Archive for May, 2013

May 31st, 2013

Life in the Big City (and Elsewhere…)

bootsI am delighted to have a story featured today at The Erotic Woman! Originally published last year in the anthology One Night Only, edited by Violet Blue, my story “City Girl” is up now for free reading at TEW. It’s invariably been such a pleasure to be published at TEW, and I’m honored to be appearing there again.

I am also, ironically, in my hometown right now, which served as a fair amount of inspiration for this particular story. :) All sex aside (though don’t worry—it’s definitely in the story!), the state fair was a big part of my summers when I was growing up, and I’ve still been known to miss being here when it takes place. I really enjoyed writing this story a couple years ago, and I’m thrilled that it’s now available online. Big thanks to The Erotic Woman for putting it there!

Love,
Emerald

My lips parted, and instinctively I took a step toward him. There were 25 yards separating us, but I noticed nothing that was between us as my gaze locked in on him like a laser. It was a focus I didn’t even feel like I controlled; it was simply how I looked at people I wanted to fuck.
-from “City Girl”

May 29th, 2013

Recommended Reading #151: Raising Awareness



      “Adventures in Silicone” by Ned Mayhem (Sex Toys, Health and Body, Economics, Sex and Culture) 5/25/13

I find this just extraordinary—filled with salient information, illuminating insight, and deep relatability.

***

      “Hospital Mergers Reset Abortion-Access Battle” by Kirk Johnson (Reproductive Rights, Health and Body, Politics) 5/12/13

I’ve long been aware of this issue as a reproductive rights activist, and I’m glad to see it getting attention in the media. However one feels about it, it seems relevant to me that people are aware of it.

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      “Miserable & Magical: A Graduation Speech for Paradoxical Times” by Nipun Mehta (Non-Sex-Related, Self-Awareness, Consciousness, Oneness) 5/27/13

I don’t know what to say about this except to please ask anyone reading this to read it. And to quote from it: “When we give, we think we are helping others.  That’s true, but we are also helping ourselves.  With any act of unconditional service, no matter how small, our bio-chemistry changes, our mind quiets, and we feel a sense of gratefulness.  This inner transformation fundamentally shifts the direction of our lives.”

***

Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

May 24th, 2013

I’m at the Romance Lives Forever Blog Today!

RLF-BadgeI’m very excited today to be featured on the Romance Lives Forever (RLF) blog! RLF, run by MFRW founder Kayelle Allen, features multitudes of books and authors and is definitely the place to visit if you like to read romance. As my readers are likely aware, I’ve not tended to write romance very often, but I do have a few erotic romance tales out there. :) On the RLF blog today I’m talking about my story “The Beast Within,” found in Lustfully Ever After: Fairy Tale Erotic Romance, which is edited by Kristina Wright and was published by Cleis Press last year. I also mention my favorite kind of pizza and what I think my halo would look like if I had one. :)

It’s really an honor to be on RLF, and big thanks to Kayelle for inviting me!

Speaking of MFRW (Marketing for Romance Writers, for anyone not aware), they have their go-to annual event, MFRW Summer Camp, coming up in July. If you’re not a member of MFRW and want to take part, you may certainly join now, and then watch for my Taste of Summer Camp post slated to go live here on June 20 with more information (as well as a recipe from me)!

In the meantime, find me here today at the Romance Lives Forever blog!

Love,
Emerald

It may seem somewhat ironic given that I write erotica, but the most autobiographical things in my stories tend to be the non-sexual things. Since it seems to me almost anything can be a backdrop for sex, I’ve often used non-sexual aspects of life with which I have experience or feel I know something about and combined them with sexual tension and/or interaction.
-from my interview at Romance Lives Forever

May 22nd, 2013

Recommended Reading #150: Humanity and Inspiration, Pt. VII



      “Masculine and Feminine” by Inspiration Community (Non-Sex-Related, Gender, Spirituality/Consciousness, Self-Awareness) Undated

This simply strikes me as a beautiful description of feminine and masculine energies and the (to me, obvious) recognition that both are present—and well worth appreciating and developing—in all of us.

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      “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal” by Naomi Shihab Nye (Non-Sex-Related, Spirituality/Consciousness, Self-Awareness) 4/24/13

Beautiful.

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      “Margaret Thatcher, the Cosmos and Me” by T. Thorn Coyle (Non-Sex-Related, Spirituality/Consciousness, Self-Awareness) 4/9/13

I love this piece. While I won’t say that every single word of it precisely resonates with how I experience, one of the things I love most about it is that I feel it offers things most of us don’t consciously recognize very often. It speaks Truth to which we are usually oblivious. The value I see in that is infinite.

***

Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

May 20th, 2013

Dildology: Grassroots at Its Best

Fundraiser1

During the process of acquiring my academic degrees in politics, I learned a fair amount about grassroots organizing. I feel truly confident in saying that what I’m blogging about today strikes me as grassroots at its best. A few inspired, motivated people saw a circumstance that wasn’t(/isn’t) serving the population of which they are a part, and they converged to formulate a plan to address and take action on it. As with most grassroots endeavors, funding is needed—which is why I’m happy to take part in the first blog carnival fundraiser for Dildology.org today.

When I started working as a webcam model several years ago, I had been writing erotica just long enough to have been exposed to Violet Blue and correlative sources I considered credible in sex education and sexual health (most notably Good Vibrations, whose online magazine had also published my work). I was certainly no expert, though; I had heard this word “phthalates” and that it was in a lot of sex toys and that contact with it wasn’t particularly good for you.

Because I’m neurotic about very cognizant of germs, I did careful research to make sure I was getting toys that could be unambiguously sterilized. I somehow learned enough to be aware that a toy that was 100% silicone was not going to have phthalates in it, and I understood I could sterilize it too. (This is because, as I understand it, it is nonporous, which is what one generally wants one’s sex toys to be). Glass appeared to be the same way.

Thus, because I just barely knew enough to discern credible sources and reputable sellers, I managed to procure quality sex toys on my first try, purchasing a silicone dildo direct from Tantus and a glass one from Good Vibrations. (I’ve since added a few from the highly-recommended njoy line to my collection.)

Unnervingly, however, had I not already been exposed to the high-quality information from educators and retailers in the community whose company I am so glad to now keep, knowing I should get a toy made of 100% silicone might not have been enough. Because manufacturers of sex toys, or what are sometimes called “novelties,” aren’t required to follow standards of accuracy when listing the materials in their toys.

In other words, they may lie.

That’s because there is no official oversight of the sex toy industry. In a way, this does not surprise me. At this juncture, our culture seems to have a hard time acknowledging sexuality in any kind of a sincere, curious, or grounded way; if it is not imbued with disturbing and arbitrary puritanical standards, it tends to be at best treated with avoidance and/or pubescence and generally not recognized as a subject to take seriously.

As may be obvious, it is a subject I take seriously. Delightfully, I am not alone—the three individuals behind the brand-new nonprofit organization Dildology.org take it seriously enough that they are ready to put their time and attention into helping the public understand what is in the sex toys they’re using on/in their bodies.

From Dildology’s stated mission:

Dildology.org intends to provide material verification services and maintain a public database of the results, adding transparency and oversight to the industry while educating the public about the science behind pleasure products. We stand on our own, uninfluenced, and we are dedicated to protecting the health and wellbeing of the dildo-loving population at large through education (and maybe a little entertainment).

Phthalates, which I mentioned earlier, are prominent in some sex toys. They are, incidentally, not allowed in children’s toys in the U.S.—by order of a government regulation. That makes me not really feel like I want them in a product that is touching and going inside my body either. And phthalates aren’t the only potentially harmful material sex toys may contain. There’s a reason I included this post from Dangerous Lilly, one of Dildology’s founders, in a Recommended Reading post back in 2010.

One of the reasons Dildology’s service seems so valuable to me is that, due in large part to the circumstances I lamented above about sexuality/sexual health/sexual pleasure not seeming treated as the venerable subjects I feel they are, it seems to me that some people may feel self-conscious about discussing sex toys and thus not ask those of us who would be more than happy to proffer information about them. To me, this makes Dildology.org even more vital as a central, publicly accessible resource to check the safety and reliability of sex toys and companies. Not only will it provide far more advanced and reliable information about the materials in specific toys than even the extensive research I did, but it will counteract anyone’s unawareness of where to even start looking for such information and/or embarrassment about asking someone who does. I happened to know where to look to find the information I needed. Many people don’t.

Crista, another of Dildology.org’s founders, stated the following about her experience as a buyer for adult stores:

At the same time, I was also having amazing conversations with people about how using sex toys enriched their sex lives. Helping them experience their first orgasms, prolonging partnered sex, revitalizing relationships. How they were falling in love with masturbation, experiencing intense self-esteem boosts from embracing their quest for pleasure. I was purchasing and personally testing every dildo I could get my hands on, going through a transformation of my own sexuality through sex toys.

And of course that makes sense to me. I’m all about this kind of personal sexual revolution and aim to support it myself however I can. While I don’t review or even collect toys very much myself, I appreciate their relevance and potential importance to the sexual journey of many. That, again, is one of the reasons I’m blogging about this today.

dildology200donateAnother is that the kind of reliable testing Dildology.org will be doing is not cheap—which is why I’m participating in this blog carnival to support them in asking for financial donations. In order to remain unbiased, Dildology.org will not be accepting advertising (they will be somewhat like the Consumer Reports of sex toys). Their funding will be coming solely from the grassroots base that supports, appreciates, and benefits from what they’re doing.

My hope is that at this point you feel sparklingly inspired to donate to Dildology.org. :) If you don’t quite yet, please take a look at this list of extra incentives offered in conjunction with your generous donation. All incentives include the products/prizes included in the previous lesser incentive levels as well:

      Donate $25 and get a Dildology spyglass crossbone sticker when the fundraising goal (of $20,000) is reached.
      Donate $50 and get an official “DILDOLOGIST” t-shirt when the fundraising goal is reached.
      Donate $100 to be included on the website’s donor list.
      Donate $250 and choose one of the next products Dildology.org tests.
      Donate $500 to receive naked pictures of the founders. (Note: This is qualified with a parenthetical “maybe” on the site. ;).)

If you use sex toys and care about knowing whether the ones you use are safe for your body, or if you don’t use sex toys and care that people who do know the ones they use are safe for their bodies, you’re our audience. (Welcome. ;)) I hope that you’ll care enough about it to support Dildology.org as they work to get this revolutionary venture off the ground. Perhaps even someday, the sex toy industry as a whole will be accountable to accuracy, health, and quality, and we’ll be that much closer to a world where sexuality is something to appreciate, discuss, and take seriously just like food or medicine or children’s toys. I truly feel this kind of grassroots endeavor is exactly how that starts.

Love,
Emerald

“There’s a fire inside and it started a riot about to explode into flames…”
-30 Seconds to Mars “Hurricane”