to mid-nineties. Couples, singles, poly — all sexual orientations and an ethnic mix all attend the Salon.

This event has gone through several transitions since its inception. Initially the format followed most closely the concept of a true French Salon. Works were shared, discussed, and critiqued. It has now developed into performance, where the attendees expect to be entertained by the readings. Occasionally I have featured performers who incorporate music, song, or movement with their erotic presentation.

As the host of this event I try to keep the evening flexible, open to the possibilities of discussions, critiques and Q & A. The featured presenters, number of readers and attendee’s responses all impact how the evening will proceed.

It still surprises me when I hear attendees express their gratitude for having a venue to share their sensexual* writings sans censorship. Remarks like; “Susana is doing a very brave thing….It’s hard to overstate what a remarkable event you produce each month….Philly needs something like this,” remind me there are no other events of this kind presently in this area and few in the entire country.

People have confided in me how writing and sharing their words have helped them deal with a myriad of issues. Often this is the only occasion they have to hear how others express their sexuality. Exposure to these writings, especially journals and first person works, have given them the opportunity to reflect on their own sexuality. It can be of great comfort to know that there is such a variety of styles to creating sexual pleasure. For those who are troubled by sexual pleasure, the sharing of words may assuage their guilt.

The Salon has also given victims of sexual abuse an outlet to share their shame. By giving voice to their distress, in some instances the mere act of sharing has relieved them of the burden of shame. For others the control of the pen has allowed individuals to rewrite their sexual history, enabling them to cope more positively with their traumas.

Some people attend the Salon just to enjoy a night out with their friends, or it can be an unusual place to take their date. For an increasing core group of regulars, it is a community of like-minded people who enjoy sensexuala*.

The Salon is many things to many people, but one thing is a constant – each Salon is unique. I never know how the evening will progress, since each month the readings and featured presenters vary. Similar to my daily posts at the Salon’s website, I lend my voice to this event by offering news items with my sex positive spin. Individuals are given the opportunity to view a sexual newsworthy item from a different perspective. As a muse for this event I feel these items not only educate but can be used as research material for their writings.

The Salon also continues via the web between gatherings. Those unable to attend because of distance constraints are able to share their works on the site, while enjoying some of the readings from the Salon. A professor of English in India expressed his gratitude for having a community that would enjoy his writings and comment on them.

I believe the mainstreaming of sensexuala in Philadelphia is slowly becoming a reality. The first year the Salon averaged between 20-30 people. These numbers have climbed to 60-80 attendees any given month.

K D: The Salon sounds like such a wonderful community to be a part of, and I think it’s fabulous that there is a website where those outside of Philadelphia can connect up with that community. You must have so many amazing memories of the Salon, Susana, can you tell us, what was your most memorable experience of the Salon?

Susana: The Salon’s nonagenarian, Frances (she’s my Chosen Mom), read the best seller, “Go the FOK to Sleep.” Can you envision a 94 year old, white haired, 4’6” slim built, beyond wrinkled woman, armed with elocution lessons from grade school (sans microphone) reciting this adult story disguised as a children’s book to Salon attendees? She brought down the house. I have extended an offer to the author to attend in May to hear her once again read this piece. I hope to get permission to video tape and post it on youtube and my website. Can’t imagine him declining.

K D: Wow! I would have loved to be there for THAT reading! It must have been amazing. Susana, how do you see the future of the Erotic Literary Salon? What plans do you have for it?

Susana: I am considering adding several larger events, with the Salon as the foundation while including visual arts, music, dance for a spectacular evening of sensexuala. I’m also in the process of creating a Salon ebook press, not only to publish the Salon’s anthology, but also works of others. The Erotic Literary Salon is becoming an established brand, and I want to spread the word of sensexual writings as a tool for bibliotherapy.

*sensexuala/sensexual. A combination of (sensual & sexual) that does not carry the same judgmental values as those attributed to erotica and pornography. You get to enjoy the value of the piece, eliminating the need to discuss the sub-genre classifications.

K D: Thank you, Susana, for sharing with us. It’s been such a pleasure to interview you, and you’ve raised so many other wonderful questions that I’d love to pursue further that I hope you’ll come back again soon.



Looking for the Wintergreen with Trish DeVene

I’m so excited to have Trish DeVene as my guest on A Hopeful Romantic! Her story, ‘Looking for the Wintergreen,’ from the fabulous Oysters and Chocolate anthology, Nice Girls, Naughty Sex, is one of my favourite stories ever, erotica or otherwise. Trish is going to tell us the story behind ‘Looking for the Wintergreen.’  Welcome Trish!

Walking down a market street in Tokyo, a friend of mine saw a man with a long shine of black hair, cat-like in his stride—a person who halted her own casual walk and made her turn for a gasping gaze. That was twenty years ago and she hasn’t forgotten him, or that moment. Why not? What did it awaken? How did he pass over the threshold of her mind and become housed in her?

Another friend once told me that he and a friend were pulling up beside a car in traffic—a woman driver whose blonde hair flowed over her left shoulder, and whose smooth tanned arm draped lazily the wheel. They sat straighter; they waited for the car to press evenly beside hers. And they asked, “But does she have the face? Does she?” Oh, she did, and the friend wrote a poem because the moment was monumental, stamping his memory. For that moment, had she awakened something, created change? A new poem was born.

Every now and then, we happen upon something or someone that for unknown reasons snares us. I wonder if beauty catches the eye but something else deeper draws the longer look and holds the memory: the mystery, the potential, something sleeping in ourselves come to life? Or is perfect beauty—in nature, art, or people—a balm for the pain in life?

When I began writing “Looking for the Wintergreen,” I wanted quite simply to explore the possibilities of a beautiful man entering a sensitive, withdrawn young woman’s world. Aurelio literally steps up the porch steps, and through the front door of Leah’s remote family home that’s buried under swoops of snow. Except he isn’t made from their remote, white landscape; he is brown-skinned and warm, fit for a house of adobe. In him, Leah sees the summer valley at sunset, the gentle slopes that ride out to the tree line.

Does beauty make us vulnerable? Leah quickly monitors herself, noting as he passes casually into the house that care should be taken in crossing thresholds. “Think first, know the destination, prepare. There should be commitment in any crossing.” No one has crossed this threshold since her father’s sudden and soundless departure from their lives. And Leah, like the house buried in snow, has buried herself in literature—lust and love relegated to daydream only, as the family tries to recover.

Her pain is silent, her loss of trust unexpressed. In books, she finds fascinating heroes who reflect her own desires; she has no need for the messy, disappointing, fleeting attractions of real life, the kind that only leave you vulnerable.

She wonders if this beautiful boy knows what he steps over and into? But when he shakes out his hair, darker than their starless nights, he smiles and his gold-brown eyes sparkle on her. His face is open with trust. And for a moment her fantasy worlds blend with reality. She wants him to step in.

I was a child of gothic romances and fairy tales with noble kings, larger than life men who made the heroine take a second, longer, ever-lasting look. My grade-school girlfriends would get mad at me, asking why I never liked any of the boys in school. It wasn’t because I had too-high expectations, wanting real life to mimic books. It was because, for the moment, my own imagination excited me more. I wasn’t yet intrigued enough to take that messy step out of self and into another.

When Aurelio crosses the threshold into Leah’s house, it is her moment to step out—out of herself, out of fantasies, to take a chance on real life. He sees her desire. He acts on it.

When her brother, heading into town, hesitates at the door, paused in the white slit, one foot over the threshold, Leah urges him out, waiting for the door to slam, and suction Aurelio in.

But Aurelio, in turn, leads Leah outside where the white world melts, where behind the tool shed, he approaches her, his dark frame, his lush copper face, sunlit eyes, the petaled lips that part … kissing him, like gulping a sky of effervescent stars. She relinquishes to her very real desire.

In the end, when they return, he puts his hand on hers on the doorknob. Snow melts and her home’s threshold is new and solid with trust.

For me, stories are like crossing over thresholds, whether we’re closing our eyes to step into a new world in writing them, or we are readers entering an unknown tale to sit in someone else’s skin. And how often in life do we come across something, like the man on the Tokyo street, that opens our eyes or our hearts to a new landscape of possibility?

Thresholds are about change, one room to another, or one life to another. Sometimes the threshold is defined by great circumstances. But sometimes it’s just the passing gift of beauty and our own moment of trust that opens a new door.

In a remote house, buried under silencing snow, a young girl takes refuge in the fantasy world of literature to bury the pain of her father’s leaving. She disdains the clumsy antics of her brother and his friends, certain that in real life there is no one worth relinquishing her trust to, no Arthurs or Lancelots or Sir Galahads.

But when her brother’s friend Aurelio comes to spend the night, she finds herself watching him, sleepless with fantasies about him. In the morning, at their kitchen table, where he sits in his easy beauty, he catches her staring, and she discovers how it feels when a man knows a woman’s desire. A man who won’t leave it buried.


The next morning, rattling pans woke me. My mother was making breakfast for the boys. A hearty breakfast always for my brother. I understood. I was here; he was away. He had that freckled-face enthusiasm that she remembered in dad.

I wondered for a moment what she thought of his friend Aurelio. Would she flush when she passed him a plate of eggs? Did girls scramble for the desk next to his at school? Teachers change Cs to As when he flashed that smile?

I was angry in the melting morning. Icicles dripped outside my window, and I brushed out my hair, vowing not to shower until I had coffee. When I walked into the kitchen, his mouth was open to a forkful of scrambled eggs. He shoveled them in before he smiled. Anger dissipated. I was the melting icicle.

Between him and me were twelve tile squares, two chair backs, one oblong table with a cracked Formica top, and a great wash of blurring sunlight. No slim belt-line barrier this morning. It was as if the entire room were a blockade. I was braless under the sweatshirt I’d thrown on, and the soft fabric scratched my nipples, sharpening them.

“Morning,” I managed, skirting the counter, as far from him as our small kitchen allowed. He grinned again and bit into the toast.

I was used to pale: The kitchen walls a faded yellow wash, the curtains sheer to sunlight, and all of us fair-skinned Irish. He was a shaft of dark color sitting at our table. Raven hair cut a straight line just above his black shirt collar, only a sliver of brown neck, and his hair fringed down his forehead, meeting black, defined brows. He looked down at his plate, focused on food. And he looked warmer than a hot plate of fresh pancakes, that syrup-colored skin shining in the streaks of sun.

I was staring at the sheen on his cheekbone when I realized he’d looked up. The smile was gone, his warm eyes darker. He knew I’d been looking. I tried a small smile and picked up the coffee mug on the counter, but he only stared.

So this was how it felt when a man knew a woman’s desire. I bit my lip, immediately annoyed with myself for this foolish reaction. Bitten lips. What did that mean?

His arm stretched toward me, that smooth hand wrapping the cold chrome of the chair. Here was a bridge – fingernails, knuckles, forearm. “Are you having breakfast?” he asked, and the chair scraped toward me.

I held the coffee pot up. “Just this for now.” I ignored the bridge, poured the dark liquid into my mug, and started back toward the bedroom.

“Did you get to look at the paper?” he called.

The paper. Yes, it was on my bed. I was stalled in the hallway, between the pull of his stare and safety. I pointed toward my room and nodded. The coffee mug steamed, my hand burning around it. I felt my clothes dissipate with the steam, left standing in his stare. “Yes,” I managed. “It’s …”

“I’ll come get it when I’m done,” he said.

I trusted my feet to take me back. I sat on the bed beside the papers. I wanted him.

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Nice-Girls-Naughty-Sex-Erotic/dp/1580053432

Author Bio:
Trish DeVene (also writing as Patricia J. Esposito) has been a writer of edgy paranormal fiction most of her life, but always knew she had a romantic heart and a tendency toward the sensual. Two years ago she decided to explore that sensuality and sold her first erotica short story. She hasn’t wanted to stop. She’s had numerous stories and poems published in anthologies, such as Nice Girls, Naughty Sex, The Cougar Book, Apparitions, and Lights of Love, and in magazines, including Rose and Thorn, Oysters and Chocolate, Clean Sheets, Karamu, Hungur, Sounds of the Night, and Midnight Street, and her GLBT vampire novel, Beside the Darker Shore, was released this year. Long-time married to the “boy-next-door,” she has two daughters and works at home as a copy editor, when she’s not off exploring the intoxicating realms of the imagination and chasing muses.

Personal Links:

Buy Link Beside the Darker Shore: http://www.amazon.com/Beside-Darker-Shore-Patricia-Esposito/dp/1615724168
Buy Link The Cougar Book: http://www.amazon.com/Cougar-Book-Jolie-du-Pre/dp/1905091567


Occupy Mind Street

The other day, I overheard someone say, ‘my mind is occupied.’ And I had one of those ‘Aha’ moments that happen when I suddenly see meaning in a word, meaning that’s always been there, but somehow I missed. Then Friday night, while channel surfing over a bottle of wine and some chocolate, Raymond and I happened upon the 1998 film, Fallen, starring Denzel Washington. Fallen is a film about a demon who occupies people for his malevolent agenda and passes himself on from person to person by touch. And there it was again, that amazing concept of occupation.  Okay, in the case of a nasty demon, the word used is usually possession, but the two words are synonymous in many ways.

I suppose with the occupation of Wall Street and all of the other occupations going on, and with high unemployment causing the loss of occupation, the word was already in my mind in an unconscious sort of way. But I’ve never really thought about what it means to have my mind occupied. What happens when my mind is occupied, and who’s doing the occupying? Surely the occupied mind implies that someone is there other than me, someone who has taken up residence and is now in the driver’s seat, focusing me, perhaps in a way that my unoccupied mind would not be able to focus.

Socrates spoke of the inner voice, what he called the daemon, the ‘inner oracle’ that guided him. For the Greeks, the daemon was an entity somewhere between mortal and god. In his Dark Materials Trilogy, Phillip Pullman manifests those inner oracles in the outer world and embodies his daemons in animal form.

Carl Jung believed each of us is two different entities, two different selves. He believed there was our public persona, the part of us we show to the world, and there was the mysterious, hidden realm of the second self, the self that was more at home with the mystical, more connected with the divine. For Jung, the life journey was one of integrating those two selves.

I can’t help thinking that Socrates’s daemon, Jung’s second self could be just other names for the writer’s muse.

That brings me back to ‘occupy.’ Even in the free online dictionary, all the definitions for ‘occupy’ gave me more food for thought about the occupied mind.

As I think about the unoccupied mind – if there even is such a thing, I think about the blank piece of paper or the blank monitor we writers face each time we settle in to write a story. There’s a passivity implied before occupation can happen, an emptiness. The dictionary defines ‘occupy’ as seizing possession of and maintaining control over. Our word ‘occupy’ comes from the Latin, occupare, to seize. There’s no denying that conquest is implied. A country must be ripe for the takeover, weak, unable to defend itself. There has to be a void to fill. To me, it make sense that a mind must also reach some point of passivity to be ripe for the takeover.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the mind is blank before it’s occupied. More than likely the mind was already occupied, or preoccupied.  When we’re ripe for the takeover, does the occupier come in and sweep out the detritus, the tyrants of busy-ness and lethargy, the sludge of self-doubt and procrastination? Is it a peaceful coup or a violent uprising? And how does the way the occupation of the mind come about effect what we, as writers, create when the occupier comes in, does a proper housecleaning, and takes over the controls?

An occupied mind is a beautiful thing to behold, even more beautiful to experience. And at those times when I’m fully taken over, I’m truly beside myself, watching with amazement while the occupier guides me.

When that happens then word, ‘occupy,’ takes on a new, active meaning. I become engaged, employed, with my full concentration on a task, and that task involves the writing of a story. Since I can’t really skirt the spiritual implications while talking about daemons and muses and the Self with a capital ‘S’, it seems appropriate to bring in that lovely word, ‘vocation,’ because vocation and occupation are so beautifully linked. Vocation, according to the dictionary, is a regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified. It is an inclination, as if in response to a summons, to undertake a certain kind of work, a calling.

An inclination, as if in response to a summons definitely sounds like a close encounter with the Muse to me. And it’s that close encounter that brings me to the final definition of occupy; to dwell or reside in, to hold or fill. The world I create, the characters I populate it with and the conflict I thrust upon those characters now all come rushing in en mass to fill up, to dwell in, to reside in my occupied mind, along with the Muse/Daemon/Self, who is at the controls. That, I would say, is a fully occupied mind, and every writer’s wet dream.

I could go on and on about the implications of occupation and vocation and daemons and the Self and Muses in the driver’s seat, but my mind is really occupied with a novella at the moment. So if you’ll excuse me, I really need to get back there so I won’t miss anything because the occupation is just now getting really good and really messy.






Sharazade Talks About Her Story, ‘Flaws,’ and the Train Journey that Inspired It

It’s my pleasure to welcome international woman of mystery and Queen of Travel Erotica,  Sharazade, to share with us the story behind her moving, sexy train story, Flaws.

It’s always fun to hear from readers which story in a collection was a favorite. You never get the same answers from everybody, of course, but if we go by the majority, the short story “Flaws” from Transported: Erotic Travel Tales is the most popular. It’s a story told in the first person, from the point of view of a young woman traveling across the US by train, who lacks confidence in her attractiveness because of what she views as her body’s “flaws”—the sorts of things that the reader can see a lover probably wouldn’t even notice, let alone care about, but that can drive the owner to distraction—a scar, unusually large nipples, a few hairs out of place, a belly that isn’t flat.

I’m often asked if any of those flaws are mine. Well—that you don’t get to know. But the real “flaw,” of being hyper-critical of myself, that is sometimes mine and it sometimes isn’t. Like the character in the story, I’m quite aware that confidence is sexy; but like that character, I know how hard it is sometimes to pull yourself up when you’re not feeling confident. It takes more to feel good about yourself than just giving yourself a stern talking to. I confess I get a little impatient sometimes with websites (and people) who say that you should never base your feelings of confidence or self-worth on someone else’s perception or evaluation, but only on your own. Of course there’s truth to that, but come on. What if you’re feeling very down about yourself? Or what if you’re feeling very confident, but … no one else seems to agree with you? Hey, it happens.

So in the story, I let the woman gain some confidence from the unexpected (well, to her, anyway!) advances of an attractive man. His obvious attraction to her and her body is the boost she needs to pull herself out of her low spot. Is she going to base her future sense of self-worth on a fleeting encounter with a guy (or… two guys…) on a train? Of course not. But she sure steps off that train feeling good; and then the cycle can work its way up, instead of down. When you feel good, you look good, and when you look good, you feel good, and so on. Enthusiastic appreciation and lust from a partner contribute to one’s self-image—a good reminder that we should express our own appreciation and lust for our partners in very obvious ways.

On a more personal note, I also like “Flaws” because a lot of the plot line is autobiographical—I have taken that train trip, and I was reading “To the Lighthouse,” and I did get a free sleeper car from the conductor for the second half of the trip. And the rest? Well, I’ll leave that to the readers’ imaginations.


His compartment is small, and I accidentally brush against him as I enter the room. (I was right, he is well-muscled.) The bed is actually a bunk, with a lower and upper berth. There’s a full-length mirror on one wall, and a little doorway on the other side that must go to the bathroom area. I notice he has two suitcases, which seems a bit extravagant. Perhaps one needs a wealth of material to describe the deeds of Herbert Hoover, or maybe he’s just a clothes horse. Some men are. Now that I’m in his room, I feel a bit awkward. How exactly am I going to take a shower? Surely he’d have to leave for a while? But he makes no move to go, and I feel to shy to ask him to. To cover my nervousness, I lean over the bottom bunk and look out the window. Of course, it’s dark, so I can’t see a thing, so now I must look like a complete idiot. Maybe he’ll think I can see the stars, or something.

Suddenly I feel his hand on me, on my side. Startled, I jump up and back into him, there being nowhere else in the little room to go, and now both of his arms are around me, turning me around. He looks at me without speaking, and brushes a lock of my hair out of my face with his hand. Oh. My. OK, I didn’t know this was on his mind, I didn’t suspect this at all. I’m so naïve. Or just dumb. I don’t know what to do. I make a sort of a half move to go, but his arms are firm and keep me there.

And then he kisses me. Oh god. It feels so, so good. I haven’t been kissed in so long. His kisses are gentle, but firm, and… confident. Unbelievably sexy. I give in and kiss him back. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe he’d want to kiss me, but he does. Our kisses grow more passionate, and now his hands are traveling around my body, caressing my back, squeezing my ass, pulling me to him. I think again that I have to get out of here before it goes any further… and then I think, well, why not stay? Why not? I’m young, I’m single, I’m on a train, I’m here with an absolute dream of a guy who wants me. Who cares if it’s only because he couldn’t find somebody better? He’s with me now, and it feels amazing. And with some new confidence that surprises me, I slip my hands under his shirt to feel his body.

He takes this as a sign to remove his shirt. I was right—he has an amazing body, smooth and strong. And now his hands are at my shirt too, lifting it over my head. Oh god. Oh no. I’ve just remembered. It’s not a flaw, exactly, because it’s something I can fix, but … I also have just a few hairs that grow on my nipples, at the edges of my areolas. They’re not normally a problem, I just pluck them out, but I haven’t checked in several days, and I don’t know if they’re there now or not. The light in the cabin is certainly strong enough that he’d see them if he looked down. What can I do? I consider breaking away and saying I need to go to the bathroom, and then I can check for hairs and try to pull them out with my fingers if I need to, but won’t it look weird to just leap out of his arms like that?

While I’m trying to decide whether I’d look worse if I bolted into the bathroom or if he noticed some nipple hairs, I’ve lost my chance—he’s got my shirt off and is unhooking my bra and it’s too late. Each hand is caressing a breast now. I don’t dare look down, and just close my eyes. His hands feel heavenly, touching me with firm, sensuous strokes, his fingers pinching my nipples. I feel a rush of warmth between my legs.

He bends down to kiss my breasts. At least I don’t need to worry about sagging nipples now, because they’re taut and erect, aching for his kisses and light bites. And then… he stands back up, just a little away from me. I open my eyes to see what he’s doing. He’s looking at me. He’s looking right at my chest, touching me while he examines me. He traces my scar with his forefinger. I look at his face, to see what he’s thinking, but I can’t really tell. He runs his finger back and forth over my scar, and then bends and kisses it.

Buy Links:

Amazon US print: http://www.amazon.com/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-Sharazade/dp/1603814655/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313764337&sr=8-1
Amazon US Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-ebook/dp/B003N2PZUW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1313764337&sr=8-1

Amazon UK print: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-Sharazade/dp/1603814655/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313764375&sr=8-1
Amazon UK Kindle:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-ebook/dp/B003N2PZUW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=A3TVV12T0I6NSM&qid=1313764375&sr=8-1

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/14974

Barnes & Noble print:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/transported-sharazade/1100074487?ean=9781603814652&itm=1&product.urlkeywords=transported%2fsharazade&usri=sharazade
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/transported-sharazade/1100074487?ean=2940011051951&itm=1&product.urlkeywords=transported%2fsharazade&usri=sharazade

Sharazade is professional writer, editor, and consultant with more than 20 books published under another name. She divides her time among Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the U.S. Not surprisingly, her stories tend to feature some aspect of travel–modes of transportation or exotic locales. She enjoys stories that are realistic enough that they might have happened and fanciful enough that they might not have. She values communication, adventure, exploration, passion, and love. Find her on her blog at http://www.sharazade.fannypress.com.

© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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