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Suzanne Portnoy Talks About the Re-Release of her Bestselling Memoir, The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker

KD: It’s my pleasure to have Suzanne Portnoy over today. Welcome Suzanne! It’s a pleasure to have you on A Hopeful Romantic talking about theSuzanne Noble Portnoybutcher baker bpb re-release of your best-selling erotic memoir, The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker. Could you tell us a bit about what led you to write TBBCM, and your experience of writing it?

SP: It was 2005 and I was sitting at my desk in the PR agency I managed. My boyfriend, an alcoholic, had passed away a year earlier. I was sleeping with a portfolio of about half a dozen men and was very involved in the swinging scene, having decided that I didn’t want a serious relationship of any kind. I remember thinking I’m 44 years old.  If I don’t write down how I came to be this person, I’ll forget it all and nobody will believe me. I started writing the idea down as a series of short stories but, eventually, under the guidance of Adam Nevill at Virgin Books, it became a memoir.

KD: I understand that after the Fifty Shades phenomenon, Random House decided it was time to re-release The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker. I have to ask, how would you compare your memoir to 50SoG, and how do you think readers of 50SoG, newbies to erotica, will respond to TBBCM? Isn’t it a bit like comparing apples and oranges?

SP: Well, 50 Shades is fiction and ‘Butcher, Baker’ is most definitely factual! My 19 year old son told me that I should go out and publicise ‘Butcher, Baker’ simply so people realise that there’s a world of difference between what goes on in real life and in the 50 Shades world of fantasy. Anyone who has been involved in BDSM, even on the fringes, will tell you that.

KD: Suzanne, tells us a little bit about yourself and about your career.

SP: I started out in film production and went into PR after the birth of my second son. I’ve been a publicist for over 20 years working with a variety of clients. I never had any dreams of becoming an author. I wrote ‘Butcher, Baker’ for myself as much as for others.

KD: Since The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker is a re-release, how has your life and your world view changed since it was released the first time?

SP: It’s funny you should ask that. When Random House told me they were republishing the book, I had mixed feelings. I was very proud of having written it and happy that it might find a new audience. But my life is very different now. I have had a lovely boyfriend for a couple of years now and we have a very ‘normal’ relationship.  When I look back on some of my sexual experiences, I can see that I was quite lucky that I escaped being raped or even dead on a number of occasions. That’s not to say that I didn’t have a lot of fun too. There are many scenarios that I’ll always remember as being some of the most amazing sexual experiences of my life and I met some fantastic people along the way, many of whom I still keep in touch.

KD: Since The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker is a memoir, was it difficult for you to expose your private life so publically? What was the most challenging part of such a public exposure of your private self? What was the inspiration for doing so?

SP: I was incredibly naïve when I wrote ‘Butcher, Baker.’ I didn’t think of the implications or how it might impact on my life. I remember Adam Nevill telling me that the likelihood of it being a bestseller was very rare; that hundreds of thousands of books are published every year and very few of them sell in big numbers. At the time we were negotiating my very small advance so I can see his rationale for being so negative but, even so, I didn’t think ahead! Like I said, I had a burning desire to tell my story and, being a publicist, a number of media contacts whom I hoped would support me by writing features about the book. I knew that I would do whatever I needed to do to make sure it was successful because that’s my nature.

When ‘Butcher, Baker’ went to number 20 on Amazon, I was delighted. I was still very much involved in the swinging lifestyle so I became a bit of a celebrity in that world. It was all a bit surreal. ITV wanted to do a one-hour documentary on me (that I turned down) and, for a while, I became the ‘go to’ girl for anyone seeking an opinion on sex. It was all great fun and I must admit I enjoyed the attention.

However, as I got older, I came to a point where I had had enough of swinging and, thankfully, that coincided with meeting my partner. Being Suzanne Portnoy was fun but it wasn’t someone I wanted to be forever.

KD: Do you think reader response and attitude toward the author is different with a memoir than it is with fiction? How?

SP: As an older woman, I know that my story resonates with many women who have had children and find themselves in an unhappy marriage. I’ve had many letters over the years from women and men who have been inspired by my story. People have written to me to tell me that they now have a more fulfilling sex life with their partner as a result of reading ‘Butcher, Baker.’ I know I have inspired other women to go out and try swinging. I’m sure that erotic fiction can inspire couples and singles to do the same but I think it’s easier for people to make that leap when they read about someone who has already done so.

KD: In your opinion how have times an attitudes toward sex changed most since The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker was released the first time, and how would you, as a publicist, expect that to change the way the book is received?

SP: As a publicist I can see that 50 Shades has made it much easier for the mainstream media and the public to talk about sex. Certainly more people are reading erotica than ever before. 50 Shades has given a tremendous boost to the genre and the adult industry in general. Whether that particular bubble has burst remains to be seen. I’m not expecting the same kind of reaction to ‘Butcher, Baker’ now as it had back in 2007. I think the market is almost saturated, though I haven’t seen a book similar to ‘Butcher, Baker’ in the charts. Random House have done a great job so far – the book has a fantastic new jacket and I’m confident they are doing all they need to do to make sure it sells.

KD: Why do you think the time is suddenly right for erotic literature and all of a sudden there is such a huge demand?

SP: Being cynical, I think every year there is one genre in publishing that sets the trend. It could be misery memoirs or gothic horror or erotica. I think what has been interesting about 50 Shades is to watch how it transitioned from being on a fan fiction site to an independent publisher and, eventually, being picked up by a major. The world of publishing is changing rapidly. Fifty Shades opened reader’s eyes to the genre and it’s up to the publishing industry to keep pushing out good books and marketing them properly to keep up the demand.

KD: Are there plans for another book? Memoir? Fiction? Other? What exactly does the future hold for Suzanne Portnoy?

SP: I always have my fingers in far too many pies but writing another memoir isn’t on the cards for now. I wrote a play called ‘Looser Women’ with playwright Tim Fountain that went to the Edinburgh Festival a couple of years ago and I still think about reworking it for a regional tour. I’m working on a tech idea that has been growing in my brain for a while (I’m a secret geek) and I want to see how far I can take it. I have a number of clients on the PR side that I juggle too and I’m renovating a flat from the ground up. Maybe when I have a chance to breathe I’ll feel the urge to write another book to complete the trilogy but not just yet.

*****

Find Suzanne Portnoy here:

www.suzanneportnoy.com

Buy The Butcher, the Baker, the candlestick Maker here:

Amazon.co.uk print: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Butcher-Baker-Candlestick-Maker/dp/0352347635/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1365258434&sr=8-2&keywords=suzanne+portnoy

Amazon UK eBook: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Butcher-Baker-Candlestick-Maker-ebook/dp/B00BFTT6S2/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1365258434&sr=8-2

Amazon.com eBook: http://www.amazon.com/Butcher-Baker-Candlestick-Maker-ebook/dp/B00BFTT6S2/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1365260345&sr=1-4

 

Inside the Creative Mind of Willsin Rowe

Lightning_320KD: It’s my pleasure to have cover designer and erotic author Willsin Rowe on my site today to talk about designing book covers.  Welcome, Willsin! I’m so excited to have you here on A Hopeful Romantic, especially since I know you are going to be shedding light on that greatest of all mysteries which plagues both writers and readers. THE BOOK COVER! Could you start by telling us a bit about the multi-talented Willsin Rowe and how you got into book cover design.

WR: I first took a stab at writing erotica in late 2005. I entered a contest from a small publisher called Aphrodite Unlaced, and was fortunate enough to win. That publisher folded in early 2008, but I well and truly had “the bug” by then! I managed to turn out a couple of stories that were picked up at Excessica, which was still a pretty new endeavour. At that time, Excessica ran as an “author collective”, meaning any extra skills authors could bring to the table were well appreciated. I’d been working in graphic design and page layout for about 20 years at that time, so I put my hand up to try cover art, and I seemed to have some measure of ability at it. (shown throughout this post are some of Willsin’s favourite covers that he has designed)

KD: A question I know readers and writers all want to know the answer to is who actually chooses the book cover designs? How much input does the writer get if any?

WR: I work both as a “solo artist” and also with a publisher, Novel Concept Publishing. I’ve also made covers for Red Phoenix and for Secret Cravings (in both cases it was for anthologies to which I was contributing a story). For the solo stuff, the author always has final approval since it’s their baby, and I’m in their employ for the duration of the work. I certainly make suggestions and point out difficulties where I see them, but in all cases the author gives the final approval. In the work I do with publishers, the author has a large measure of input, but the editorial team also guide the process (and do a dandy job of it, I must say!)

SoulstoneKD: How much do you have to know about a book before you design the cover? Do you actually read every book?

WR: Oh, no…I’m such a slow reader. I have never been able to allow myself to skip sections, or even to skim, so I read every word. For that reason I couldn’t afford the time to read every book I make a cover for. Essentially, I work from a book blurb if one is available. I do have a form that I send to clients, which covers both tangible and intangible elements. Character descriptions and time period, for instance, as well as mood and feel. From the information within, I often get a clear “story” for a cover. And sometimes authors have a strong and clear vision going into the project. It’s not always a workable vision, of course, because of the inherent limitations of stock imagery. We’ll find, say, the perfect model but not the right pose, or completely unsuitable clothing. Some elements can be worked around, such as hair colour, skin tone, eye colour. I’ve adjusted clothing at times, too. I once added a bra between a pair of naked breasts and the hands that were cupping them!

KD: Where do you get your inspiration for your fabulous cover designs?

WR: Mostly from the words; the descriptions which the authors provide. Words were my first love, after all! I think creatively in words and music far more than in pictures, and then kind of translate the words into imagery. I don’t actually consider myself particularly creative in a visual sense. I can draw very well in pencil on paper, but only if I’m reproducing an image I’m looking at. For example, here’s a drawing I created in 1986 of my favourite band, Big Country.

Willsin1

I was very strong in Technical Drawing at high school, and have a strong sense of what I call physical correctness. I strive to keep lighting and toning consistent when combining imagery. If the background scene is lit from the left, then any people or objects I cut out and place in there need to be lit from the left, too. I feel I do false shadows very well. And skin tones. I’ve received many compliments for my skin tones, such as on Selena Kitt’s “Taken” and on my own co-written title, “In The Dark”.

Willsin2Willsin3

 

KD: Do you have any contact with the writer during the design process?

WR: A lot of contact. Possibly to an annoying level for the writer! I’ll get them to check out models before I put virtual pen to paper, for example. And we discuss what kind of scenes might work. Covers aren’t always literal, of course. But when they are, they often need to encapsulate large chunks oftime into a single moment.

Odyssey For Passion_320

Traitor Small

KD: Could you talk us through the process? How long does it take from start to finish?

WR: Oh, there’s no one answer to that! My record was something like 9 months! That was at the author’s request, and I wasn’t working constantly on it all the time. There was an enormous gap between finalising the e-book cover and then adapting it to print. Other times, there have been long and complex stories which the author and I have managed to condense to a clear and simple cover in basically a single step. Sommer Marsden is a great one for that kind of cover. She likes them simple, and is far keener on overall feel than intricate details. Selena Kitt also champions feel over fact. That being said, it often happens that a cover which looks simple can have untold intricacies within it. A good example of this would be the Wanderlust cover I made for Sommer Marsden.

We start with the base image:

Willsin4

It’s a nice image, and a great starting point. The very light sepia tinge is nice, but it wasn’t strong enough to suit the story. So I squeezed in a hint of burnt orange.

Willsin5

I also added some darkness at the bottom of the image to accommodate the titles. But there’s a problem with this image…she has those pesky shoes in her hand. Thanks to the wonderful trickery of Photoshop and its handy cloning tool, hey presto and they’re gone!

Willsin6

So I’ve coloured the image, created some workable space for text, and stolen her shoes. The next step is to start introducing the titles.

Willsin7

We wanted to go for a font which reflected solidity and fragility at the same time. I loved this font instantly, because it has an inherent strength and crispness, much like Helvetica has. But it has all that subtle and wondrous distressing on it…as if it’s been weathered by time. I loved the visual metaphor of that, considering Really, the female lead in the story, comes from money but feels broken and lost. Sommer herself always – and I mean always – likes to keep her name small. She’s all about the story. So I made her name a little weathered, a little wraith-like…and, of course, little.

Willsin8

Then I added a graphic element to help indicate movement, travel, direction…all that stuff! I went for arrows to suggest compass points and motion, and I weathered them to keep with the theme.

Willsin9

Then there was the all-important tag line. Again, following the theme of weathered and wraith-like. Plus the break in the middle where I split the level just adds to the feel of displacement. But while the titles are nice and weathered, the image is still quite clean and crisp. Best we do something about that! And this is what we did…

willsin10

This image of old textured paper was the answer. I took that and overlaid it on the image, which resulted in this:

Willsin11

Finished, right? Well, almost… The only issue to address now is the fact that the young woman just doesn’t quite leap out at us the way she should. And we got around that by adding darkness to the trees. Like so:

willsin12

So there you have it! The story of a relatively simple cover. If memory serves, that took about three days from go to whoa. Of course, part of that was the fact that I’m in Australia and Sommer’s in the USA. Time zone issues obviously mean that there are plenty of waking hours for me that are sleeping hours for her…and vice versa. In total I think it was about four hours work.

Willsin13

KD: How has the fact that you are also a fiction writer affected your work asa cover designer? How has the fact you’re a cover designer affected your writing?

WR: Being a writer allows me to see “the other side”. I believe I tread quite gently with cover art, and that I listen quite well (for a man!) And it truly helps me to create visual metaphors, and to see a story in a static image. As for how designing affects writing? Well, one way is that being a cover artist means I have less time for writing. That’s not a major factor, though, since I don’t have an Evil Day Job any more. And the positive effect of cover creation is that it pokes parts of my brain which writing doesn’t, and it creates mental links which might otherwise not be there. Like the old “pat your head and rub your tummy” exercise. It makes my brain more flexible, and open to unusual ideas. (Plus I get to scan stock sites for hot chicks and call it “work”!)

KD: Tell us a little bit about Willsin Rowe, the writer. What are you working on now?

Submission Therapy_320WR: I’m in the early stages of breaking in a new pen name for some stories which just don’t suit Willsin Rowe. I’ve been co-writing with a friend in the US, Katie Salidas, for nigh on a year. We have a three-part series called “Consummate Therapy”, which has taken the idea of Billionaire BDSM and given it a small but interesting twist – we have a female billionaire who needs to learn the art of submission! (By the way, book one in the series, “Submission Therapy” is FREE!)

We also have a series of ménage stories we’re currently working on. Katie also writes a lot of vampire fiction, both erotic and urban fantasy and she’s inspired me to take the plunge in that field as well. So I’m also putting the finishing touches to my first ever vampire erotica. Well, it’s more an erotic romance, truly.

KD: And what is Willsin Rowe, the cover designer working on now?

WR: Oh, I generally have anything from 4-10 covers going at any one time. I recently finished a set of nine Selena Kitt covers, for her upcoming Modern Wicked Fairy Tales. I’ve also done a stack of covers for Jason Halstead, whose work rolls easily between sci-fi, fantasy, thriller and adventure. Jason’s the best kind of problem client, too…he packs an enormous amount of action into each story, so it becomes quite difficult to narrow down exactly what we’ll put on his cover! That’s a nice problem for a cover designer. And currently I’m putting all the little finishing touches on a cover for a relatively new Aussie author, Lotta Bangs. She’s written so many stories, though, that she actually has two artists creating covers for her! While her covers often look reasonably simple, they actually push me pretty hard.

Lost Girls Half Size NewerKD: What’s the best part about being a cover designer? The worst?

WR: It’s a bit soppy, I suppose, but the best part is the networking. I’ve met so many folk through cover art and I strongly doubt I’d have met most of them otherwise. It’s made me some friends, given me contacts and allowed me to expand my global empire! The worst part…well, it’s something that happens only on odd occasions. It’s when a cover just refuses to come together. Sometimes I come up with a concept that I’m sure will work, but I just can’t find imagery to suit it. Other times, it’s almost the opposite: I’ll have the right woman, the right man, the right background…and they just don’t fit together. Making a cover that ends up completely wrong actually takes just as much time as getting it right!

KD: What does Willsin Rowe do for entertainment when not designing covers or writing hot fiction?

WR: My main entertainment pursuit is actually the third string to my bow. I play bass in a swampy blues/rock/folk/country band called The Medicine Show. I use another alias for that project, though: Burnin’ Log Dawkins. I also design most of our posters and CD artwork, and I created a few music videos for us as well. We had a couple of songs on iTunes in 2011-12, but circumstances with our distributor changed and we felt the need to step back from all of that. We’re in the process of building ourselves up in a new direction, including a travelling show that harks back to the old days of Vaudeville.

KD: What are some of your favourite covers you’ve created?

WR: There are so many! I’m closing in on 250 covers created. But for various reasons (sometimes simplicity, sometimes complexity, sometimes just the “secret cover artists’ business” that makes intricacy look simple), these are an assortment of my favourites. (also see above)

Dark Earth SmallDevil's Icebox_480

About Willsin Rowe

Willsin Rowe falls in love with a scent, a playful expression or an act of casual intimacy more easily than with physical beauty. When confronted by any combination of those elements he is a lost cause. He has done many things over and over, done even more things only once, and half-done more things than he cares to admit. He loves to sing and doesn’t let his voice get in the way. He is intelligent but not sensible. He is passionate but fearful. He is not scruffy enough or stylish enough to be cool.

Blog: http://willsinrowe.blogspot.com.au/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/willsin.rowe

 

 

 

Dr. Susana Mayer Talks about SenSexual: A Unique Anthology

Susana Mayer anthology pictureIt’s my pleasure to have Dr. Susana Mayer as my guest today. Susana Mayer, Ph.D is a sexuality consultant/educator, creator/host of the Erotic Literary Salon, and founder of the SenSexual Press. In addition to editing “SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013” she is presently working on her series, “The Ageless Sex Life™.” Dr. Mayer has a MPH and Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, is a board certified sexologist, a member of the American Academy of SexologistsAmerican Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS).

KD:  Welcome back to A Hopeful Romantic, Dr. Mayer. It’s a pleasure to have you here and with such exciting news. Could you tell my readers a little about SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013. What makes it so special.

SM: The anthology follows the blueprint of the Salon, all writings are of a sensual or sexual nature, and both fiction and non-fiction are represented. There is a treasury of short stories, anecdotes, essays, poems, diaries, memoirs, letters, emails and sextings, along with a generous selection of styles, settings, characters and intensity, plus backstories to accompany each piece.

KD: I understand that the anthologies – there are two volumes, am I correct– are dedicated to Dr. Frances Seidman, who is a psychologist and was the head of a distinguished family and marriage clinic for over 30 years. Dr. Seidman first started writing erotica at 91, specifically for the Erotic Literary Salon founded in 2008, which is totally astounding! How did you come to know Dr. Seidman?

SM: The story is long, probably another books worth. The short story – my mother introduced us in the late 1990’s and soon after my mom died unexpectedly and Frances’ husband, of 64 years, died after suffering with cancer for several years. We connected via email when she missed my mother during their winter months together, snowbirding in Florida. We have been together for the past 10 years, except in the winter, when she continues to travel south for warmth.

KD: Could you tell us a little bit about Dr. Seidman’s wonderful reading of Go the Fok to Sleep (Here is the Youtube link) It must have been amazing to have seen her read it live at the Erotic Literary Salon.

SM: In the summer of 2011 I had shared Adam Mansbach’s book with her. She immediately said she wanted to read it at the Salon. The audience loved her reading and I contacted the author for permission to tape. He gave it most gladly and apologized for not attending, since he had since moved from Philadelphia to California. When she return in 2012, we taped the reading and once again the attendees responded with great laughter.

KD: Dare I ask, what’s your favourite part of the anthology?

SM: No favorite part, just the fact that my dream of creating one when I first started the Salon actually came to fruition. It is such an unusual anthology so I wasn’t certain how people would respond. So far all the reviews have been stellar.

KD: I’m once again seeing this wonderfully delicious term, which you coined, SenSexual – such a celebratory term for embracing of our sexuality. Could you explain the term to our readers and tell us how it came about.

SM: I was tired of the pornography/erotica debate. As I stated in the book, “Why “sensexual”? It’s a sensual, sexy new term that bypasses all the old judgments around divisive labels like “erotica” and “pornography.” Pornography usually conjures up negative judgments, while erotica, a more toned-down term, is most often equated with sexual material for women. The subjective line between erotica and pornography is personal, temporal and culturally prescribed, and “sensexual” breaks down this boundary.”

KD: The lovely press release you sent me about the SenSensual anthologies had this to say about Dr. Seidman’s association with The Erotic Literary Salon. Individuals attending the Salon have said her mere presence gave them permission to feel comfortable with erotica. Her writings will most likely do the same for people who have shame or guilt regarding verbal turn-ons. That’s a major part of The Erotic Literary Salon, and clearly Dr. Seidman’s and your mission, isn’t it? Could you talk a little bit about how that’s being achieved at ELS, and with the anthologies.

SM: The Salon means so many things to so many people. The writers/readers that present at the Salon often share their most intimate journals and sex memoirs. A few work out their traumatic sexual experiences, others share their glowing memories. Then there are the fiction writers who are honing their skills and hoping for publication. The attendees who come to enjoy and applaud play a huge role in supporting the readers. We even have a ritual where all ‘virgin’ readers get a round of applause even before they speak, just to lesson their nerves a bit.

The mere presence of the Salon gives people the opportunity to share and I often have people tell me how grateful they are for this comfortable, safe space. One many even called me “courageous.” Until the original cover of my book was recently blocked by Amazon and prweb I foolishly didn’t realize censorship still exists.

Dr. Seidman’s reason for reading is more of a personal challenge. Initially she just wanted to share one story to say that she did it, could do it, and to support me. Now she challenges herself to write, since she never considered herself a writer and certainly not of erotica. At 96 she is still working on the next story, a recent date with a man in his mid-60’s. She wants to have something to read when she returns in May, and the attendees are already asking when she will be back up north. They love her honesty and hope she represents, hope of possibility, that 96 might be chronologically old but does not have to be spiritually old. The anthology ends with her words regarding the question often asked of her, ” What is My (her) Secret.?”

KD: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, Dr. Mayer, and how the Erotic Literary Salon came to be. Those of us outside Philadelphia are very jealous.

SM: I came to my title late in life. In 2009 I received my Ph.D., reinventing myself as a sexologist; retirement is just not a part of my vocabulary. The Salon was an outgrowth of my studies, looking for various catalysts that women could use to spark their libidos.

KD: The Erotic Literary Salon has recently established the SenSexual Press. Could you tell us a little bit about it and about its plans and goals?

SM: The Sensexual Press was founded specifically to publish the anthology. But then I realized there are a lot of gifted writers that don’t fall Susana Mayer image psyche eroshighres_6293902into the typical erotica categories and they also need a vehicle for their voice. Hopefully within the next few years you will be able to read some of the words of these atypical writers.

KD: As I looked down through the list of contributors and excerpts from the SenSexual Anthology, I couldn’t help noticing how diverse the list is and that there are works by writers from all over. Is there any way writers who don’t live in Philadelphia participate in the Erotic Literary Salon?

SM: Philadelphia is a gem of a city and the Salon is a wonderful excuse to visit. But if that is not a possibility, at this time I’m working on ways to share the Salon internationally. Keep reading my (almost) daily blog or subscribe to my bi-monthly newsletter for up to date information on my progress. If this copy of “SenSexual” sells well I will put out another call for submissions, which will also be mentioned in blog and newsletter. You can also send me your piece to have read at the Salon. Must be less than 5 minutes in length. What is unique about the Salon – I censor nothing.

KD: Thank you, Dr. Mayer, for stopping by. It’s good to have you back.

*****

SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013 is a treasury of steamy, provocative, authentic works, bound to challenge stereotypes and expand the readers’ literary and erotic horizons. Susana Mayer, Ph.D., delivers for the first time in print, the same mix of soul-stirring, edgy, brazen writings, along with the authors’ illuminating backstories and her occasional revealing commentaries that have lead to raucous laughter, unabashed tears and occasional squirming at her long running Erotic Literary Salon in Philadelphia. http://www.theEroticliterarysalon.com

Fifty authors have contributed tender memories of love, spirited sex and spicy communications to this exceptional two-volume anthology, transporting the reader through heart-pounding, seductive, occasionally kinky works to celebrate the diversity of sexual fascinations and desires. The generous selection of styles, settings, characters and intensity can act as a catalyst for couples to share their erotic fantasies and explore their sexual expressions. Individuals will also have the opportunity to discover what turns them on verbally.

SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013 takes people beyond Fifty Shades of Grey. Dr. Susana Mayer, sexologist (The Ageless Sex Life™), founder and host of the Erotic Literary Salon, and editor of this text, recommends both men and women share this book with their intimate partner, friends and book club members. It will spark a conversation or discussion that will range from entertaining to life-changing.

SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013 Kindle ebook available now on Amazon.com

 SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013 Kindle ebook available now on  Amazon.co.uk

Free Kindle app for all electronic devices, available on Amazon

You can follow more of Dr, Mayer’s work and passions on Facebook, Twitter, and on her websites:

www.theEroticliterarysalon.com

www.SusanaMayer.com 

www.SenSexualPress.com

*****

Excerpts:

 Gwen Masters: White

… the rush matched the way he made her feel when he did that one little thing he liked to do between her legs, that one sweet motion that sent her to the moon and back….

 

Rachel Fogletto: Distracted

You are inappropriate

I’m at my job and I’m trying to focus on completing paperwork

And the thought of fucking you is more distracting than my hangover, my…

 

Sharazade: Next

…He smiled at her, and she smiled back weakly. “I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I think I’m finished.”

His smile took on a wicked edge. “Finished? Oh, hardly….”

 

I.G. Frederick: Leather Love

The sound of leather slapping against

flesh is an aphrodisiac that

makes me wet in anticipation…

 

Riccardo Berra: It’s So Much Easier When You’re Away

…She pushes me down and straddles me. Her hand flutters between my legs. Touching me everywhere. Like a solitary traveler asleep on a long journey, I awaken to discover that I’ve reached my destination with no memory that time has passed….

 

M/ Lilii – Black Dahlia Creative: (267) XXX-XXXX- mobile

She: How are you today? 2:58 PM

He: Only laying around thinking of ways to make u moan the loudest 3:02 PM

 

Liz Adams: The Artist

She pinched her nipples and bolts of electricity shot straight between her thighs. She placed a hand there and felt herself dripping, eager to be filled….

 

 

 

 

 

Someone Once Told Me: Mario Cacciottolo Wants to Know

One of the highlights of Eroticon 2013 was meeting Mario Cacciottolo and learning all about his amazing Someone Once Told Me project. Within minutes of meeting him, I was completely intrigued. Mario’s work is fun, quirky, moving, sometimes chilling, and I’m very excited that he consented to be interviewed for a Hopeful Romantic. Welcome Mario!

KD: First of all, welcome to a Hopeful Romantic, Mario! It’s a pleasure to have you here. Could you start off by telling my readers a little about the Someone Once Told Me project and what inspired it?

MC: I’m very interested in storytelling – always have been. About six years ago I picked up a camera and decided I wanted to get into portrait MarioTaofeeq Adeyemi This Onephotography in particular. Then, one day, I had a thought – how about I use one to do the other? As in, use my camera as a way of getting people’s story out of them, in a very specific way?

Someone Once Told Me (SOTM) sees me ask people to hold up a sketchbook on which they’ve written something memorable that someone once told them. It can be anything, so long as it came from someone else.

I take a picture of them doing so and there’s a new image that goes up on my website every day, with all the previous ones available in a gallery. The subject also explains the story behind why that phrase was said, who said it to them and what their reaction was to hearing those words. The story is written alongside their image – I often use audio to capture people’s stories also.

I’ve had a new image up every day since 8 Sept 2007 and from early June will be travelling for a year around the world, taking many such images, using social media to help me drum up new subjects.

I’m looking for all sorts of people to photograph, all around the world, from different backgrounds and nationalities. The one thing I’ll be asking them is – what’s the most memorable thing you’ve ever been told?

KD: As a writer, I’m always trying to convey an image with my words so that people ‘get the picture.’ Do you find that as a photographer who works with images, is the opposite true? Are you always trying to convey a story?

MC: It’s best if you can do that, for sure. I believe that the most powerful form of photography is one that has a narrative attached, even one that’s implied – if you see an image and your brain starts fizzing, wondering what’s going on with those you can see frozen in time, then that is the best use of photography. I am being quite blunt in getting people to write down a phrase in my photos, leaving only a certain amount to the imagination, but there is room for the viewer to wonder just what it’s all about, before they can read the blurb beneath and find out the story around that person’s choice of quote.

SOTM is quite simple, but it’s powerful and interesting, and the best ideas are the simple ones.

KD: Mario, you do a new picture and a new story every day for your website. How hard is it to keep that up? What do you find the most MarioRachel Wood This Onechallenging?

MC: Well, I’ve had to be quite obsessive about it. I’ve never missed having a new photo up every day for what will be six years in September – so that’s more than 2,000 consecutive days now.

I upload seven images every Friday, and they go live automatically each morning in the UK. I just ask, ask, ask people to pose, all the time. I’ve had a few hundred SOTMs sent in to me, which can be done through the site, and I am just always on the lookout. I went to a party the other day, and while everyone else was enjoying a drink and some banter, I never stopped the whole time – asking people, taking photos, looking for new locations in a small flat, recording their stories, talking to the subjects afterwards. By the time I finished, it was time to go home. I’ve done that on more occasions than I can remember.

I’ve taken 5 hour train journeys to visit students on freezing piers, travelled to businesses and charities to photograph their staff on my days off, hung around in the rain at tube stations to get individual shots, and asked all my friends and their friends to take part. I’ve just never stopped asking. When I split with one of my ex-girlfriends, saying I didn’t have much spare time, she said: “It’s nice to know I’m not as important as a website.”

KD: What do you find most rewarding about the Someone Once Told Me project?

MC: Getting personal stories from people when I don’t know them at all. Sometimes I get them very quickly, too. That’s a huge compliment to SOTM and I’m so thrilled that many people like my little idea so much that that they reveal something personal, sometimes painful, about themselves – to someone they don’t know at all.

I’ve had sons tell me what their father said upon their deathbed, and what ex-husbands have told their (tearful) wives. I’ve had a young woman say how much it hurts when their sister calls them fat, and a man from Tasmania talk about what happened during a threesome he was having once.

I also had a student reveal that he was once beaten up by a group of men who then told him: “Oh my God, we got the wrong guy” before giving him a lift home as an apology. He told me that story within 30 seconds of us meeting for the first time – his astonished friends had no idea this had ever happened.

KD: I’m dying to hear all about your upcoming world tour! 23 countries and 1,000 people! And I hear that people everywhere can get involved. Tell us all about it!

MC: I’ve always wanted to travel the world. Even as a boy, growing up on the tiny island of Malta, I used to spread maps on the wall and look at them, wondering what they were like in real life. Years later, when I was fully into the SOTM idea, I knew I couldn’t just end it one day, quietly. While lots of people have submitted photographs to me, I wanted to reach out to them by visiting as many countries as I could, approaching all sorts of people, getting them to tell a story from their lives. So now that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

MarioNick Astaire This OneI’m travelling through Europe, over to Cairo, then South Africa, Dubai, Japan, China and will spend a few months in South Asia, hitting countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Bangladesh. Then I’ll go to the Philippines and Australia, before flying up to the US and doing a tour there for a couple of months. I’ll return to the UK in May 2014.

I’m looking for as many people as possible to take part in the SOTM world tour. I need people to meet and photograph, places to stay for a few days, people with media connections so I can drum up publicity, volunteers to help translate a sheet of paper that I’ll carry around, explaining just what it is I’m doing.

The initial announcement can be found here SOTM Tour I’ve since tweaked the itinerary, so the more recent updates on my blog, which runs alongside SOTM, will have the latest destinations.

And of course, if you’re not going to be near my travels but want to take part in SOTM, either as a subject or a photographer, you can easily submit a photo through the Your SOTM page on the site. It always buzzes me out for the day whenever someone sends a photo in to me, and shares a story of theirs.

KD: Can you tell us about the Sketchpad sponsorships?

MC: I have used many sketchbooks since SOTM began, turning more than 1,500 pages myself as I’ve taken photographs for the site. I’m now aiming to take 1,000 people’s images, which will mean at least that same number of sketchbook pages will feature on the site in future.

I’m offering people the opportunity to sponsor the sketchbooks that I’ll use. People can do individual months, or blocks of months. I’ve never put my sketchbooks up for sponsorship before, so it’s an exciting opportunity for all concerned.

KD: Can you tell us about the SOTM app from which, I believe all profits from the downloads go to the Operation Smile charity.

MC: I paid for the app myself and decided to give all the profits from it to Operation Smile, which operates on children with cleft palates. I think they do great work and if you point a camera at someone, you often tell them to smile. It must be terrible not to be able to smile properly.

The app, which is for the iPhone, allows the user to take a photo and place a digital scrap of paper over that image. You can then type out the subject’s SOTM message and story then email the whole thing to me, all from your phone. And you’ll do your bit for charity by downloading the app, too.

KD: What was the most shocking thing anyone ever wrote on your sketchpad?

MC: I’ve had one girl admit she was subject to an attempted rape by someone in charge of her school overseas trip, whom she then had to sit next to on the flight home.

I checked that she was ok for me to use the story and image – neither of which identify her – and the image went up.

Another, very powerful shot, tells the story of how a man broke up with a young woman, using words I’ve heard myself, as a lot of people have, I think. It’s quite a raw, emotive image and I can’t look at it for too long.

The saddest story is from a young woman who I met through Twitter and had a coffee with in Camden, London one day. We took her photo MarioEmilie Stammers This Onenext to the freezing lock and I thought nothing more of it. A few weeks later her friend emailed me to say she’d killed herself. I checked with her father about using her image, and it went up on the site, as did his email reply to me. Very, very tragic.

KD: Mario, you have a way of setting people at ease and making them feel like they’ve always known you. Have any of your impromptu conversations and photo sessions led to lasting friendships?

MC: That’s very kind of you! I was lucky enough to be raised in Malta, which is a very warm, friendly place and that’s never left me. Also, I love what I do and I love getting stories from people – that, above all, drives SOTM for me. So when I get to talk to people I want to – have to – win them over so that they will feel comfortable sharing something personal with me. I want them to feel like they can trust me with their story, and that I’ll take good care of it. People often say “oh, my story isn’t very good” but quite often it is really interesting. People just worry about coming up with something seriously profound, or hysterically funny, but so long as they’re honest, that’s what’s most important.

I have made friends, good friends and even got lucky once or twice over the years that I’ve done SOTM, so it’s been a wonderful, life-enriching experience for me. And now I’m going to take it around the world.

KD: We are all shaped by the things that someone once told us. The words we hear impact on us, whether we want them to or not, and it’s undeniable that they have a power.

Mario, this is from your website, and as a lover of words, I was very much struck by it. Words do definitely have power, so I have to ask you, what did someone once tell you that you would write on your sketch pad if I were taking a photo, and what’s the story behind it?

MC: I don’t know when SOTM will end, but if/when it does, the last ever image will be mine.

Until that time, I’m compiling a shortlist – I do have a current number one quote, but I’m keeping that a secret. Whatever I finally choose as my own SOTM, I’ll have it tattooed on me.

I can tell you that a Lebanese man I once interviewed for work – I’m a journalist – told me: “I used to sniff cocaine with Osama bin Laden in a nightclub toilet in London.”

Also, I once asked a female colleague how she was, and she replied: “I’ve left my husband and I’ve got a stalker.”

And a woman I spoke to said she once had a job cold-calling people. She asked if she could speak to a particular woman but her husband replied: “No you bloody well can’t. She’s run off with a black man.”

KD: Thanks so much for stopping by, Mario! It’s been a real pleasure chatting with you. Best of luck on your world tour! I can’t wait to see the piccies!

 

Lexie Bay and Doug, Passionate Partners on the Wild Side

passionatepartners

What better time for a Passionate Partners interview than on Valentine’s Day? The first time I heard the very talented Lexie Bay read at Sh!, the whole audience was enthralled. But there was one man sitting in the crowd who looked like his smile was about to burst his face. He had proud partner written all over him. That was Lexie’s lovely Other Half, Doug. Since then I’ve had many opportunities to enjoy the company of these Passionate Partners and the love and adoration between the two is vibrant. It was a no-brainer asking them to be my guests on Passionate Partners, so happy Valentine’s Day, and welcome, Lexie Bay and Doug, Sparky Cab, Bay!

LExie and Doug PPand LexieLexie’s Bio: Lexie started writing to immerse herself in a fantasy world where women are adored and men fall at their feet.  Then she realised that sometimes men do that so you can stomp all over them in your sexy stiletto boots and since then she’s been creating stories that stay true to her original romantic dream while exploring the erotic, the kinky and the downright filthy.  She finally found the courage to unleash them onto the world and now writes about anything that emerges from the murky depths of her imagination, anytime she can.

In typical romantic author style she lives with her husband and two daughters in a house by the sea on the south coast of England, but then spoils the image by working in the accounts office of an insurance company by day.  She loves chocolate, theme parks, cosy winter Sundays and the smell of fresh sweat on a hot guy. Her dream is to write full time and she could die happy if people fell in love with her work as much as she falls in love with her characters.

Doug’s Bio: Doug has spent a lot of time getting tattoos, riding bikes – including a gorgeous Harley Davidson Road King – driving too fast and generally being a bit of a wild child in his younger days. Then he met Lexie and nothing changed! Nowadays he works as a cab driver and helps look after their two girls. He can cook, clean, fix stuff and is a genius painter and decorator with a hint of Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen when it comes to interior design. But he still collects tattoos and loves the naughty side of life that comes with being married to an erotica writer. He also likes to take the stress out of his life on his balls; golf balls that is!

LExie and doug PPme and doug elfKD:  Lexie and Doug, one of the things that struck me about the two of you when I first met you was how proud Doug was of your writing, Lexie, and how he always seemed to be promoting you. That convinced me right on the spot that I was witnessing another one of those passionate partnerships in the promoting and celebration of sexuality through erotica. How did that journey begin, and has it always been a team effort?

Lexie: Funnily enough it was Doug that first persuaded me to send in one of my stories. I’ve been writing for years to entertain myself and as a way to indulge my creative side in amongst the sensible side of my life. We’ve always been interested in experimenting, reading and watching erotic things together and he asked why I didn’t write some stories myself. Doug has always been my biggest fan and supporter and he gives me the confidence to keep going even when I think I’ll never get any further with it!

Doug: I had never read any of Lexie’s stories until we discussed sending them off to be published but I knew that she enjoyed writing and I knew that she had a very filthy imagination! I always knew that she would be successful, and I do anything I can to help her fulfil her dream.

KD: Lexie, what does Doug do to help your writing career that you appreciate more than anything else?

Lexie: Doug’s biggest contribution is the fact that he works nights a lot which gives me the space and peace to write. I work all day and then I don’t get into trouble for working all night as he is out in the taxi. Doug is also amazing at doing things around the house, like cooking, tidying, hoovering and sorting out the kids, which leaves me more time to think about story lines and write. He also tells me all the time to quit my job and write full time but so far I think I would feel too guilty to actually do it and let him do all the hard work while I indulge myself in my writing.

KD: Doug, what, so far (knowing that there are lots more such moments ahead) has been the moment in Lexie’s writing career when you’ve been the most proud of her?

Doug: I get the biggest rush when I see her stories in paperback. I remember when the author copies of Immoral Views were delivered and how excited she was to see her story in an actual book for the first time. Another big moment was when she got short listed for the Black Lace/You Magazine competition. She was so excited and I was so proud of her. It’s always fun when people ask her to sign copies of her books too, and I love watching her read when we go to Sh!

KD: What has been the craziest experience you’ve shared in your mutual journey through erotica?

Lexie and Doug PPgaga and slashLexie: We’ve had some amazing experiences since I started writing erotica. We’ve met some incredible people, been to some fantastic places and that doesn’t show any sign of letting up. One of my favourite nights was the Sh! party at the Café de Paris, and we both love going to the party nights at the Sh! shop. Not much can top watching Renee giving a demonstration of how to spank/whip correctly while drinking pink fizz and eating cupcakes. I love the things my writing allows us to do.

Doug: One of my favourite moments was chatting to Tempest Rose and the other girls from the House of Burlesque at the theatre in Eastbourne after their show. There were queues of guys waiting to speak to them and Tempest recognised us and came over to chat. How jealous was everyone?!

KD: Doug, once Lexie begins a new story, how involved are you in the process? What do you consider your most important role when she’s with the Muse?

Doug: I don’t really get involved, but I guess my role when she’s creating is to keep out of the way! Sometimes she will ask me if I think a scene will work and we do talk about how the characters might react to different things, but my role is to keep things going behind the scenes, especially if she has a deadline looming.

KD: What’s the hardest part of the Lexie/Doug working partnership?

Lexie: I think the hardest part is that when I’m immersed in a story I can be a bit single minded and when I don’t get time to write I can be really grumpy. I get so involved in my characters that they become my life and if Doug isn’t as romantic as my leading man he can find himself in the dog house without knowing why!

Doug: I find it hard when Lexie is immersed in a story because she ignores me. It’s almost like being married to two women.

KD: What’s the best part?

Lexie and doug PPWedding 3Lexie: The best part is that when I’m thinking about sex all the time, it does wonders for our sex life. I wouldn’t say that I try out scenes on him but it does often give me ideas for things we could get up to! Also, when I write I’m happy and when I’m happy (like Bagpuss) everyone else is happy. There is nothing like the rush of having a story accepted and Doug is always there to celebrate with me.

Doug: The best part is seeing how happy Lexie is when she gets a story accepted, as well as getting to meet all the other people involved in the industry and going to all the amazing parties.

KD: What’s the best advice the two of you can offer to make that strange and wonderful relationship between erotica writers and their partners run smoother?

L&D: Make sure you support each other and remember that the stories aren’t real but the fantasies can be!

KD: That’s fabulous advice! Tell us something about the Lexie and Doug Team that might really surprise us.

Lexie: We’re really very normal and to look at us you wouldn’t dream of what we get up to some weekends when we hotfoot it up to London to play “erotica writer” with our naughty friends. We work hard, we’re raising two young girls with all the dramas that that brings and we spend a lot of time making each other laugh. I suppose one of the big things in our relationship is the ability to laugh at all the crap life throws at you. We’ve been through some major dramas in the ten years we’ve been together but we’ve managed to get through it all with a lot of love and a lot of laughs.

KD: Lexie, what’s the Muse had you up to lately, and what yumminess should we be keeping an eye out for from Lexie Bay?

Lexie: I’ve got a story coming out that I’m really proud of. I feel as though this year my writing is starting to really gel and I’m starting to find my writing style. I love this one so much. It’s called “Decadent Velvet” and I wrote it for the “Smut for Chocoholics” anthology that Sexy Reads has got coming soon.

LExie and Doug PP7DS_LexieBay(1)As well as that I’ve got three novellas that I am trying to finish and hopefully submit somewhere. The first is the back story to the short that got me shortlisted for the Black Lace competition at the start of the year. I enjoyed writing that one so much that I just had to put all the background into it. It’s about an ambitious young woman who falls for a guy who turns out not only to be her new boss but who also has a lot more issues than she bargained for and a much more exciting side than she could ever have imagined. This is my first attempt at a bit of BDSM so I’m a bit nervous about doing it justice.

The second is about two brothers and the girl that they both love. It’s a bit darker than I would normally write and it’s a very intense story. I’ve been batting ideas around for this one since I started writing erotica and I’ve decided that this year I’m actually going to finish it and hopefully get it out for people to read.

The last one is a supernatural story about a Succubus and her messed up family. It’s also a bit dark but it’s full of lighter moments and it was inspired by a really funny guy I was friends with a year or so ago. His take on life made me giggle and I wanted to write something that would capture his humour.

On top of all of that I’m busy promoting my latest story “An Indolent Seduction” which is the story of Sloth from “Seven Deadly Sins” published by Sweetmeats Press. It’s out in e-book and paperback and you can get it from:

Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Seven-Deadly-Sins-K-Grace/dp/1909181080/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1360538323&sr=8-3

WH Smiths http://www.whsmith.co.uk/EProducts/Seven-Deadly-Sins+eBook+KB00106214637

Waterstones http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/lexie+bay/k-+d-+grace/rebecca+bond/kojo+black/john+lachatte/seven+deadly+sins/9514507/

LExie and Doug PPSeven Deadly Sins LargeBlurb: When the demon of Sloth sets his sights on the angel Industria, apathy becomes dangerously alluring.

Excerpt from An Indolent Seduction by Lexie Bay:

Cordy’s mobile rang and he picked it up frowning. What the hell did Hugo want? He put his hand on the girl in his lap’s head, halting her vigorous blow job for a moment as he answered the phone.

“What is it Hugo, I’m taking some time out of my busy schedule?” Cordy snapped

“Right, yah, sorry boss, still learning the ropes. I think this is pretty important though.”

Cordy tapped the girl on the head, indicating that she should carry on her task. She smiled up at him, languidly running her tongue over her lips before she slid his cock back into her mouth. He stifled a groan as Hugo carried on.

“They did fucking what?!”

He pushed the blonde out of his lap and jumped up, tucking himself back into his trousers. Storming over to his laptop he clicked onto his website. Hugo wasn’t lying; there it was in black and white. “Website removed”

Cordy knew exactly who was behind this. He’d put up with a lot from her but this was the final straw. He ran his fingers through his hair, pacing the floor of his office as his mind worked overtime. Then a slow smile spread across his face and heaven felt a cold wind, spreading a chill across all the virtues.

“Get it up and running again, I don’t care who you need to involve. I want it accessible again by the end of the day if not sooner,” he barked into his phone, not even listening to Hugo as he answered him. He snapped his phone shut and turned to the pretty blonde, wondering how quickly he could get rid of her. He needed to plan his revenge and she was a distraction he didn’t need. Unfortunately she looked like she’d had way too much of whatever it was she’d brought with her, mixed with too many glasses of champagne. She was smiling at him and he was fairly certain he wasn’t going to get away with telling her to go.

*****

Lexie is published by House of Erotica and Sweetmeats Press and you can find out more about her at:

http://www.lexiebay.co.uk

http://www.twitter.com/Lexie_Bay

http://www.facebook.com/LexieBayAuthor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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