Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back To School: Dr. Charley Ferrer's BDSM For Writers Workshop

I have always loved school, but let me tell you, school was NEVER like this! Last Friday through Sunday I had the immense pleasure to attend BDSM FOR WRITERS, a workshop opportunity provided by Dr. Charley Ferrer, sex expert and BDSM lifestyler.

I write erotic romance and more and more kinky business is finding its way into my torrid tales. What can I say? My heroes and heroines just like it edgy! SO I found this a great opportunity to make sure that I am depicting these characters fairly, realistically and with humanity and complexity. But unlike college with its textbooks and ivy laden campuses, we met in a building on the West Side of NYC in the heart of the garment district. We came with our pens and notebooks at the ready, and our “homework” assignment – print out the manual – in hand, but here is where any similarity ended.

9 of us introduced ourselves and got comfy in a small room where “educational aids” were displayed - including floggers, whips, heavy metal collars, and fetish “intro” kits. We ladies came from all around – from Virginia, Boston, New Jersey and Rhode Island, among other locales. Young, older, some in the lifestyle, some not, we had the one thing in common that brought us together: Writing kinky erotic romance. Paranormal, contemporary, historical and everything in between. And what we wanted to know about BDSM was – well, everything!

Dr. Charley herself provided massive amounts of information on the lifestyle. A sex expert, worldwide speaker and presenter, she had us oohing and ahhing, and laughing. She explained the roles, the kinks, the fetishes and the psychology. She gave us the opportunity to try out the implements on one another, which we did with much giggling. I got to try on a collar and it was a curious experience to feel that heavy metal being locked around my throat. I had a few licks with a deceptively benign looking whip. We even had exercises to get us into the heads of submissives, and masters (though the kneeling was hell on my knees!) which was perfect for this “method writer” as I can now rekindle some of those sensations when crafting my characters. The “never-know-til-you-try” adage was a marvel in this regard because I, and the other ladies, were open-minded and willing.

We shared some of our own personal experiences, and got to know one another the first day, lunching together and chatting about our writing, social media, families and more.

Unfortunately I was unable to take advantage with the other gals when they trekked on down with Dr. Charley to Paddles S&M club. DomSub Friends was celebrating an end of summer party and the reports the next day by the bleary-eyed ladies were eye-opening, and hilarious. Suffice it to say they all had a blast and got into the swing of things with vigor.

In addition to Dr. Charley’s talks, she also arranged for a great group of guest speakers. Electrical play expert Jay presented a mind-blowing presentation on electricity in his “sensual” role. The discovery that Michael’s craft stores, my local supermarket and Home Depot can provide many naughty & fun enhancements to this play was a kinky kick. I’ll never look at Christmas decorations the same way again! Being able to play “hands on” with volunteers and get a sense of this play was really cool. His partner, volunteer and “sweet sadist” MaryAnn was likewise filled with great information about BDSM play and the lifestyle. They also generously shared information about organizations and play in other cities and Jay took names for his “dance card”, promising those ladies one “electric” experience that night at Paddles!

There were also several other speakers, members of the BDSM community, but writers too, which provided a wonderful parallel to the discussions on BDSM. Cassandra Park spoke about spanking and discipline play, and how it infuses her own erotica writings. The amazing Laura Antoniou, author of the cult Master/slave cult favorite series, The Marketplace, among other titles, was insightful, informative and wildly, hysterically funny. And I was thoroughly thrilled to have an opportunity to meet, and listen to, DL King, She is the award-winning editor who acquired my erotica short story “My Master’s Mark” (under my erotica pseudonym, Lydia Hill) which will be the finale in her upcoming Cleis Press anthology SLAVE GIRLS (2014).. She talked about her role in the community, and how her knowledge – and our research into this lifestyle – imbues her writing and will raise ours to a realistic level that will fascinate readers.

A second night at Paddles included game participation by two of the ladies’ husbands, and what was clearly an incredible demo of fire play, by Dr. Charley herself, with the assistance of one of our group who volunteered to be the flammable playee.

Our terrific workshop was rounded out with a discussion on psychological pathologies, including Dr. Charley stressing the distinction consensual BDSM players, sharing the power exchange and a mutual intent, and those who are sadistic and/or abusive outside this structure.

Having a chance to gain some understanding into this socially provocative community, to meet some authors intent on rendering this lifestyle with honesty and realistic depictions, to meet these lifestyle participants who gave so generously of their time, expertise, knowledge and humor, as well as to just make new friends, was simply a delight.

And as I made my way home on the LIRR, my head was filled with wonderful research, newfound respect, as well as great ideas, and a terrific base on which to build my BDSM erotic romance. Where my heroes and heroines play - safely, sanely and consensually - and find their happy, kinkilly ever afters.

Interested in attending next year’s bigger, better conference? Check out:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Floggers and Ball Gags & Cuffs – Oh My, My. My

The sub-genre of erotic romance now in the spotlight (thanks to Fifty Shades) is BDSM. Bondage – Dominance/Submission-Sado-Masochism. Kink, power exchange, Master/slave dynamic, Safe, Sane & Consensual rules. It works in historical, contemporary and paranormal. I’ve even seen Steampunk BDSM Erotic Romance! In other words, something for every kinky reader out there.

Of course, there have been incredible authors of this smoking hot sub-genre writing great BDSM romances for years. Some write what I lovingly call raunch romance. Gritty, graphic and hot. Others, like Eden Bradley, write more psychologically intense and sensual BDSM erotic romance. But what the best have in common, regardless of the tone of their tales, or the depth of their delightful depravity, is a great understanding of their sexual subject matter. Some of these authors live the lifestyle openly. Others may not, but have done in-depth study and research to make sure they are getting the details right and avoiding the criticism so many have leveled at EL James’ trilogy, calling it “BDSM lite”.

Short of putting yourself up for auction to the highest bidding Master, though, how can YOU educate yourself and enjoy writing this kind of erotic romance? What resources are at your disposal to help you understand the – ahem – ins & outs, and craft stories that rivet those readers, the ones who’ve been reading these tales for years, along with the millions of newly converted fans to the genre?

Here are a few that I have taken advantage of:


The Eulenspiegel Society. Self-proclaimed as the “oldest and largest BDSM support group in the USA”, they can be found at They sponsor many events, including their first annual festival that was held this July.

Dom/sub Friends. They hold monthly “munches” where novices are welcome, with a dinner and chat at a restaurant, and then you can accompany members to Paddles for an evening of – education.

Paddles. This club is for folks in the scene. Why not take a friend and check them out? Be prepared to throw aside your preconceptions and your inhibitions!

FetLife. This is an on-line social community for participants in BDSM. You have to join, but it is recommended by everyone “in the know” as a great place for respectful interaction.

Dr. Charley Ferrer’s Annual BDSM for Writers 3 Day Workshop. In addition to this workshop, check out her website for on-line workshops on various topics. She also has published BDSM for Writers which is available as an e-book.

House of Scorpio Kinky Salon NYC. This is a kinky costume event.

ON-LINE RESOURCES This site is porn. Yep. In addition to a variety of other fetishes that you would never be able to use in erotic romance, they also have submission videos, bondage and restraint videos, from which you can get a real handle on some of the physical logistics.

Websites. These websites abound. You can find hundreds of them. But be very careful. My advice would be to go to sites that are listed in the other organizations, like Eulenspiegel which has a number of them. Many others out there are porn sites or riddles with viruses.

MOVIES: Films like “9 ½ Weeks”, “Secretary”, “Blue Velvet” and “Body of Evidence” explore BDSM psychology.

And CineKink NYC film festival is exactly that, including their 2013 festival opener, “Remedy”.

FACEBOOK: There are dozens, if not hundreds of BDSM Facebook pages. I have “liked” and many of the ones I’ve found, I’ve surprisingly gotten a lot of information from them. You need to be respectful, and understand that there are lots and lots of kinky photos posted that you may be taken aback by. But there are also lots of discussions, questions, comments, and postings on thoughts, situations, etc., that can really give you details and background that can infuse your writing. Everything from BDSM Education FB pages to Daddies Love Their Little Girls (for the Daddy/little girl role fetish, not for pedophilia or incest!). If you try a page or 2, however, and find they aren’t for you, just “unlike”!

BOOKS: Shy? Want to study up on your spanking techniques in the privacy of your own home? Books abound. They have many classics on the lifestyle, as well as titles addressing specific kinks. There are even titles on how to deal with BDSM safety, emergencies and accidents. Then there are memoirs and non-fiction accounts by folks in the life. And there are hundreds of BDSM erotic romances and tons of BDSM erotica available to see how the other folks are writing about this subject. Here are just a few non-fiction titles that I have used that are honest, funny, and give great information about all the aspects of the lifestyle:

BDSM For Writers; BDSM The Naked Truth by Dr. Charley Ferrer
Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns by Philip Miller (it includes a Master/slave contract)
Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission by Gloria Brame, et al
SM101 by Jay Wiseman
The New Bottoming Book; The New Topping Book by Dossie Easton
The Loving Dominant by John Warren
Consensual Sadomasochism by William A. Henkin
Flogging by Joseph W. Bean
Partners in Power: Living in Kinky Relationships by Jack Rinella

Many of these titles are available through Greenery Press if you can’t find them elsewhere, including their [eye-opening] Toybag Guides for every kink, which I definitely recommend to get those exact technical details – they have illustrations! They include the “Dungeon Emergencies and Supplies” I bought at The Museum of Sex.

You can get a great deal of insight from memoirs, as well, especially about psychology and emotions. I’ve read these and can recommend them (for the not-faint-of-heart):

Dangerous Games: Sex and Slavery by Damian Swiss & Daphne Simons
Surrender by Toni Bentley
The Sexual Life of Catherine M. by Catherine Millet
100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed by Melissa P.
The Pleasure’s All Mine by Joan Kelly
Diary of a Submissive by Sophie Morgan

And if you want my recommendation on other BDSM erotic novels, BDSM erotic romances and BDSM erotica, give me a holler.

DO-IT-YOURSELF: While you certainly can’t explore serious BDSM power exchange by yourself, you can try a few things, just to get some sense of the feel of things. Ever felt a flogger? How about a cane or paddle or belt? You can buy some and give yourself a whack. Don’t forget to check out the marks afterwards! See how you’d describe the sensation – and the differences. Nipple clamps (clothespins work fine)? Safely try wax play. And if you’re lucky enough to have a partner who’s willing to indulge you, perhaps try some of the fun things like handcuffs or restraints, blindfolds, or spanking (or all three)!

So, depending on how far you want to push the envelope, these resources can help you get started.

And if you discover that the entire scene doesn’t do anything for you or, worse, yet, upsets you, turns you off or dismays you? Then writing BDSM erotic romance is not for you. Fortunately – if you don’t want a red room of pain in your novel, there’s plain old vanilla erotic romance and it can be just as satisfying!

Now get out there and write hot!

You don’t want a spanking do you?