Wednesday, March 26, 2014

BDSM Writers Con Is For Readers, Too

Have you heard about the BDSM Writers Conference to be hosted by world-renowned sexologist Dr. Charley Ferrer? It features keynote speaker and award-winning BDSM author Joey W. Hill and three full days of workshops. It will be held at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City August 21-24, 2014 and it’s going to knock your socks off.

Yes, it’s billed as a writers’ conference. Yes, there are many workshops geared to writing. Yes, over two dozen BDSM authors will be signing their books at the Book Signing.
But if you’re a reader, if you’re someone who’s curious about the BDSM lifestyle, if you’re too intimidated to go to a “dungeon” or even a “munch”, this conference is a safe, easy way to see a whole raft of live demonstrations by lifestyle practitioners.

Here’s a partial list of speakers who will discuss various aspects of BDSM, given by folks who walk the walk and talk the talk. Most have been in the lifestyle for years. The techniques mentioned here will be live demonstrations. This means you will probably have a chance to try out some of them yourself!

Bo Blaze will teach some basic “101 techniques” on floggers, whips, canes, paddles and other implements of erotic torture. Learn basic safety tips including, “where to hit” and more importantly “where not to hit” on your submissive’s body to ensure safe play and erotic delights. Bestselling author of the book “50 Shades of Curious”, Bo is the winner of the 2011 Pantheon of Leather President’s Award and has helped thousands learn to practice Safe, Sane & Consensual BDSM over the last 10 years, as Novice Group Facilitator & Board Member Emeritus, for The Eulenspiegel Society (TES), the oldest & largest BDSM support and education group in the Country.

Cassandra Park discusses one of the more ubiquitous types of play in the BDSM world: spanking. It’s a type of play that’s practically mainstream—television shows like Weeds and The Big Bang Theory have featured spanking scenes, and in the 2002 movie Secretary the title character is spanked by her boss. But as widespread as this type of play is, there’s no one way of doing it, and there’s no one type of “spanko.” Sometimes it’s foreplay before sex; sometimes it’s discipline with no sex at all. Cassandra will talk about the reasons people like to spank or be spanked, common fantasies shared by spankos, and implements typically used in spanking and discipline play. An editor and writer (erotic and mainstream), she has been in the BDSM lifestyle for more than 25 years.

Mistress Eve will explain and demonstrate erotic fire play. Fire play is considered one of the most dangerous and edgier activities performed in BDSM interactions as fire has a life of its own and makes its own demands. You will discover how it feels, what it looks like and be able to experience it for yourself—if you’re brave enough. This live demo will be performed at the BDSM Club for safety reasons.

Sir Guy and Karida, the International Power Exchange 2013 title holders, will show you how there are plenty of things, from spanking to sensory stimulation, from the sensuous to the sadistic, that can be done with the hands alone that can bring about a mutually satisfying experience. This class is hands on and encourages audience participation. They have over 20 years’ experience in the BDSM and Leather lifestyle. They are active in several organizations including TES, where Sir Guy is an emeritus board member and media representative and Karida is a volunteer and committee vice chair.

NauttiBoy will introduce you to the art of erotic knife play. Whether you’re novice or experienced, he will show you how to incorporate knives into your scenes using knives solely or as a tool to elicit the desired response. He will also discuss the care and cleaning of your blades both in and out of the dungeon, safety tips to minimize risk to you and your partner, as well as aspects of the law you need to know. This expert has presented at TES, the IronBell Academy, Albany Power Exchange, The Floating World 2012, Brimstone III & IV and WinterFire 2014.

Traveling Fool and Mary Ann hold a special place in my heart, as they introduced me to the Violet Wand at the very first BDSM Writers Workshop Weekend held in 2012 (read about my experience here, which happens to be my most visited blog).
     Dr. Charley writes on the Conference website, “Traveling Fool & Maryann have graciously provided their services and expertise at every BDSM Writers event I have conducted. It’s our pleasure to have them teach another LIVE Demo for BDSM WRITERS CON. I’ve seen no one with more knowledge of the Violet Wand, who blends the sensual and sadistic aspects of electricity so beautifully, than Traveling Fool and Maryann. Discover for yourself this amazing erotic play and learn which one of them is the Sensual Sadist and which one is the Playful Sadist.”

Okay, it’s Cris speaking again: when Traveling Fool asks if anyone wants to try the Violet Wand, TRY IT! In fact, try any of the techniques you’ll be seeing at the workshops to see what floats your boat. It may open a new world for you.

So. What are you waiting for? Sign up for the BDSM Writers Con 2014. And do check out all the authors who will be giving workshops (myself included) and/or offering their books for sale at the Book Signing on Sunday.

~~ Cris Anson

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

POLYAMORY: What Is It, Who Does It, And Why

Polygamy. Polyandry. Polyamory. Aren’t they all the same?

Before I began researching polyamory, the only thing that came to mind was the Mormon practice of polygamy, where a man had many wives, sired children with most or all of the wives, and they all lived together with the husband as its head.

I discovered that polyandry is akin to polygamy, except the wife has several husbands. Over the millennia, many tribes throughout the world practiced polyandry, often involving brothers as a way to keep landholdings intact.

As I met people at munches, conventions, workshops and parties, I came across a number of married folks who had relationships outside the husband-wife core. This piqued my curiosity. How did they live? How did they control their jealousy? What did they tell their children, their families, their neighbors?

Here’s what Wikipedia says: “Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly], meaning "many" or "several", and Latin amor, "love") is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.”

But polyamory isn’t about one head of household with many spouses. The nucleus of a polyamorous relationship usually is a married couple who then add one or two (or more) intimate participants to their circle.

On FetLife (a fetish site geared for information and education, not a hook-up site) there’s a “Practical Polyamory” discussion group with over six thousand vocal participants. But those who have added “Polyamory” to their “likes” number almost 43,000. Wikipedia estimates there are as many as a half million polyamorous relationships in the U.S.

Interestingly, these couples/triads/quads/groups are not all polyamorous the same way. Let me outline four such groups, all married without children, that I’ve become friends with, ranging in ages from mid-thirties to early sixties. Their names, of course, have been changed.

George and Martha Wash. George is a Master who considers Martha his slave. Yet Martha is a Dominant to several male subs and in fact hosts parties limited to female Dominants and male submissives. George, on the other hand, goes out on his own to play with other slaves and subs. Martha feels that if George is looking for something that she can’t provide him, she loves him enough to let him search for it elsewhere, and vice versa. Thus Martha introduced me to the concept of compersion: “A feeling of joy when a loved one invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship” (definition is from Urban Dictionary).

Adam and Eve Eden. They are living apart due to job opportunities. They stay in touch daily by Skype, phone and text. If either one has opportunities to play with outsiders, they discuss expectations and desires with each other, and after play they exchange details of said play to titillate the other. Both are switches (they can be either a top or a bottom, depending on who they are playing with). When they reunite within a year, they look forward to sharing their play partners with their spouse.

Jack and Jill Hill. Jack is a Dominant and Jill a submissive. For the past several years Jack has had a slave who lives over an hour away, whom he sees for occasional weekends, with or without Jill. But they make a point to vacation, the three of them together, a couple of times a year. Jack also plays with others with Jill’s full knowledge and consent. Jill said she would play with someone else if she could find someone "as good as Jack", but she isn’t looking very hard.

John and Jane Doe. This is the youngest couple, just starting their polyamory explorations. A switch, John has a girlfriend whom he plays with at parties, while at the same party Jane, a submissive, plays with men or women as opportunities arise. Jane would like to find a boyfriend but hasn’t connected intimately with anyone. Yet John and Jane are obviously crazy about each other. This “crazy about” feeling holds true for all of these couples. Still, they all seek intimacy outside the marital bond, and all parties express compersion.

Those are only a few of the possible permutations. Some folks consider any kind of multiple partners a polyamorous relationship even if none of them are married to each other, while others feel the core must be a married couple adding one, two or more outside participants. There are groups where two couples live together and have sex only within that circle, including same-sex relations.

Some say it’s more trouble than it’s worth (as one person told me, “Even deciding on which movie to see can take all day”) while others say it’s the best thing since the computer chip. All agree it has to be consensual, ethical, and responsible.

It goes without saying that communication between the two core persons (husband and wife) is paramount and ongoing. Honest and open discussions with their blended “family” should include what each person expects from the relationship, coping with jealousy, how to handle fluid exchanges, safer sex and test results for STDs, and behavior around any children of the group.

Note that polyamory is not the same as swinging (i.e., married couples for whom sex with others is more of the friends-with-benefits variety and not based on respect and emotional intimacy). In polyamory, the secondary relationships are deeper and longer lasting and sex is only a small part of the continuum.

The above only scratches the surface of this unusual lifestyle. Here are two recent articles for those interested in more information:

This one from Live Science debunks 5 myths about polyamory. For a more detailed look at polyamory, Huffington Post features a book on the subject written by Elizabeth Sheff: "The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families".

I’d be very interested in hearing from folks pro or con about this fascinating subject. Please feel free to leave a comment.

~~ Cris

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SAD? Or Depressed? Or Just an Excuse for Why I Haven't Been Writing?

Now that most of the snow is gone and the switch to Daylight Saving Time signals the end of winter, I can look back at a pretty crappy past three months with a sigh of relief that it’s over.

It started back in early December when the cough, the aches, the malaise, just wouldn’t go away. Not well enough to hit the fitness center, throat too sore to talk, an all-over yucky feeling. Finally on New Year’s Eve day I saw the nurse practitioner, who prescribed an antibiotic and a steroid.

Photo by Cris Anson
Okay, the physical symptoms faded but the malaise lingered. Dark days, sixty-five inches of snow, ice-bound river, cabin fever, inertia, I didn’t even feel like reading, never mind writing. Finally forced myself to look up Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) on Google.

Was that my problem? I’d heard that it makes otherwise-normal people depressed in the winter. You know, cranky, wanting to sleep all the time, ennui, not wanting to see family or friends. According to Wikipedia, it occurs in about 1.4% of the population in Florida but up to 9.7% in New Hampshire. And I’m pretty far up in latitude so I’m more susceptible to it than southerners are.

On the other hand, I was probably also depressed. It was the Christmas season when everyone was supposed to be jolly and looking forward to spending time with family. Only trouble was, my husband and parents are deceased and I never was fortunate enough to have children, so being mostly alone when the media hyped all the warm fuzzies we were supposed to be having contributed to the feeling of depression.

So which was it, SAD or depressed? I didn’t know and I didn’t care. I just wanted to work my crossword puzzles. In my pajamas. While eating chocolates.

When I was Googling I should have looked up those special happy lights that radiate 10,000 lux (whatever that is) so I could sit in front of one every morning for a half hour and feel happy afterward. But being of the Old School, I soldiered on without buying something that many might consider akin to snake oil. Besides, how would UPS get through the snow on my driveway to deliver the package?

BDSM Writers Com 2014
Now it’s mid-March, the sun streams through my windows, the columbines have poked their scalloped leaves out of the soil and I can see the tiny cherry-pink noses of the peonies breaking through the ground. I’ve started planking (you should see the beginnings of my two-pack abs!). I look forward to resuming my research on BDSM.

In fact, I can’t wait until Doctor Charley Ferrer’s BDSM Writers Con August 21-24. I spoke to her a few days ago and the lineup of workshops keeps growing and sounds awesome. Imagine me giving a workshop alongside some of my favorite authors in the genre (such as Joey W. Hill, Desiree Holt, Samantha Cayto and Eden Bradley). Lifestyle practitioners are also lined up, including the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), who will discuss BDSM and the law. Check out the link for more information on what promises to be a dynamite conference.

Liberty States Fiction Writers Con
Even more imminent is the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference this coming Saturday (March 15) at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, NJ. Twenty workshops will focus on many facets of writing, including forensics, screenwriting tools, mystery, plot, dialogue, alpha heroes, and new publishing frontiers. Almost two dozen editors and agents will be taking one-on-one appointments.

LSFW is my local writers’ group. Looking to reconnect with friends and getting some needed writing energy. And with Sherrilyn Kenyon as our keynote speaker, I’m sure I will.

If you’re in the area, stop by between 4:30 and 6:00 p.m. and cheer me up, or at least say hello; the Book Fair is free and open to the public and I’ll be signing my books, including my latest paperback from Ellora’s Cave, MERCY AND REDEMPTION.
Is there a cure for SAD? Or must we simply wait it out? If you’ve ever experienced it, what have you done to combat this seasonal dreariness that drags us down until we want to curl up in a ball and just vegetate? Please share your insights.

~~ Cris Anson