Every year, the National Leather Association: International (NLA-I) — a leading organization for activists in the pansexual SM/leather/fetish community — recognizes excellence in writing and publishing about Leather, SM, bondage and fetishes through their award program. They announced the finalists yesterday, and I am so incredibly proud to say that Bound by Lust is one of the finalists for the Samois Anthology Award. It’s in such good company that I almost can’t even hope it wins — the finalists are:
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” ~Neil Gaiman
Oh, the years. They are beautiful babies and cruel mistresses and tongued puppies and the last slice of cake in the corner of the pan. They are your heart on a balloon string already taken by the sky and a glimpse of tomorrow through a toy-store kaleidoscope. The years are birds that wake you before dawn and that cry nevermore as you fall asleep. They are cinnamon earrings in a bowl, the taste of rare beef on the tongue, that time you inhaled, the scent of skin warmed by sun and want.
My years have been all of these things and more. I guess that’s what happens when you are lucky enough to continue to gather them in your bucket, to layer them like starfish and snails and shells and grains of sand. Some years have broken my heart with a hammer. A really big hammer. Other years have defied gravity, put me in a spaceship, let me touch the very surface of the mars of my childhood.
I often use this writing analogy when I am talking to students. Writing, I explain, is like a mountain range. You bust your ass climbing this huge mountain — learning some aspect of writing — and feel amazing when you get to the top, and you think, “Fuck yes! I’ve done it!” Then you look around you and realize there are hundreds of mountains, and you know that you have to climb each one, learn each thing, and that if you want to be a writer, you’ll be climbing this mountain range for the rest of your life.
I think life is like that too. Sometimes I run to the top of the mountain, and I look around I think: Holy crap, look at all those mountains I’ve climbed, how much I’ve learned, how much I’ve done. Look at all those mountains I still get to climb!
And other times I barely make it to the top — and the view from there is nothing but dark valley: Look at all the times you’ve fallen down, look at all the mistakes you’ve made, look at those people you hurt along the way, the times you made a fool of yourself, look at how insecure you were, how scared, how naive.
I was a late bloomer. I mean, really late. Here’s me when I was a teenager (inset). I have red glasses, a horrible haircut. Braces. Some kind of odd baggy pant ensemble (this was one of my better outfits at the time). The only cool thing about me is that I’m holding a turtle (I loved our turtles!).
At least until my first or second year of college, I was insecure, shy to the pain of physical pain. I knew that I was ugly, that I didn’t fit in with the cool kids, that I didn’t understand so many things: how to dress, how to walk, how to be around other people. I was a serious geek, but geekdom wasn’t cool then. I was smart, but being smart wasn’t cool either. I had a few good friends (thank god) but I was sure that I was always in danger of losing them to people who were more awesome than I was. I didn’t know how anyone would ever love me or want me, and when they did, I convinced myself that it wasn’t real. I had an eating disorder. I lied to protect myself. I left people before they left me. I desperately wanted to be a writer, but didn’t know how to make that dream come true, and was pretty sure I didn’t have the skills to do so anyway.
Mountain range. You climb to the pinnacle of this mountain. There: You’ve learned something about yourself. How to love or be loved. How to let go. How to hold on. How to dress. A little confidence. How to hold your heart in your hand and give it to someone else. How to ask for help.
Down the other side. Broken. You forget what you’ve learned. You sit in the shade of the valley for a long time. Wet, cold, hungry and pissed off. You’re trying damnit. Why doesn’t the world make it easier? Fuck this.
Eventually your ass is wet and you get up again. Start up the other mountain. Those things you learned join you like torpedos, like jet packs, like best friends, like the perfect tools. You learn, you discover, you ask with the echo of your voice through the sky and sometimes you get answers.
What is this life for? I don’t know. Love. Joy. Laughter. And the sadness too. The heart, the balloon, the string that tugs. Those falls down the slope, where everything is on the verge of breaking. Those rocky cliffs that reach to an impossible sky, a sky that, if we’re lucky, we get to touch once or twice. The view from here, where everything is exhausting and exciting and all your future and all your past lies before you, in an expanse of rocks and promise. It’s time to rise.
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
I got made into a Numenera character! Art by Kieran Yanner.
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
We knew Geek Love was hot when we created it. It’s got tentacle sex, robot rockin’, gamers rolling hot d20s, cosplay, Tesla, half-naked dwarves, hot gamer boys and girls… and that’s just in the first couple of stories and art. What we didn’t expect was that it would be too hot for Amazon:
Of course, we’re not saying Amazon should take us. They have the right to only take the books that fit within their very clear, stringent and consistently regulated content guidelines. Which are:
So, clearly it’s a good thing they don’t sell the wonderfully graphic Lost Girls or a book called Force Lactation and Rough Sex with My Busty Teen Niece: Licking My Aunt’s Milky Breasts (Taboo Erotica).
(Note: I’m not knocking authors or books of sexually explicit work here, clearly, and I’m certainly not saying Amazon should take those books down. I think the whole world should sell sexy stuff. I am just commenting on the lack of consistency in enforcing guidelines here. Also: if someone makes me a t-shirt that says “What I Deem Offensive is Probably About What You Would Expect,” I’ll send you a free Geek Love ebook).
Thankfully, as with so many things in the world, those who are awesome get to reap the rewards of being awesome. And in this case, the awesomeness is DriveThruFiction. They’ve supported Geek Love (and, truly, all of Stone Box Press’s books) from the get-go. We’re even working with them to create a beautiful, hardcover, print-on-demand version of Geek Love for those who missed the Kickstarter.
And look at this, after just one day of sales:
Yeah, that pretty much rocks. For us, for erotica lovers, for the authors and artists, and for DriveThru. To all those who support us: Thank you. May your endings always be happy and your bookshelves be full.
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
UPDATE: Amazon has now suspended our account based on the reasoning that we are violating policy with a book that they didn’t even let us publish. Which makes not an iota of sense to me, so much so that it makes me wonder if they’re attempting to punish me for being so outspoken about this whole event. To which I say: Go DriveThru. Go small companies that actually have customer service numbers and people who care. Go small presses. Go readers. Go to hell, Amazon.
Wow. Amazon just called me to say that they saw I’d posted about the fiasco with Geek Love and that it was rejected in error and I could reopen our account and publish it there if I wanted to. The woman on the phone was very nice, but sounded quite surprised when I said, “Thanks, but we already went exclusive with another company because our experience with Amazon was so bad. We’re not interested in coming back.”