I’ve been waiting anxiously for Smut by the Sea to happen ever since I first heard the idea mentioned by the fabulous Team Blisse. Victoria and Kevin Mitnik Blisse are always planning and scheming something amazing which is always designed as a win-win experience for all the writers and venders who participate. I love that about them, and I love being involved in Blisse events, not only for that reason, but because they’re so much fun. And Smut by the Sea was no exception! To Date Smut by the Sea was the biggest event the Blisses have hosted, but knowing Victoria and Kev, today Scarborough, tomorrow the world! And I’ll be the first in line to buy my ticket. Thanks you two! You are the best!
In spite of the tombola, the book stand, the wonderful presence of Crowned Jewels, and FUJ’s fudge that was to die for, the very best part of SBTS, at least for me, was that it was so totally and completely a celebration of erotica. It was a writer-centric celebration of sex on the printed (and eBook) page, complete with the rowdy, costumed launch of Slave Nano’s novel, Adventures in Fetishland. It didn’t feel like a workshop, because it wasn’t. There was only one panel, and that was a how to get published panel, without which no gathering of writers would be complete. It was a panel that resulted in some wonderful discussion from the audience. What I liked best was that to me, the whole event felt like we were the modern version of the primal gathering around the campfire in front of the clan cave to hear and share the clan stories. If your curious about who all was seated around that SBTS ‘campfire’ check out the list of fab story tellers here.
I was elated that so much of the day was centred around reading – not just because I love to read my work, but because I love to hear the stories that other writers are reading. I’ve loved to be read to since I was a child on my mother’s knee. And I especially love to listen to first-time readers. I love to share their excitement, and I love to be one of the old timers who can encourage them and tell them not to worry it’ll be amazing. I love the looks on their faces when they’ve finished their first ever reading for an audience, the look that always tells me they’re hooked, just like I was, just like every one of us who has stood on that stage is.
For a writer, sharing a story is like breathing. We can’t NOT do it. That’s why we write. And to be able to read it out loud to an audience that’s there specifically to hear our words is like the rich, thick, butter cream icing with sprinkles on the cake. It’s a very physical reminder of why we do what we do. It’s an initiation for new writers and it’s something that those in the audience who are novices anticipate and dread at the same time.
There were three reading panels at Smut by the Sea, each with four readers. Along with Tabitha Rayne, Lucy Felthouse, Victoria Blisse, Ashley Lister, Lexie Bay, Janine Ashbless and myself, there were a good number of first timers, who all totally rocked it, by the way! Rachel Kincaid, Jennifer Denys, Slave Nano, Gemma Parkes, Liv Honeywell, Domitri Xavier and Tilly Hunter. You all were fabulous! And when our burlesque performer, Moorita had to cancel at the last minute because of car problems, the intrepid Victoria Blisse just invited more people to read. We drank wine, ate Victoria’s scrummy homemade cookies, and read and listen to readings. It was another great opportunity for newbies to pop their reading-in-front-of-an-audience cherries. I was in heaven!
In between the readings there was another key component that made SBTS such a fantastic experience, and that was the chance to chat, to share ideas, to meet people face-to-face who we had only ever talked to online before and to discover that they were just as amazing face-to-face as they are on social media. I was particularly pleased to finally meet the lovely Kerry-Ann McDade, who had come all the way from Northern Ireland to be at SBTS. I knew from her sassy ‘Reading a Little Bit of Everything’ blog.
The other thing writers love to do almost as much as they love reading their work out loud is to talk craft with other writers, and there was a lot of animated talking shop that went on in Scarborough that day. We talked fears and pleasures, we talked nuts and bolts, we talked failures and successes. We talked works in progress, we talked new and old publishers, we talked self-publishing and self-promoting, we talked about our characters and about our plots, we talked about what fun it was to be who we are and do what we love most. The celebratory atmosphere was very contagious.
In fact it spilled over into the Black Lion Pub after hours for a lovely buffet and a wild night of karaoke and laughter and just plain silliness. Raymond and I toddled off to bed somewhere around 1:30, but it was a long time before I could finally sleep, as I lay there listen to the gulls and reliving all the fun and camaraderie of the day and thinking about all the lovely people I’d spent time with — not listed here because the list is a long one — and mostly just feeling very happy to have been a part of it all.