Of Gratis: Midwinter Tales and a Virgin

If you’re following me on Facebook, you will have had an impossible time to get away from this news: there’s an erotic short story collection coming out soon (on the 12th). It’s called Gratis: Midwinter Tales, and it will feature  – among works by eight other extremely talented writers – a brand new story of mine.

About Gratis
In what is hopefully the first of many instalments, a selection of amazing writers have bundled together some of their short stories to create an anthology which will be made available free of charge just in time for the Holidays.

Snow Falls Softly by Chloe Thurlow, In the Mood by E.A. Chapterhouse, Wicked Games by Elizabeth Woodham, Virgin by L. Moone, White (Lights Out) by Jason Jaxx, A Pair Well Met, Blinked, and The New Year Dancers by Kay Jaybee, The Future First Lady of France by KM Dylan, Irrecusable by Livilla Sanders, Glove, and A Penheligon Christmas by M.J. Carey.

Virgin (The Rebound List #1)

The idea for this story has been months in the making, a girl in her 20s who is single for the first time in her adult life, exploring a few of the fantasies she has had to shelve while playing the squeaky-clean committed girl friend. See the blurb below:

After nearly four years with Jeff, everything fell apart. I found myself single, scared, but somehow liberated as well. Rather than stumble into another ill advised relationship, my best friend Sally helped me find focus. I would spend the next few months “finding myself” sexually. That’s how The Rebound List was born.
And -this- is how my journey begins: with a virgin. Number one on my naughty bucket list…

What (or whom) would you do to celebrate your freedom after your first serious relationship breaks down?

As this is only part one of what I’m expecting to become a four part story, the follow-up is already in progress. To stay up-to-date with its release as well as any others I have planned, why not sign up to my mailing list.

At First Sight – Something a Bit Different

Inspiration hit me recently to write something a short story about a couple, Alice and Scott, who are in love but have never actually met. It’s a bit different in the sense that it’s non erotic, and also I’ve allowed myself to experiment with various points-of-view and tenses.

The subject of distance/online relationship fascinates me because indeed there can be quite a disconnect between how someone presents themselves vs. reality (yes, I LOVE watching Catfish on MTV for the same reason). But the driver behind the story is something which perhaps most of you don’t know about me (yet):

I have been that girl, standing in an airport arrivals area, waiting for someone to come out whom I felt I knew completely, yet had never met in person before. I was sixteen at the time and he was twenty-one. We’d “known” each other for a year and a few months. It was the scariest day of my life.

Our first meeting turned into a second six months later and that summer, after graduating from High School, I decided to move halfway across the world to be with him permanently. The relationship fell apart after a few years, but that’s OK. I was so young, it would’ve been weirder if it had worked out.

If you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll receive a FREE copy of At First Sight. Sign up here.

Sexual Bucket List- What’s your score?

Last night, over some (a lot of) wine, I noticed a link on Facebook. This link.

Some of the items on that list seemed a bit boring, so I decided to create my own personalised version. Now I’m not saying that I’ve done all of the below (there’s still time), but let’s just say I’d score 30.

1. Kiss a girl & Like it
2. Masturbate in public
3. Masturbate with someone else present who didn’t notice (or at least they didn’t let on), extra points if it was a parent.
4. Use a friend’s pic on FB as “(s)inspiration”
5. Have a wet dream about someone you’re not romantically involved with
6. Sleepy / passed out sex
7. Let your partner sleep with someone else
8. Watch
9. Sleep with someone else with your partner’s permission
10. Food play
11. Strap on sex
12. Masturbate in front of a friend
13. Sex in the bath, perhaps realising it’s so not worth getting bruised knees over
14. Finger a guy & make him like it
15. Develop a fetish you don’t want to tell anyone about
16. Threesome
17. Sex somewhere outdoors where you could be discovered at any moment
18. Have a Tumblr feed which should never be opened in the presence of workmates / anyone, ever
19. Post a questionable picture on Facebook and pretend it never happened
20. Sell sex toys online
21. Realise selling sex toys online is a crap business idea
22. Write your fantasies down and charge people for them
23. Have a fake identity nobody knows about
24. Honeymoon sex
25. All the positions in the Kamasutra
26. Pregnant sex
27. Unsafe sex, because you simply couldn’t help it
28. Cybersex
29. Confess your deepest, darkest desires to someone, even the really icky ones
30. Draw blood (accidentally?)
31. Do a virgin
32. Age gap, extra points if over 10 years
33. Make up / break up sex
34. Get spanked for being a bad, bad girl and resist urge to spank back
35. Cry during an orgasm

What would you score?

Friday Filth 5

This Friday Filth teaser is from British Champions, the sequel to Ladies’ Day (so you might want to start there if you haven’t read it yet…) UPDATE 2019: Ladies’ Day and British Champions have since been combined into the novella Beautiful Stranger. 

“You’re special. Let me show you how special…” He peels my top off slowly, kissing any skin as soon as it’s exposed.

I smile at him, a little more reassured about our situation than before and completely ready for a good, hard reconciliation. When he makes me feel the way I do right now, how can I worry about what may or may not happen in future? Here and now, everything feels right.

With one hand in his hair, I try to guide him towards my nipple which so far he is carefully avoiding; kissing and teasing only the surrounding skin. I impatiently start unbuttoning his shirt before lifting myself and quickly taking my own top off too.

“In a hurry?” He grins, I just give him a look that says it all.

He leans on one arm and takes my wrist with his other hand. Before I know it, he pins first one arm back against the armrest of the sofa, and then the other. I’m helplessly spread and his appreciative gaze tells me he likes it this way.

“I want to touch you…” I beg.

He shakes his head and kisses me firmly, gathering both my hands together before I have the chance to regain my composure. His lips make me weak. I can’t take my eyes off his face but quickly get distracted when his free hand finds its way down between us, massaging my thighs from the outside in. Getting ever closer to where I really want to be touched.

I let out a moan and he leans in for a further taste. His tongue slips into my mouth the very moment his hand moves past the waistband of my pants.

“How wet you are,” he groans against my lips.

The Great Purge of 2013

Censorship. Remind you of anything? When I hear the word censorship, my mind conjures up images of China, who still insist that Tibet never existed as a separate entity from China. In the (non totalitarian, democratic) West, we tend to think that censorship does not affect us. Sadly, it does, and it’s not necessarily governments wielding all the power either.

Last week, it was pointed out that there are some particularly seedy books out there being sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, among others. We’re talking rape porn, (pseudo)incest and other such things which any reasonable person might consider to be going a bit far.

I’m not saying that this makes removing such material acceptable, but OK. These themes go beyond than what you’d expect to see in the average Harlequin romance. It was said that these (self published) books are polluting what (“Oh think of the children!”) one might come across even when searching for fairly innocuous terms on Amazon. I think that is a fair observation, and one which probably everyone who buys or publishes ebooks, especially in the romance / erotica categories had already made for themselves.

But apparently, all this was news to the UK bookshop WHSmith, who had a panic attack and shut down their entire ebook website, leaving up a disclaimer proudly explaining they would root out the evil that is self published books and return only once their catalogue would be squeaky clean and innocent. Note that they didn’t say they would remove all these unacceptable books which technically already weren’t allowed as per the terms of their partner, Kobo, which feeds ebooks to the WHSmith website.

They state they would remove self published books, because clearly, all self published books are vile pornography.

Meanwhile, Amazon and Barnes & Noble haven’t been standing by idle. They also have started to do a bit of knee jerking and grandstanding to demonstrate how awesome they are when it comes to protecting their sometimes younger customers (although why the hell would you have younger customers when it’s necessary to own a credit card before being able to purchase books?) from inappropriate content. I have yet to hear about traditionally published, sometimes classic works of literature being censored for containing some of the themes which are off limits. Apparently all these things are perfectly alright when it comes to “proper” books. But self publishers are fair game, because self publishers do not have the might of a large publishing house’s legal team behind them.

But you might say, fair enough. We don’t want to live in a world where one can buy rape porn for Kindle! OK, fine. This was anyway already against the rules and authors publishing such things knew they were on thin ice. The trouble is that nobody has the manpower to go in and actually check what they’re removing. Instead Amazon et al are relying on automated software going through book listings and deleting things based on unknown parameters. I’ve heard of loads of books being removed which contained nothing unacceptable.

Last time I checked, erotica in itself wasn’t considered wrong, was it?

While personally none of my stuff has been removed from Amazon or B&N (yet), the same cannot be said for Kobo. All my books, except for Just Another Day at the Office (the full novel version) have become unavailable on Kobo. For anyone who’s read my work, you already know that I’m not even that hardcore. Not even controversial. That’s not all though, there are reports online from numerous self published authors who have seen their work in other genres disappear; fantasy, sci fi, mystery, anything really. Things that don’t even mention the word “sex”.

(Understandably), this pissed me off, so I decided to email them to express my concerns. Since I don’t believe in writing anything in an email to a faceless customer service department what I wouldn’t say to someone’s face, I’m publishing my email below for everyone’s benefit. When (if!) I get a response, I’ll share it here as well.

Kobo, you disappoint us. We expected to be stabbed in the back by Amazon who continue to change their rules without bothering to tell their authors. We did not expect this from Kobo who had consistently presented itself as an ebook retailer who actually cares about authors. Well done.

After a weekend away from the PC I woke up to some controversy surrounding censorship of certain particularly taboo Erotica books, especially self published ones. This led me to check my listings on Kobo and I found to my surprise I found that a significant proportion of them have vanished, even though they’re still showing as live in the back end. The point is, I do NOT write about any unacceptable types of sex or relationships; it’s mostly steamy romance between ordinary people, not step-siblings or anything else weird. There’s not a horse in sight either and nobody is doing their teenage babysitter. The best part is, one of the books you seem to have censored does not even contain any actual sex.

I’d appreciate an explanation and expect to see my books back on sale shortly after you realise that this was all just a big mistake.

Warm regards,

****** ********

15 October 2013, 6:39am BST

I woke up this morning to an email from Kobo’s Mark Lefebre (Director of Self Publishing / Author Relations which I presume everyone who uses Kobo’s WritingLife platform should have received as well. While it smells of shooting first and asking questions later, at least they are now trying to explain themselves and what they’ve done.

To our Kobo Writing Life and self-publishing partners:

As you may be aware, there has been a significant amount of negative media attention in the UK regarding offensive material that became available across a number of eBook platforms. Kobo was included in the reports from media and we are taking immediate action to resolve an issue that is the direct result of a select few authors and publishers violating Kobo’s content policies.

In order to address the situation Kobo is taking the following steps:

1.       We are removing titles in question from the Kobo platform.

2.       We are quarantining and reviewing titles to ensure that compliance to our policies is met by all authors and publishers. We will ensure that content meeting the policy is made available online as soon as possible.

3.       We are reviewing our policies and procedures to implement safeguards that will ensure this situation does not happen in the future.

We are working hard to get back to business as usual, as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.

Our goal at Kobo is not to censor material; we support freedom of expression. Further, we want to protect the reputation of self-publishing as a whole. You have our promise that we will do all we can to ensure the exceptions that have caused this current situation will not have a lasting effect on what is an exciting new channel that connects Readers to a wealth of books.


Mark Lefebvre

Director, Kobo Writing Life

Mark, if you had no idea before about the sort of material which “a select few authors and publishers” have been publishing on your platform, and it takes a news article to act on it, you’re quite naive indeed. Meanwhile, all my books, except one are still offline.

25 October 2013

I’ve received an email from Kobo, with further information about what’s going on and the promising underlying tone that everything is either sorted or getting close to being sorted.

A Kobo Writing Life Update

I’d like to give our authors a quick update on Kobo Writing Life in the UK and elsewhere.

As you may be aware, in the face of some fairly intense media scrutiny, we launched a major review of the books we offer for sale to make sure they comply with our content policy on offensive material. We cast a wide net across our catalogue that included genres and books coming from self-published authors, aggregators, and publishers, and we quarantined many of these while we conducted the review which made them unavailable in the UK during that time. The review had to happen fast, and we didn’t enjoy it, but with our esteemed 300-year-old retail partner on the front page of major newspapers and some content clearly in violation of our posted standards, we needed to move quickly. Almost everyone on the Kobo Content Team, spread across a dozen countries and time zones, was involved at one point or another. The urgency was driven by our desire to make sure we were running a store that met our own expectations and equally by the need to get our authors back up and available for sale again in the UK as fast as possible.

The good news is that the vast majority of self-published Kobo Writing Life titles are once again available on Kobo.com in the UK, with most authors experiencing a gap of only a few days before their books were once again in the catalogue. As well, we have been working closely with our self-publishing aggregation partners. Most of their titles are once again available in the UK or will be in the coming hours. If your book is still unavailable and you think it shouldn’t be, send a message to writinglife@kobo.com and the team will get on it.

For those few titles that remain unavailable, some feel that we chose a path of censorship. All I can say is that if your dream is to publish “barely legal” erotica or exploitative rape fantasies, distribution is probably going to be a struggle for you. We aren’t saying you can’t write them. But we don’t feel compelled to sell them. And yes, many titles live in a grey zone with far more shades than the fifty that sold so well in the past year, but that is what makes this all so challenging and so interesting. Many of our readers have no problem with an erotic title in their library next to their romance, literary fiction, investing or high-energy physics books. And we are here for the readers, so erotica stays, a small but interesting part of a multi-million-title catalogue, in all of its grey-shaded glory. My thanks go out to Mark Lefebvre and the whole Kobo Writing Life team and to all of our authors who have been so supportive and understanding in the past two weeks. We will continue to work on reviewing processes and author education about what we can take and what we can’t. It will never be perfect, but our belief continues to be that if we focus on readers and growing our business around them, we will get it right much more often than not.

Sincerely yours,
Michael Tamblyn
Chief Content Officer

Perhaps mine aren’t a big priority, but they were offline at the time I received that email. And today, on October 29 while I’m updating this blog post, that situation hasn’t changed. Time to send them a little email…


Exclusivity or not; are other retailers worth it?

Like many self published authors, I have spent a lot of time wondering whether KDP Select is worth bothering with or not. Is it really worth signing up for exclusivity, just to get 5 Free Promo days per 90 days? When I started, I signed up for it and tried it out. It worked, at least to some extent. I was able to get word out there about my books by making use of the Free Promo days.

Then I finished writing my serial, Just Another Day at the Office, and decided that the first part should always be free. If you’ve ever looked into how to do this, you’ll be aware that the ONLY way of making Amazon give a book away for free permanently, is to upload it elsewhere, set the price to zero and wait for Amazon to price match. That’s what I did; I uploaded my books everywhere I could possibly figure out how, and made part one free.

Now I feel it’s time to evaluate whether branching out has been the right decision. I put my royalty income from all sales platforms over the past 1 year into a spreadsheet and was quite surprised by what I found out. Obviously Amazon is by far the biggest source of royalties, but I found unexpected stats for some of the smaller outlets.


I have been on Amazon longer than anywhere else, so this breakdown may change over time. Also, the above chart was made off of royalty income. This is an important point to note: The majority of my work sells for $0.99 which means I get only 35% royalty at Amazon. Some of the other outlets pay better at that price level, meaning that they form a larger share of my royalty income, compared to actual books sold compared to Amazon.

Another thing to note is the Smashwords segment in the chart; it represents almost exclusively sales via Barnes & Noble. My work is not yet available on Apple, but when it does, I expect income from Smashwords to grow significantly.

The two surprise entries are Google Play and All Romance Ebooks. Ever since I entered those two markets in April this year, sales have steadily been going up, seemingly unhindered by seasonal slumps or other variations. I expect that at least Google sales will continue to grow as it’s a significant potential market; just imagine what would happen if the majority of Android phone and tablet owners started to really take Google Play serious for their book purchases. I believe we’re now just at the beginning and provided they don’t fuck up, Google could become a force to be reckoned with.

BTW, if you prefer to look at percentages rather than colourful pie charts, the breakdown is as follows: Amazon 68%, Smashwords 14%, Google 10%, All Romance Ebooks 6% and Kobo 2%.

Why I’m not chasing Agents and Publishers

Recently I noticed some joyous announcements from friends on Facebook who managed to get their books signed by publishers. Some managed to catch the attention of a smaller press, some were signed by bigger names. While I’m pleased for them and what they’ve achieved, all of this got me thinking as well. Should this be a goal for me?

Once I’ve worked really hard finishing a new story or novel, should I then send it around agents and publishers, hoping that one of them will like it and make me an offer? If I am not dreaming of being picked up by a large publishing company who will put my book into every supermarket and every big book store, does that mean I’m not serious? I came into this world last year upon learning about self publishing and getting very excited by the possibilities ahead. Seeing my book on a shelf in a store has not been a lifelong dream of mine, I just write because I’m feeling a story and there is no other logical way for it to materialise.

Sure, there are advantages to getting a publishing contract; they’ll sort out some of the practical stuff like getting a cover made, editing and proofreading. They’ll format the book for me and handle distribution. BUT: they won’t sell my book for me, they won’t put a huge marketing plan in place because I’m not a household name. While I suppose they might possibly get my book reviewed somewhere or other, they won’t make me a bestseller unless I’m very, very lucky. I’d still have to promote my book, try to get attention on social media and all of that other stuff which I’ve got to do on my own as well.

And, even if I ignore for a moment that I’d get a smaller percentage of royalties from each sale, what I’d lose is my independence and flexibility. If I find a typo in one of my books now, I can simply open the file on my computer, make a correction and upload the new version within a few minutes. If I feel that the price is hindering sales, I can put it up or down at will.

If any of you disagree, feel free to let me know, but I don’t think I have a problem with formatting in either ebook or print formats. They look professional to me (Thanks, WriteHit.com). If I finish a story or a sequel to a story, I can run it by some beta readers and subject to their feedback put it out into the world within a few days to a week. With a publisher, it could take a year. I can’t keep readers happy if there is a one year delay between me finishing a book and a publisher releasing it for sale, and that would stress me out.

Possibly this post is more interesting to other (indie) authors rather than readers, but I just felt like expressing this opinion. Who knows, maybe in a year or so I’ll change my mind and start searching for a publisher. But for now – as much work as it is – I’m enjoying my freedom, even the fact that I have to keep track of what version of which book I’ve uploaded to which retailers (and believe me, that gets quite overwhelming at times). I like checking my sales figures every so often and see results perhaps after doing a giveaway or interview. And I even enjoy having to do or outsource my covers and formatting. It adds to the satisfaction of actually creating something, beyond words on a computer screen.

Let’s ignore the Royal bloody Baby for just a moment

Disclaimer: I know I am breaking my own rule of not getting vocal about politics, but hey, I couldn’t help myself. It is also about politics in the UK. I promise I won’t feel bad if everyone ignores my little rant below…

Since yesterday I’ve been having a hard time keeping quiet. In between all the excitement about a baby being born which in no way affects any of us really, David Cameron made a confusing announcement which was covered by my radio station of choice in just one sentence: “David Cameron plans to block internet porn by means of an ‘opt-in’ system” or thereabouts. On my drive to and from work, I only half listen to the news bulletin usually, but this made me wake up; hang on, he’s doing what, now? This deserves further research…

In short, as far as I could gather, David Cameron is trying to save our children from being corrupted by the great evils of internet pornography. Oh and to make him look like a total hero, let’s toss around the terms rapists, paedophiles and child porn a few times so everyone will automatically agree with his plans. In fact this proposed measure is not (just) about blocking access to child porn or videos of abuse. He wants the entire internet to by default be the happy, fluffy, child-safe zone it has never been. But only with regards to sex. Violence and hate mongering is still fine even for children to see, apparently. He is conveniently failing to mention the occasional decapitation video which is probably quite a bit more traumatising to children than your average cumshot.

While I guess most people might agree that children should not accidentally be able to stumble across (child) porn, his plans of making ISPs implement a filter which is meant to block access to anything and everything adult in nature is ridiculous. Not only has he gone around calling his wonderful idea an “opt-in” system which if you don’t pay attention sounds great. Only if you listen carefully do you realise that you don’t “opt in” for the filter, you get the filter by default. You need to “opt in” to porn. Great. So you will need to contact your ISP, tell them you’re a pervert who likes to look at adult material, and ask for the filter to be turned off.

Dave, you cunt, that’s called opting OUT, not in!

Also, I like to think I’ve seen my fair share of the internet, starting from when I was young, impressionable and still in school. I can’t recall often finding myself in the situation where I’m looking for say a recipe or a book review, and accidentally encountering a video of someone getting it up the ass. If I want to see that sort of thing, I have to specifically search for it.

The first thing that crossed my mind was: wonderful, so every ISP will have a neat little record of all the deviants who asked for the filter to be turned off. How handy, since more than likely any potential rapists or child molesters are likely to be amongst those who would like their porn back, so those can perhaps more easily be monitored. The second thing I thought was, but filters don’t work, do they? As clever as technology has become, even Google can’t figure out how to eliminate false positives and adult content with seemingly innocent descriptions being misclassified by child safe filters. What hope do the mere humans at the ISPs have? (On a side note, would you like to see a wonderful example of filtering gone wrong in action? Open up Tumblr on your mobile and try searching for “gay” or “bisexual”. Yep. No results. Just why they would assume that all gay and bisexual content is unacceptable/pornographic in nature is beyond me.) Also, does anyone think it would take the average horny teenager more than 5 seconds to bypass the filter? I think not.

Of course mentioning the phrase “child porn” is getting especially Daily Mail readers very excitable. Why and how can anyone oppose such a thing when child porn is so very obviously evil? Listen up, dickheads, child porn is already illegal to watch, possess and distribute.

We do NOT need any more laws to ban it!

And remember when we hear those stories, of those shitty totalitarian regimes we’re so pleased we don’t have to live in, banning random things they don’t like online? How the internet in China for example only gives you the squeaky clean version of how Tibet isn’t actually Tibet but has always been part of China and the locals just love it that way? Remember how we feel relieved that we in fact have a free, uncensored internet which doesn’t just represent the assholes who happen to be in charge of the country?

Yeah. Not for long. The slippery slope argument gets dragged out for a lot of things nowadays, but is it really so far fetched to think that what our wonderful government stands for today might change a few elections from now? What if they’d like to filter out a little bit more then?

This whole situation is a big clusterfuck, and I’m not even going into the fact that while Cameron has been out congratulating himself for being our moral protector, his government is responsible for cuts to organisations which support victims of abuse.

Fucking Tories. Screw this, I’m going home.

Friday Filth 4

It’s only obvious that I’ve chosen Just for One Night (UPDATE 2019; this story was since expanded upon and re-published as One Night Stand) to pick a teaser from for Friday Filth this week; Get your copy FREE from Amazon (US, UK) until Saturday 15th June 2013!

A glint appears in his eyes and before I can wonder what he’s thinking he firmly grabs both my wrists. He turns onto his back and I’ve no choice but to be dragged along.

“You interrupted me last night, it’ll not happen again.” His deep voice is not one to argue with.

He lets go of my hands and instead lifts me up from under my armpits. My legs spread, surrounding him, but he’s not satisfied with me yet.

“Sit on me,” he says.

“But I already am…”

He shakes his head, dragging me upwards by hooking his hands through the bend of my knees. A smile forms on his lips when I begin to understand and crawl further upwards, finally ending up covering his face.

It wasn’t the drink that made this so amazing the first time around. He does know exactly what to do, but more than that it’s obvious he enjoys this as much as I do.

The moment his tongue reaches my clit I am positive that whatever happens between us, it’ll be a fun ride. I’m taken over by waves of pleasure, starting small like a little itch scratched in just the right manner, then growing in intensity.

The Best Idea Ever

This little teaser came to me as a random idea, but has since grown into my second novel, The Rebound List. 

The first real warning sign that our relationship was doomed was a few weeks prior to our fourth anniversary. During a chat with Sally – one of my closest friends – she speculated whether or not Jeff might propose to me.The thought filled me with dread. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate him. I actually kind of still loved him but the idea that this was all that life had in store for me was incredibly depressing. There was more I had to do; more experiences I was yet to have.

Was he really planning to propose? I certainly hoped not because I couldn’t accept. No way. And I have always hated confrontations, so having to say ‘no’ was an extremely unpleasant prospect.

In a way, finding the inappropriate emails from him to his ex had been a relief. A chance to make a relatively clean break without having to confess uncomfortable truths. I moved out within a month and found myself free but also apprehensive about what might be in store for me next. Would I find what I had been missing?

I certainly wouldn’t make the same mistakes as in the past. Starting a new relationship on the rebound, not fully celebrating my new-found freedom were definite ‘no-no’s. I needed a plan to figure out when I would be ready to settle down. A means of measuring whether I had lived single life to the fullest. That’s how the list was born.

To Do:
Hook up with a stranger
Have a threesome (ideally mmf)
Do it in the office, outdoors and after getting completely sloshed
Have others watch
A silver fox
A virgin