Thursday, August 30, 2007

Three's company-or is it a crowd?

I have to admit that this post has nothing to do with Colin Firth or Mr Darcy-I just love this picture! It's that moment when we see the softening in Darcy's eyes as he observes Elizabeth playing the harpsichord/piano-I love that scene, it says so much without words.

Actually, I'm really following on from Jane's post about menage a trois, or however many you want to make it, because it's a subject close to my heart writing-wise rather than personally-I can't imagine having to put up with 2 real men-think of all those dirty socks, (it's okay I said socks, crumpets!) the endless demands for sex, the toilet seat never down! (I could go on but I think you get the picture.)

Maybe that's why it's nice to write about it instead. I understand that it is a fairly common fantasy, two men and one woman. It fascinates me because I write about dysfunctional sexual relationships and adding 2 men into the romantic mix offers both the writer and the reader, a whole new layer of complications.

The book I'm writing at the moment, potential title 'Simply Sinful' (but as we know, that can change in a second), is an exploration as to whether a menage a trois really can work without someone getting left out or sidelined. One of the things I've learned is to allow my characters to explore the things that I don't understand either as they wend their way through the usually dark and emotional quagmire of my story line.

Instead of trying to intervene and offer author-like hints such as 'little did they know' or telling the reader, I get my characters to have a conversation about the particular thing that is worrying me and somehow, we all work it out together. Okay, that sounds crazy, but it really is a learning experience for me too.

At the moment, I'm trying to get the heroine of my book to decide whether she really wishes to commit adultery, even with her husband's approval and for the best of reasons. How will that make her feel? How does it affect her relationship with God, her family and her husband? I'm not sure yet, but we are working our way through it together.

One of my crit partners once told me that reading my books was like hands on sexual therapy in action. I 'think' she meant that my characters really do discover themselves through the sexual acts they engage in, or choose not to engage in, as they work their way through the story and ultimately reach a satisfactory conclusion.

That's one of the reasons why I get twitchy when people describe erotic romance as a story that could possibly stand alone if you took all the sex out. Mine definitely can't, but I still don't believe I'm writing straight erotica as my characters usually end up together by the end! Maybe not conventionally happy ever after, but happy enough :)

It will be interesting to see whether I can get away with this book...and whether people will still see it as a romance. I hope they do, because that's what I intended all along, even if I choose the most torturous paths to get there! Sometimes I wish I could write the more conventional stories but my muse says otherwise, and ultimately, you have to write what you believe in...

Is there a line you draw between erotica and erotic romance and if so, where do you draw it? I think it's getting very blurry these days...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Three's a Crowd?

While feverishly googling myself today, I came across a discussion on Amazon (that naturally I didn't bookmark) where someone suggested Forbidden Shores (yes, me, my book, coming out in less than five weeks... oh, shoot me) was Signet Eclipse's first shy foray into the wonderful world of menage.

I'm not too keen on the term menage. Menage a trois, fine. But menage alone--well to me it has an aura of inappropriate domesticity. The heroine, with a complacent air, saunters through the marketplace, trailing her fingertips over the plump surface of an eggplant. Yes, that one. Mmmm. Very nice. Behind her traipse two men with shopping baskets, obedient and domesticated. You know they can't wait to get home, put on their aprons, and start slicing and dicing.

So I wonder about the mania for menage. And not stopping at three, but four, five... I read one with six last night. I think it was six; it could have been seven. Only one, the leader of the pack, actually got to do it with the lady (thank you, Monty Python). The others just helped out in a selfless sort of way, politely turning away when their corks were about to pop. The logistics and choreography impressed me; I have trouble if three or more characters are talking.

And I wonder if this is yet another instance of how erotic romance is becoming its own worst enemy--that if you have more than two people having sex there are specific ways to write it. I keep thinking of the 2006 Passionate Ink lunch in Atlanta where one of the speakers declared that we all wanted two gorgeous (alpha, of course) men with their two gorgeous eggplants and I was embarrassed for the waiters. Not apparently two women and one man--readers didn't want it, although I think it has far more interesting possibilities. My editor told me my threesome scenes should be all about the heroine's pleasure, even though we both knew in real life they'd be comparing scars and talking sports at worst or being obnoxiously, rampantly, competitive at best.

In Forbidden Shores, the menage is not a happy one. Without giving away too much of the plot, each of the three characters is in love with the one who doesn't love them back. Curiosity, lust, and a desperate need to do something--anything--to resolve the situation (and please the loved one) drive them into a rather clumsy experiment. They find themselves trapped by it (the original title of the book was Chained) and not much happier.

And it's the heroine who suggests it and gets the most out of it, the greedy girl.

So how do you approach your menage scenes?
And do you think a HEA with a menage in a historical is possible?

All contests all the time at (ending soon) and

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Book that Polarizes.

Oh yes, indeedy. My innocent little tome, Unmasqued, has been gleaning reviews like crazy!

What I've found the most interesting is that, with few exceptions, people either really love it...or really hate it. Since this is my first published erotic novel, I'm new to the game--I assume that's the case with most erotic novels.

It doesn't surprise me at all, though, and I'm actually glad when people post reviews like this on Amazon by Calsgirl:

"If I could give this book ZERO stars - I would!...This book merely takes our beloved characters and puts them into scenes of bondage, whips, chains and sex with no feeling. It is sad that the writer felt they had to put someone having sex onto every other page - - the story line itself (excluding the sex) was not that bad - and the writing was okay - but the calousness [sic] of the sex throughout the book just ruined it! If you like S & M/Bondage and Animal lusts - then you'll just love this book."
A review like that actually sends up a red flag to those readers who aren't going to like the erotic aspect of the book, and helps steer them away. Because, after all, erotica isn't for everyone--and messing with the classics isn't either. Personally, I'd rather have people know what they're getting when they pick up my book.

Here's another one that does a great job of letting people know what they'll find between the sheets of UNMASQUED (a one-star review from Katiebabs):
"...Mrs. Giry is a nympho involved with both of the owners of the opera house. At least the old gal has some fun in this book!
Erik, the Phantom uses a mirror and harp to introduce Christine to his way of teaching. He lurks around the opera house pouting most of the time.

Raoul and his brother Philippe force Christine to have sexual acts with them both at the same time. Big brother Philippe likes rough sex... really rough sex. (He even has a special room for playtime)

And Christine, well she walks around in a sex induced state through most of the novel. With three men following me around, I would also!" did dueling reviews, too, and once again the polarization happens: a 4.5-star review versus a 1-star review.

But here's the thing, and YA Librarian says it perfectly in his/her review on Amazon:

"I find it odd that people's knickers are in a knot when reviewing this book. I'm not sure how this book could have fooled anyone into believing it was a nice wholesome tale about POTO when the title is: Unmasqued: An EROTIC Novel of The Phantom of The Opera. People should know that this book is going to have sex in it; a lot of sex in it and people are having sex with each other in different ways. If you are not a fan of erotica then this may not be the book for you."

Hear, hear!

So, tell me....other Spiced Tea Party you find this kind of polarizing effect on your books because they're erotica, or is it less of an issue because you're not blatantly messing with classics as I am?

And for non-erotica writers....what would make it easier for you (other than labeling a book "erotica") to help you determine whether it's your cup of tea or not?

And finally--don't forget you have until September 10 to use the $1-0ff coupon from Borders for Unmasqued or a host of other books!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mood swings

On another blog, I recently talked about characters getting in the mood, and I was trying to come up with something to write about today, I realized that I’ve been doing quite a bit of mood-swinging in my writing lately.

If I may sound immodest for a moment, and feel free to disagree with me, my erotic romances are, well, romantic and hot, but there are shades of darkness in there as well. It’s not a roaring fire -- it’s a roaring fire with sunspots, if I may get overly metaphoric. That said, there are lighter moments as well. You can't have a regency-set anything without banter!

The option book proposal I turned in, is a lot darker. It’s hot, but not in the sense of discovery or exploration or sheer lust -- but hot in the sense of sharp revenge, of betrayal and playing dark games. Fortunately, it’s not like that all the time, else I’d really be in trouble, but that’s how it started out.

Since submitting it, I went off to play with some other proposals, and have returned to write another erotic romance. This one is back to my usual moods, although, personally, I find it funnier (or as funny) as ONE MORE TIME but then, my humor has always been a little off-beat.

Anyway, so the current WIP is light, fluffy, and yes, there are big black sunspots in the beginning that are soon to be fixed.

So readers -- if you buy erotic romance, does the tone matter? Do you mind hot stuff mixed with dark stuff and with lighter stuff? Does it bother you if the book is weighted more one way or the other?

And writers -- what are your books like?Hot and humorous, hot and dark, hot and something else? And does it vary from book to book?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On the Edge of My Seat

Congrats Lacy, on the gorgeous cover for your book. That is going to fly off the shelves—he’s irresistible.

As for me, I’ve been struggling to think of a post for today. I’m knee deep in plotting a paranormal romantic suspense. I’m in the storyboarding phase—my term for writing bits and pieces of scenes and then rearranging them until I have a story. While doing this I realize what I’m missing and fill the page with notes in caps such as "WHY IS HE DOING THIS?" "MAKE HIM A THREAT" and "NO! NO! NO!" Ah, the smooth, orderly process of writing is such a treat.

My current struggle is that I wanted to build a very hot, intense, erotic relationship between my hero and heroine. However, there is now a child in jeopardy in my story and the hero’s younger brother is a suspect. And I just can’t picture bringing the couple together for hot sex while they are under so much pain and stress. So I may have to do some replotting. I always admire writers who can elegantly combine suspense and sex, because it is such an art of defining character motivation. I do see how a writer can make it believable that a character can feel passion when he or she is surrounded by danger. In some ways, it might be a survival instinct along the lines of "mate while you still can", or maybe even "bond with an ally." But making characters feel desire when someone else is in danger? I can’t do it.

My first book SIN (Aphrodisia, Sept 06) blended my love of erotic romance with Agatha Christie "who-dunnit" mysteries. My elegant houseparty is actually an orgy. In SIN, I felt I got just the balance I wanted between suspense, fear, and hot sex.

So I’m back to the "storyboarding board" (my computer) to see if I can figure this one out. For those of you reading and writing out there, have you read many erotic romantic suspense stories? Any favorites?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Shy People

Congrats to Lacy and all the astonishingly prolific and talented authors on our blog. Meanwhile, I'm laboring away in slow quiet obscurity, moving words around somewhere before the middle of the w.i.p.

In fact I feel pretty ok about being in this place. At least (to unpack the initials) the work is in progress. And on the good days I actually find something to like in it.

And not having a recent book out has given me a chance to break that dirty habit of Googling myself -- and moreover, to slap my mouse hand before checking my Amazon numbers yet another time. (Authors, bear with me when I remind you that every time you check your Amazon number you add to the Amazon hit count, which adds to what Amazon can charge in ad rates, contributing to their ability to drive yet another brick-and-mortar bookstore belly-up -- see my disclaimer of self-interest below, and my confessions of my own Amazon-susceptibility below that.).

Where was I?

Right, the obscurity thing - in the words of Djuna Barnes, the “humble violet under a cow pad” thing…

… which has caused me to remember something that happened before I was published in romance and during the period when Carrie's Story and Safe Word were out of print from Masquerade and hadn't yet been picked up by Cleis Press. Which was (this is where the plot kicks in) finding out that someone had run an ad in a little BDSM newsletter offering $100 for a copy of Carrie's Story.

I didn't know whether to be flattered or horrified, so I simply forgot about it and went back to moping (oh, and writing Almost A Gentleman). Until the guy caught up with me and left a note for me with my husband Michael at Modern Times Bookstore where he worked…

(…hence, btw, my concern with the concern with brick-and-mortarbookselling…)

…but back to our story about the guy who’d offered the hundred dollars.

"What kind of a person was he?" I asked.

"Oh, you know," Michael said. "Like a lot of your Molly Weatherfield readers. Shy." He felt qualified to say this because he’d been selling my erotica over the counter for a few years and chatting with readers about it.

Of course, it was just an unscientific sampling, but I thought and still think there was something to what he said. In fact, my own conviction, based on a few years of reader response, is that BDSM does attract shy -- and more especially, smart shy -- people.

The guy who’d offered the hundred for Carrie’s Story (though I sold him a then out-of-print copy for ten) turned out to be a professor emeritus with a list of academic honors as long as his... arm. And then there was a time when Carrie’s Story got on some list on Amazon (gulp, yes, Amazon -- guilty as charged). Anyhow, this list had some sci fi on it but mostly books with huge long names like The Obsessive Compulsive Programmer’s Guide to the Really Cool and Gnarly Portions of the Java API.

I'd like to think that my late dad the mathematician would be proud -- no, come to think of it, I'm not going there after all. But I do enjoy imagining that somewhere out there there's a Carrie's Story Users Group.

But why should this be?

My best guess is that it’s because BDSM is so rule-bound, so concerned with limits and challenges. Even when you're being outrageous, you're part of an elaborate system that you're trying to understand even as you want it to overwhelm you. Endlessly approaching but never reaching a limit: I have a character in Safe Word compare it to the thrill of understanding calculus.

I've been thinking about paradoxes like this for practically all my adult life -- or at least since I realized (maybe my fourth time through) how incredibly chatty the internal monologue in Story of O is, especially during the times when she's forbidden to speak. The need to understand is part of the experience and part of the mystery too.

I remember an aha moment in Sallie Tisdale’s Talk Dirty to Me:

There is one specific element to many fantasies that might be called a kind of dominance but isn't dominance as we usually define it. I mean the dream of being dominated by sex itself -- being forced, as it were, by the intensity of the sex to submit to and accept sex, be bound by sex, mastered by sex.
Being forced is something shy people can wish for (you know, in a nice way). While method and mastery are things smart people understand.

The experience of erotica is admitting that somebody had to think about what you wanted, in a premeditated way that resembles the formal methodology of art or law or computer programming more closely than seems quite decent. Erotica (and I would add BDSM erotica in particular) is a way to do sex and think about it too.

Which makes some people very nervous, and some people very hot.

But what do you think? Shy folks among you and extroverts as well. I’d love to know.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I Received My New Cover

I arrived home last night to find a package of cover flats for my book ANIMAL LUST. I am thrilled with it… it is a Regency set paranormal…

I took the image with my camera so it is not as sharp as if I had the electronic image… but I just had to share! The words on the front in script say…Only he can fulfill your wildest longings…

I have man titty and tattoos!


This is what it says on the back…

In Regency England, there is a world ruled by feral passion and forbidden desire—a world where every fantasy is realized as four brothers take their women to rapturous new heights of carnal bliss…

The Ursus brothers are descended from a Viking clan whose ancestors doomed them to a life of all-consuming sensual urges. Haunted by their insatiable hunger, each brother knows that only one thing can tame their wild yearnings: claiming the heart and soul of the woman who is his destiny…

Surrounded by an aura of danger and driven by his unshakeable instincts, each brother knows immediately when he’s encountered the right woman, and they immediately instruct them in the art of giving and receiving pleasure. But once these women get their first sizzling taste of raw abandoned ecstasy, they only want more and more…

Hugs and Kisses,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Where do you get your ideas from?

I have no idea...well actually now I do but only because Pam mentioned something on our blog a while back that absolutely stuck with me and secondly I was answering questions for an interview today and actually had to think about my 'process'.

Here's what Pam said:

"The thing is, the specifics of my erotic books are made up or taken from things other people made up. But there's a way in which they're the truest books I've ever written, because I had those fantasies and that's the truth. I think the act of giving it literary form was a way of making something tellable that would otherwise be entirely secret and untellable."

And I thought yes that's absolutely how I feel and Pam has put it so eloquently that I don't need to. I know a lot of writers of erotica and erotic romance do actually live lives that bear a striking resemblance to their written work. And then there's me...happily married, mother of four, frumpy soccer mom. And I'm cool with that, usually, although occasionally when I hear tales of other authors' wild lifestyles I wonder whether I'm a big fraud who if she stuck to writing what she knew would write very short books.

Pam reminded me that being a voracious reader and having a deep fantasy life are just as valuable resources in a writers toolbox as being out there living the artistic life. I also realized that my ability to be quiet, to listen and to watch were other skills that helped me write the books I wanted to.

Thank you Pam :)

And now onto the whole 'process' question, which is linked to the above, because I get uncomfortable with the whole idea that I have a 'process' which sounds like something I might have to produce a spreadsheet for or present at a board meeting, or god forbid, a writer's workshop.

For some people having a process obviously works. Sometimes I wish I knew their secret. One of the interview questions asked what came first for me, character, plot, setting etc and it made me think. Luckily for me, I've just started musing about a new book and so for the first time, I'm able to tell you my process.

Although, when I write it down it sounds crazy! What happens is this. I get a sense of a person, usually at a critical emotional moment in his or her life, (for me, usually its the hero.)

In this instance, I got a glimpse of a man, sitting on his bunk, behind bars. He's in a crowded space and yet he is completely alone and apart, all his emotions so finely banked down that no one looking at him would be able to tell how intensely he hates his present situation, how every muscle is quivering from the effort to stop himself from throwing himself at those bars and screaming until he is hoarse. Only I see it because I 'know' him.

Well, I don't really know him -yet-but gradually as I let my subconscious play with the image and his feelings, I'll get to know more and more about what time period he exists in and what is going on around him to have put him in this position. I suppose it's a bit like the small pebble thrown into the silent pond and the ripples radiating out from it. I kind of like that image. By the way, I think his name is Constantin, but I could be wrong.

Does the above count as a process? I'm not sure, but it works for me. As Pam says, it's pure fantasy. I've never been to jail, I have no idea how it would feel to be there but, trust me, I know how Constantin feels.

So you know what I'm going to ask you-Writers, where do you get your ideas from? And if you are a reader, do you like to know how a writer gets his/her ideas and do you feel cheated if he/she hasn't actually done everything in their books?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Peaches, the sexiest fruit

I love peaches.

They're beautiful to look at, flushed and golden, the color of a sunrise.

You hold one in the palm of your hand, feel the weight, the solidity of the fruit, the delicate velvety fuzz. Your fingers may trace a flaw or crease, created as the fruit has swelled and ripened. If your peach is fresh from the tree or found at an outside market, it will hold the warmth of the sun and possibly a delicate green leaf.

You may get a hint of the scent, the perfume as you hold the fruit, even before you take that first glorious bite--sometimes you have to; you can't wait for a knife and plate and the pleasures of civilized dining. The skin slicks away like a wet, red rag and juice fills your mouth, maybe even spilling out to dribble down your chin as the fruit, firm enough to present a little resistance, breaks and yields.

Careful now; your teeth grate against the pit, the ridged secret center. The flesh may spring away, or you may have to tease those last pieces of fruit, work them free with tongue and teeth.
When you lift the pit away, the impression is etched onto the hollow, red and crinkled, rough against your lips and tongue; there's a slight bitterness at the center, soon forgotten as you devour the sweet gold of the peach, juice on your lips and face and fingers.

Yes, I love peaches.

What's your favorite sexy fruit?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Indulge me?

Well, the reviews are starting to come in...and pardon me if I'm a little bit tickled about the response to Unmasqued.

I knew I was playing with fire, messing with a classic novel and romanticizing--er, eroticizing, I mean--a well-known, beloved story. And, yeah, there are people who aren't going to care for the book...but check out this lovely review at Blogcritics.

And since I want to make it easier on you, you don't even have to click's just a little snippet:

"Unmasqued, a retelling of a classic, is an erotic classic in its own right. Charged with erotic images, sensual passion, fiery longing, and steamy scenes on and off the stage this is a book to be devoured in one seating. Then opened again and read slowly just for the pure pleasure of it."

(Thank you, Ms. McNeill! You've just made my day.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Spiced Tea Party tea party

So I am typing this on the fly before I dash off to work (I think I'm going to be late to work but as far as I'm concerned, that's ok as I was there until 9pm last night, hence me not having this post prepared!)... so I reserve the right to come back and fix typos, etc tonight.

Anyway, at the National conference for Romance Writers of America (RWA), we gals got together, along with Lucienne Diver, agent, and some gals from Pam and Jane's talk and had some tea, some chatter and some Tim Tams.

Here's Pam -- just one look and you know it has to be her:

Jane and Kate stopped talking and posed for their shot. (By the way, their workshop was most excellent and a lot of fun! Kate moderated it.)

And here's Diana Cosby (newly sold), Sharon Page and moi. Note the small evidence of Tim Tams in front of me.

We had a most delightful tea party, although the tea was too far down the large cup for Jane to successfully do a Tim Tam slam, but oh well, maybe next year...

I have one more picture but I'll put that up on my website, er, sometime soon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Release Day, An Award, and a Coupon--oh MY!

Well, this is it! The release day for Unmasqued: An Erotic Novel of the Phantom of the Opera. Yay! Now I can walk down the street, hiding my face, wondering who's read it, and if that's why they're looking at me like that.

Someone equated publishing an erotic novel to taking off one's clothes and running down the street--your street, not some anonymous one--naked. Pam, based on your post of last week, I'm wondering if it would also be like walking naked through one's place of work.

Not only should Unmasqued be in stores (bookstores, I mean--I highly doubt Wal-Mart and Target will carry a book that clearly states "erotic" on the front cover) everywhere, but Borders is offering a $1-off coupon for the hefty, hot trade paperback.

Not only has Pam graciously read and raved about Unmasqued (you can see her quote right on the cover of the book!), but our own dear Jane Lockwood has bestowed an award on the tome.

Last week, she emailed to tell me Unmasqued won a Missed Metro Stop award. And since only three other authors (Pam, of course, Eloisa James, and Vicki Lewis Thompson) have garnered this award, I'm feeling pretty happy about that! I'm in great company.

(Although I do have something to strive for, as Ms. James also got a Wrong Line Honorable Mention.)

Monday, August 6, 2007


Apologies on being late with my post. My excuse is the usual summer one--the kids at are home and no possible way to get on a computer while potty-training my son. When he says he has to go, he simply is not kidding.

I'm in an odd place right now, where I haven't written an erotic scene for over 4 weeks. I almost feel like I should be making some sort of confession. And I'm definitely suffering withdrawal. Right now, all the "accountant like" part of writing takes precedent, such as preparing an outline/synopsis of my next story. Researching. Thinking out logistics--timing, setting, how far it takes to travel, should my hero and heroine start in the same town, etc., etc.

And I've wondered why I wish I could just push all that aside and indulge myself by writing an erotic scene. Other than the fun factor, of course. And I think it's because, as has been mentioned before here, that those scenes are the ones that best reveal characters. And I really, really want to start getting to know my characters.

When I wrote my first published historical erotic romance, A Gentleman Seduced, I would think up the scenes in the morning before I got out of bed. So then I would be very excited to get to the computer and get to work. This way, the scenes came out of order. I just knew what my hero Lucien would do, and what his emotional reactions would be. His playful bondage scene from near the end of the book was written somewhere during the middle, and chapter four required seven re-writes...that sort of thing.

So I have a question for other writers out there--do you write your scenes in order, or do certain scenes, sex scenes or others, just leap into your mind and beg to be put down on paper, even if they are completely out of order?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Roman a Clef -- Let's do Lunch

People always like romans a clef -- you know, novels about famous people with the names changed. Because everybody likes to get an inside view of the rich and the famous.

But the concept has come to have a different spin for me since a set of conversations I had with some old friends from where I used to work -- call it BiFi, for Big Important Financial Institution.

As day jobs went, I pretty much liked working at BiFi. The pay was ok, the benefits excellent, the management fair-minded, and my fellow workers smart, literate, and supportive of my writing. I still go to lunch with groups of BiFi and ex-BiFi folks once in a while.

And so, about a year ago, I went to a luncheon and told Sarah, who's also retired, that I was writing full time now. She was really excited about it and so I gave her the URL to my web page. A few months later at the next luncheon, Sarah sat down next to me and told me that she and her book group (some members of which still worked at BiFi) had read my book.

"Great," I said. "Which one?"

She looked at me as though I shouldn't even have to guess. "Oh, Carrie's Story, of course."

Of course. The one I wrote (as Molly Weatherfield) with whips, chains, ponygirls, slave auctions, and equal-opportunity wall-to-wall kinky sex. The one where I dreamed up a motormouth twenty-year-old bike messenger to play out a lifetime of my inmost fantasies.

Who wouldn't chose Carrie's Story? Especially among the people I thought I had a basic business casual workplace relationship with.

Appalled and abashed, I hid my face in my tortellini, but my curiosity finally got the better of my befuddlement.

"So, Sarah, what did you and the group think of Carrie's Story?"

"Well," she said, "we liked it ok, but we were really mostly interested in how you know all that stuff, like where they have the slave auctions."

Right. I've heard this before. I've tried to explain that everybody who has that kind of fantasy life pretty much comes up with the same details. I don't understand why, but it's been true ever since the Marquis de Sade invented Sodality of the Friends of Crime, in Juliette. For some reason, the idea of a secret society, based on excesses of unequal power, really ups the fantasy.

I often like to speculate why this is true, but I wasn't going to get any help from Sarah.

"See, it's a fantasy," I said. "A shared fantasy. Kind of a sociological thing. You know, it's really interesting how..."

Sarah winked at me. Nodded. And winked and nodded again.

I tried to explain again and she interrupted me. "But it must be a true story," she said, "because there was this movie that Stanley Kubrick made, with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman..."

Right, Eyes Wide Shut. Because everybody knows that if something is in a movie it's gotta be a true story. Especially if they used CGI to hype the orgy scenes.

"So what we really did," Sarah said, "during our book group meeting, was try to guess who Carrie really is, among the people who work at BiFi, you know. And we think we've got it narrowed down..."

And I have to confess to you that I was afraid to find out who they thought Carrie at BiFi was.

Just call it a compliment to my story-telling and world-building skills. I guess.

Gulp. Wink. Nod. Gulp again. Because none of you readers out there would ever make such assumptions, would you?

And for you other writers of hot-and-heavy stuff out there, has anything like this ever happened to you?