My Top 8 Writing Guidebooks

The following books are ones I’ve used and loved as I have developed my style, structure, and writing habits. I write romance, usually with sex and always with a happy ending, and that has certainly effected the writing guidebooks selection. I also have some strong opinions about writing and have chosen books in alignment with those opinions. Lastly, I am a practicing witch and Pagan. All of these things have effected my book selection so I wanted to give you a heads up.

I know I said this post is a Top 8, and it is as far as there are 10 books listed. However, there is no hierarchical order to them. Some of these books are so different I couldn’t really say that one is better than the other, only that they are ones I have gotten a lot out of.

Disclaimer: The following links are affiliate links. That means if you purchase a book via these links I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you, as this money helps me keep SmutGeek running.

5 Favorite Books for Writers

2k to 10k: How to Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What you Love by Rachel Aaron – this book is fabulous but the part that effected me the strongest was her advice for when you’re dreading or not enthusiastic about writing a scene. She points out the obvious – if you’re not excited to write it, no one will be excited to read it so figure out a way to make it exciting for you. You can read the blog post that gave her the foundation for this book here.

Rapid Release: How to Write & Publish Fast for Profit by Jewel Allen. Even if you’re not interested in putting out a novel a month, this book is perfect for getting that book you’ve been writing finished. It’ll help motivate you to write instead of just thinking about writing. If you are thinking about self-publishing and making money, this is a fabulous look at how one author not only did it but helped others to do so.

30 Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to Energize Your Book Sales in a Month! by Rachel Thompson. I believe this book is a MUST HAVE for any author that wants to sell their books and perhaps make a career from their writing. Its a simple, step by step challenge with information about social media, platform building, and more. Also check out How to Best Optimize Blog Posts for SEO by Thompson. She is a fabulous resource in general – check out her website, NaNoProMo, and weekly book marketing chat on Twitter. (BTW, are we friends on Twitter yet?)

Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen. If you are writing a cozy or soft mystery OR just have a mystery as part of your external plot in your story, this is a fabulous book to help you plot out the arc and keep your clues in order.

Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels (How to Write Kissing Books) by Gwen Hayes. By far my favorite book on writing romance whether sweet or steamy. Hayes helped out my writing a great deal by breaking down the romance story arc not only into the 3 act structure but further into 4 parts then into beats. By making sure my writing hit those beats it made the story tighter, flow better, and helped save me from the saggy middle a few times.

3 Magickal Writing Guidebooks

The following books are ones I recommend if you have any interest in witchcraft and combining it with your writing.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot: 33 Days to Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch. A fantastic roadmap on how to use tarot cards to help your novel writing.

A Witch’s Guide to NaNoWriMo by December Fields-Bryant. Spells, rituals, and more to help you in your writing journey.

Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink by Susan Pesznecker. If you can’t seem to get the ideas flowing or focused and want a little magickal aid, this is the perfect book for you.

Want to See How These Books Effected My Writing?

Then check out my books here!

10,000 Words for NaNoWriMo 2019

I hit my first 10,000 Words of NaNoWriMo2019! That means I’m 20% done with my 50,000 word goal revising/rewriting The Billionaire Geek.

10,000 Words for NaNoWriMo
The 10k Writing Badge from NaNoWriMo

To celebrate, I thought I might share a fun excerpt from my book. I read this to Mr. Faust who was very happy with it and followed up by asking me to read more. I took that as a good sign.

To set the tone – my main characters, Becca and Will, are being harassed by a misogynistic scifi fanboy troll named Roy:

Bracing himself but drawn through pure curiosity, Will looked at Roy’s website. There were already two blog posts about the situation, one included a video. He opted to just read about it. The majority of the post was about Becca, pointing out her questionable sex practices based solely on some scenes from her books.

While Jordan’s involvement in strange affairs is no surprise to any of my readers who have followed the last year’s scandals, they are certainly nothing compared to the strange fantasies she puts to paper.
From Elysium Rising
The toys and tools of Sister Kuva’s collection were nowhere near as well honed as her own mind. She would require someone with deft hands and strong will to put her through her paces. Aebram picked up the blades and approached the priestess, the firelight glinting off the steel. He would give her the pain she needed in order to break through the barriers of her training. Using pain, he would make her feel like the woman she longed to be with him.
Kuva gripped the steel bar to which her wrists were bound. Looking up at her beloved, she smiled slowly. “Thank you,” she whispered.
Aebram shook his head. “Thank me later.” He chose the location of the first cut. “Thank me when I kiss it and make it better,” he said as the steel met flesh.

Perhaps instead of taking her to conventions, Jordan should see if Vaughn company could hire her a good therapist?

Glancing up at Becca, Will’s mind went back to the night before. While what they did would probably be considered tame when held up in comparison to most scifi erotica he’d read over the year, it had been kinda kinky. Was Becca a bit of a perv? He wondered at this for a moment then felt guilty for it. Even if she was, it wasn’t any of his or Roy Smith’s business.

/End Excerpt
-Squee!-
I cannot wait to get this book revised and published and out to you all next spring! Act 1 is revised and with another beta reader as we speak!

Thank you all for celebrating this milestone of NaNoWriMo with me! If you are participating in the writing challenge, how are you doing with your goals? What is your favorite line you’ve written? Share below!

World Building Questions for #WriterWednesday

#NaNoWriMo is just around the corner! My #Preptober plotting is starting to look more and more like…I can actually write this! (If you want to learn more about NaNoWriMo and Preptober, click here.) Today I’m working on setting for my queer steampunk romance and thought I might share with you my World Building Questions.

The Importance of Setting the Story

Have you ever read a novel where the location or part of the location felt like a character in itself? Narnia, Hogwarts, Anne Rice’s New Orleans, Stephen King’s Rose Red – all of these locations add interest and depth to the stories being told. If you take any of these locations out of the story, the whole plot falls through. I’d say that is a key to a well established and well written world in a story.

When getting into world building, make sure you use all 5 senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. This builds reality around even fictional locations. It allows readers to fully immerse themselves in the story.
For example: Taste – food is a great thing to focus on even if you aren’t writing a foodie romance. There are stacks of unofficial cook books for Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Narnia, and other series/stories because readers want to eat what they read their favorite characters enjoying.

World Build EVEN IF You’re writing a contemporary novel set where you live. I’d say especially so. This will not only give you a better handle on locations mentioned and used in the story but it can help you avoid flat characters, plot holes, and timeline issues.

On a final note before we get into the questions:
Please avoid White Room issues – where the reader has no idea what the space your characters are in looks like. You might be tempted to let the reader fill in the space with their imagination BUT – if you rely on imagination of your reader…what’s the point of them reading your book? They could just imagine their own if that is the case. Give them the information they need to see the story that YOU are telling!

My World Building Questions

  • When writing a scene, ask yourself how you can incorporate more than one of the five senses.
  • What is the climate of your world?
  • What languages do your characters speak?
  • What is the history? (Don’t stress writing a whole encyclopedia of the history but keep in mind how war, changed in government, etc effects the characters today)
  • What is the currency? Is there an exchange rate between locations?
  • What material goods do the people most value? (gems, oil, gold, lumber, furs, etc)
  • What religion(s) are prevalent?
  • What subcultures does your world have? (This can allow your cultures to not seem shallow. Not every culture has taboos and practices adhered to by all people – this is how subcultures come into play)
  • What foods, spices, and drinks are common?
  • What major bodies of water are nearby?
  • What land formations are nearby? (mountains, plains, canyons, sink holes, beaches)
  • How far is each scene in your story located from the others?
  • What are the character means of transportation?
  • What technology do they have available?
  • What are the major occupations?
  • How does that culture view manual labor?

And Because I Write Erotica

  • How does the culture view sex, sexuality, and gender? (this is a huge part of my current novel)
  • What are the taboos of that region?
  • Are there any laws or formal regulations regarding sex?
  • Sex work is the oldest profession. How are sex workers regarded in this culture?
  • What sex toys and aids are available? What materials are they made of?

World Creation With Characters

The following questions will also help with character development. It gets into the cultures and lifestyles inside of your worlds.

  • What do I need to know about the context of my characters?
  • Do I understand their culture?
  • Do I understand the differences between how they live and how I (the author) live?
  • Do I understand the similarities?
  • Do I understand the rhythms, beliefs, and attitudes of their culture?
  • Have I spent enough time looking at or thinking about different people in that culture to not create a stereotype?
  • Am I familiar with the character’s occupation?
  • Do I know their jargon well enough to use it naturally in the character dialogue?
  • Do I know where my character lives?
  • How does location effect their lives?
  • What are the sounds and smells of where they live? (Remember to use all the senses)
  • Do they have accents?
  • How does location effect their communication?

#WriterWednesday Character Questions

NaNoWriMo is around the corner and one of the things I’m doing for #Preptober (Check out my blog post explaining NaNoWriMi and Preptober here) is working on my characters. After doing a read through of my zero draft, I realized my characters are horribly flat. So I’m answering some Character Questions to try and create relatable, realistic, likeable characters.

Getting Deeper with Shallow Characters

While most character questionaires focus on name, age, zodiac, what they look like, eye color, height, etc (and these are all good things to know in general) I want to focus on questions that dig deeper.

You see, my character issues aren’t due to forgetting Priscilla has red hair or that Teagan is 5 foot 9. My issues are that Priscilla is too naive to live (infantile almost) and Teagan is coming off as a self entitled prick. I have to fix that shit asap and the best way to do that is go back to their core personalities and beliefs.

Perhaps a better title for this blog post is Character Personality Questions or Inner Questions for Fiction Characters.

My Character Questions

  • If I were to describe this character in broad strokes, what would that description be?
  • What paradoxes make my character interesting?
  • What are my characters concerned about?
  • What do/did they want to be when they grew up and how does/did that attitude change or stay the same?
  • Where do they feel safe?

And because I write erotica:

  • How does this character feel about sex?
  • How does this character feel about sexuality and gender – their own and others?
  • How does this character feel about their genitalia or the genitalia of others?
  • What is my character’s hottest fantasy?
  • What is my character’s sexual history?
  • How is this shown in their current sex life and personality?

If you have already written your characters or a good chunk of your book – the following character questions can help in revision:

  • Have I shown a number of qualities my characters have?
  • Have I used attitudes to define my characters?
  • How are their cares/concerns conveyed in their actions?
  • How are their concerns conveyed in dialogue?

My Favorite Preptober Resources

I have announced my NaNoWriMo Project – a queer steampunk romance called Faith and Diplomacy. Now I’m compiling all of my favorite Preptober resources to start plotting and building. I thought I would share them with you all for #WriterWednesday and see if you find them as beneficial as I do.

Disclaimer: Some of the following links contain affiliate codes. This means if you make a purchase using this link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This money helps me keep SmutGeek going. Thank you.

Favorite Books

Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes – I consider this necessary reading for anyone that wants to write romance novels. It really helped clarify a number of issues I was having when plotting my stories.

Ready. Set. Novel! by Chris Baty, Lindsey Grant, and Tavia Stewart. This is the book that got me writing longer stories. I was in college and felt like I would never finish a full length novel and pretty down on myself. After being gifted this book for the holidays I finally felt like I had a tool that would get me through the biggest writing funk I’ve ever been in.

2000 to 10000 by Rachel Aaron. I love Rachel’s books. They’re fast paced, coherent, and the characters feel real. In short – everything I want from a fun read. She has a large library of novels and when I discovered that she had a book that not only taught her writing method BUT how to write faster to get more books out, SOLD! The book is awesome. Many of the tips I’ve never seen in my resource collecting over the years.

Other books that I’ve read that aren’t my favorite but friends of mine love include Stephen King On Writing, Save the Cat Write a Novel, and Write Naked.

Favorite Sites

NaNoWriMo – not only does the site help you keep track of your word count it also has pep talks from best selling authors, forums to chat with other aspiring novelists, and community connections with writers in your area for Preptober and NaNoWriMo meetups. Wanna be Buddies? Friend me

Jami Gold – romance writing spreadsheets, worksheets, and writing craft articles really helped me get a grasp on romance writing and how it differs from my past dabbling in high fantasy and horror.

Scrivener – I adore this writing app. I bought it years ago after winning NaNoWriMo gave me a discount. When I switched to Linux I was disappointed to find they hadn’t really developed the app for that platform. Thankfully, Erkus Be Damned developed the app for Linux users – its even free (until Scrivener eventually decides to develop for this platform if that ever happens). I love this app because it allows me to create and access writing notes without a ton of windows or tabs open. Its what I use for prep and drafting before switching over to Google Docs for finishing draft(s).

Speaking of Scrivener, Romancing the Beat also has a handy dandy Scrivener template.

What are Your Favorite Preptober Resources

Share in the comments some of your best writing resources – books, videos, sites, etc. I’m always on the look out for writing craft tips.

Package Preparations

This is the beginning of the next installation of the Nerdy, Dirty, and Curvy series I’ve been working on. Originally published this glimpse during Smutathon. Despite the dubious ending here, the longer short story had definite happily ever after vibes.

Elodie opened her toy chest and looked over her options. If she was doing a video she would have chosen a newer, showier piece – a huge tentacle dildo or a lightsaber vibrator. But it was just her tonight and the point was to get off not show off. She pushed a few brightly colored items aside and reached for her favorite vibrator. It was one of the first she ever bought but still going strong – a pink, silicone tongue shape about the length of her hand.
Pulling off her shorts, she went to the dresser where she laid out the panties she needed to wear. They were simple white bikini cut with a tiny satin bow in the front. She’d bought them as part of a pack and took pictures for her site but that was the only time she’d worn them. A client was requesting them now, well used.
Taking off the rest of her clothes, she pulled the panties on and plopped onto her bed. It squeaked a little under her – the benefit or take away of having an old fashioned brass bed, depending on how you looked at it. Her cam clients loved the bed. It had a blend of nostalgia and added audio sensory to her porn. Each squeak let them know of her thrusts and movements.
Sprawling out comfortably, she pushed the single button on her vibrator twice to put it on the medium speed setting. Bringing it between her legs, she teased her pussy lips through the crotch of her white panties. It didn’t take long to tease her clit and labia into tingling attention.

Closing her eyes, Elodie brought up an old memory. It was from years ago, but the first time she fooled around with a girl was still a memory that got her off even now.
Circling, her clit with the vibe she let herself relax into it.

It was the year before she started college. Newly adults, she and her best friend were doing the things they enjoyed most – gaming, watching anime, and chilling out in Vanna’s basement. Vanna was butch, nerdy, and adorable in a way that sadly few people seemed to noticed. Few people other than Elodie, that is.
Vanna was playing a video game, a new one that she was eager to beat but years later Elodie would forget the name of. Elodie was sprawled on the old sofa, drinking Mountain Dew and watching her friend. Both were avoiding the conversation that was on their minds – soon they would be splitting up. Vanna was accepted into MIT and Elodie was going to Berkley. A nation between them after years of being practically inseparable.

Sliding off the couch, Elodie joined Vanna in the floor, sitting close enough their knees and elbows touched. “Anything you wanna do before you leave for school?”
Vanna pushed her glasses up and ran a hand through her chin-length hair that always looked like it needed brushed. “I dunno. Might hit Jay’s shop a last time and give him shit for not letting me see his Suspense Comics number 3 he claims he has but everyone knows he doesn’t.”
Biting her lip, Elodie leaned in so their shoulders touched.
“Why, what about you?” Vanna asked, glancing at her with a raised brow.

If it had gone down years later, when Elodie was more immersed in consent culture as a sex worker, she would have asked first. As it was, she was too scared to think twice when she kissed her best friend.
Vanna’s lips were chapped and she tasted like orange soda. These were the things Elodie remembered vividly as she stroked her vibrator against her dampening panties.
At first, Vanna sat their stunned. When Elodie pulled back, barely an inch, they stared at each other and Vanna’s glasses fogged slightly with their breath.
Before Elodie could apologize for her impulsiveness, Vanna leaned in and did the unthinkable – she kissed Elodie back.

The first kisses were hesitant and exploratory. It wasn’t Elodie’s first kiss. That had been Tommy Kemp behind the bleachers in junior high. Tommy’s kiss was open mouth and slobbery. Vanna’s was softer than that.
When Elodie opened her mouth, Vanna responded with nipping her bottom lip. She pulled back and looked Elodie’s face over as to make sure the tiny bite was ok before leaning in to kiss her again. Slowly, Vanna reached up to cradle Elodie’s face in her hand, rubbing her jaw with the pad of her thumb.
Taking a silent queue, Elodie raised her hands to Vanna’s shoulders and neck. She could feel her friend’s pulse in her neck, thrumming harder and faster than the video game sound effects in the background.
Out of breath, Elodie pulled back and smiled.

“How long?” Vanna asked, her voice raspy as she pushed her glasses up from where they’d slid down her nose.
Shrugging, Elodie couldn’t recall a specific time that she knew she wanted her best friend. “Always maybe? Definitely at my sixteenth birthday party.”
Vanna blushed and looked down at her lap.
No one else had showed up to Elodie’s sweet sixteen because that bitch Brittany Marsh told the class Elodie was a slut. Vanna came though. She insisted Elodie have the best night and said they could do whatever she wanted. They ended up sneaking out of Elodie’s house and went skinny dipping in the neighbor’s pool. Vanna had been too shy to take off her underwear but Elodie remembered well how her friend had looked in the dim light from the nearby street lamps.

Package Preparations - Masturbation Monday - underwater pool image of a femme body in a bikini
Masturbation Monday week 265 image by Haiku

“You?” Elodie asked, feeling her nervousness return.
Vanna had shrugged and laughed hoarsely. “Always. Since we were kids.” She had looked so small and vulnerable then. She opened her mouth a few times as if to tell Elodie something else but ended up only shaking her head.
Unwilling to let this go, Elodie leaned in and kissed Vanna’s lips softly. She feathered kisses along Vanna’s jaw to her earlobe. Teasing Vanna’s ear with her teeth, she moved her mouth down along her friend’s neck, making Vanna shiver.
“Elodie,” Vanna had whispered and the memory of her name said so softly with need made Elodie buck her hips towards her vibrator and moan.
Vanna’s hands came up and Elodie half expected her friend to push her away. Instead, they ran over her back, up to her shoulders and down along her collar bone.

“I…can I touch you?”
Sitting up, Elodie had been surprised by the request but definitely not opposed. She smiled and, as she nodded her consent, she grabbed the bottom of her t-shirt and pulled it quickly up over her head. Shaking out her dark curls, she looked at Vanna questioningly.
Vanna only stared at her a moment. Her eyes went down to Elodie’s breasts cupped in her plain white bra. It would be another year before Elodie discovered the fun of lingerie and cute underwear but Vanna didn’t seem to mind the plainness when she raised her fingers up to the edge of the cup.
Raising her hand, Elodie caressed her tits as she recalled how Vanna had touched her – first through the barely padded bra then pulled it down to cup her fully and run her thumbs over her nipples.

“Do you wanna see more?” Elodie asked when she decided to discard her bra.
Wide eyed, Vanna nodded. Elodie stood up and pulled off her jeans and socks then her panties. She remembered already being wet, wetter than she was now, teasing her pussy on her bed. She didn’t shave or wax then but, again, Vanna didn’t seem to mind.
Sitting back down, Elodie leaned in and kissed Vanna again. Their kisses were harder this time, needy. Vanna played with her breasts and, tentatively, Elodie took one hand and brought it down to her inner thigh. Taking the lead from there, Vanna reached between her legs and stroked Elodie’s wet pussy. Like their first kisses, the touch was a gentle exploration of labia and clit. Slowly, she slipped two fingers into Elodie and made her gasp.
“Did I hurt you?” Vanna asked, pulling her fingers out.
Shaking her head, Elodie pushed Vanna’s hand back. “No. It feels good.” It had felt so much better than when Elodie masturbated. She hadn’t expected that.
Vanna’s hands weren’t skilled like Elodie’s later lovers. She didn’t know how to find Elodie’s g-spot or stroke her until she came. But those tentative touches were enough to make Elodie soak her panties with an orgasm years later.
Shaking and arching against her vibrator, Elodie moaned her former friend’s name. The crotch of her panties soaked with cum, making the tip of her vibrator wet as well.

As she came down from her orgasm, Elodie pushed the vibe’s button until it switched off. It was then, in the shaky aftermath, that the rest of the memory came to her.
“Can I?” Elodie had asked, wanting to do the same to Vanna. She pulled at Vanna’s t-shirt, wanting to see her naked too.
Vanna pulled her hands back and looked away as if ashamed. She hesitated and shook her head finally. “I don’t think I can get naked in front of you.”
Elodie hadn’t understood. Suddenly aware and embarrassed of her nakedness, she crossed her arms and covered herself. It made no sense to her. Vanna was skinnier and cute as hell even with the tomboy clothes, bad haircut, and thick glasses.
Before Vanna could find a way to speak up, Elodie pulled her clothes on. She made some excuse, something about needing to meet up with her mom.

Package Preparations - a mailbox with side of a house lawn and driveway in backgroun

Thinking back, she wished she’d tried to make Vanna explain. Why had they kissed? Why had Vanna touched her if she didn’t want her? It was one of only a handful of regrets Elodie had. Like student loans, however, there was nothing she could do about it now.
Sliding her sticky panties off, Elodie slid her fingers over her bare, wet cunt with a sigh. It was just a memory.
Tossing the panties into a pink gift bag, she added a business card with her site info, some logo stickers, and a handwritten note thanking her client for buying and wishing him wet daydreams. This she put into a plain brown box with the discreet return address: ELLO.
Pulling in her ragged shorts and an of t-shirt, she put the small package in her mailbox, lifted the flag and smiled at her morning’s work completed.

Want More?

For more of my Smut, click here.

Smutathon 2019: 12 Hours of Erotica

How much erotic writing could you get done in 12 hours? I’ll be answering this question on Saturday, September 28th, during Smutathon 2019!

Smut for a Cause

Smutathon 2019 - National Network of Abortion Funds logo

The 3rd annual Smutathon will be raising money for the National Network of Abortion Funds. This charity not only funds abortions but also in helps reduce all barriers to accessing abortions (travel, childcare, etc).

One thing I really love about this charity is its focus on intersectionality (so many abortion and reproductive rights organizations focus on women). “A comprehensive vision of justice for our communities must involve working towards economic, racial, gender, and reproductive justice.” – From their website.

Join Us!

Consider donating to the NNAF to help provide needed reproductive health care. Smutathon has an ambitious $5k target. To donate you can choose an amount or type in a custom one.
NNAF is offering a transparent report on where their funds go, btw. “A copy of our latest financial report may be obtained by emailing info@actblue.com or calling (617) 517-7600.” This is great if, like me, you’re anxious about donating to a larger charity organization.

Check out their Get Involved page to find ways to join in by writing for Smutathon 2019 locally (Montreal, CA) or remotely like me.

I’m Nervous, in a good way

If you recall, I tried writing in a smut marathon this year but fell off that goal when life got in the way. Since this event is 1 day only (12 hours actually) I’m feeling more comfortable it.

My hope is I can wrap up some kinky stories I’ve had on the back burner and get them out into your hot little hands soon. I’m talking polyamorous steampunks, geeky billionaire kinksters, and lesbian gamer girls!

Wish me luck, join in the fun, and send motivation cheerleading here in the comments or on twitter!

Ice Cream Lover Review

I grabbed Ice Cream Lover on a whim after seeing its release posts on twitter. It looked cute and I’m a fan of ice cream and erotica so, why not? I am so glad I did! If all you get out of this Ice Cream Lover review is that I loved it and you should read it, I’ll consider my work done (there’s your little spoon for tasting).

Disclaimer: Links used may contain an affiliate code. This means if you purchase the book through this link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This money helps me keep SmutGeek going. Thank you.

Ice Cream Lover Review - book cover featuring male east-Asian model with shirt open and muscular chest and abs.

Book Summary

I hate ice cream. Ever since my fiancée left me at the altar and skewered me in her bestseller “Embrace Your Inner Ice Cream Sandwich: Finding the Positive You in a World of Negativity,” I haven’t been able to stomach the stuff.
Unfortunately, my five-year-old niece is a budding foodie and her favorite place in the world is Ginger Scoops, a cutesy Asian ice cream shop. Since I’ve been looking after my niece a lot lately, I’ve spent too much time there, sipping black coffee, refusing to eat ice cream, and trying not to look at the owner, Chloe Jenkins. Chloe is obnoxiously cheerful, and I can’t stand her.
Naturally, I end up kissing her.
But I’ve sworn off women after the fiasco with my ex-fiancée, and I’m convinced I’m no good at relationships. Still, with Chloe I’m tempted to do the impossible: give love and ice cream another chance…

Ice Cream Lover is the second (stand alone) romance novel in the Baldwin Village book series by Jackie Lau. It is sweet and erotic contemporary romance with a good dose of comedy. The main characters include grumpy cinnamon roll Drew (the narrator of the book’s teaser) and bisexual Chloe who struggles with being mixed race.

The Author

Jackie Lau decided she wanted to be a writer when she was in grade two, sometime between writing “The Heart That Got Lost” and “The Land of Shapes.” She later studied engineering and worked as a geophysicist before turning to writing romance novels. Jackie lives in Toronto with her husband, and despite living in Canada her whole life, she hates winter. When she’s not writing, she enjoys gelato, gourmet donuts, cooking, hiking, and reading on the balcony when it’s raining.

I love that Jackie is an own-voices author and you can really feel her love for her books and characters when you read her Tweets and in her books.

Why I Love This Book

While I love quirky, foodie, erotic romance, I have to admit the thing that made me fall in love with this book is the main character Chloe hooking up with Drew.
As a bisexual cis-gendered woman married to a cis-gendered man, I struggle with my sexual identity. Seeing a character that is bi and enters a committed relationship with someone of the opposite sex, it was heartwarming.
So often bi women in erotica who “become lesbians” or who fool around before going back to their hetero partners and read as non-committal or riding a fence.
It was just really nice to see someone who is somewhat like me. That Chloe’s choosing to enter into this relationship with Drew does not make her less of a bisexual or turn her heterosexual.

Foodie romances are awesome. I love the cozy conversations about flavors of ice cream, meals and desserts shared, and how the whole story revolves around sharing and conversation. It was so relaxing to read and, I admit, it made me grab ice cream and check out some new flavors (and crave some old favorites).

[Ice Cream Lover Review Spoiler alert] I also really liked Drew’s background issues. I have once been that self-help reader who poured over books/movies like Eat, Pray, Love or Under the Tuscan Sun.
Reading Ice Cream Lover and watching the way Drew struggled with being “that guy” who’s failed relationship was smeared all over a book and mainstream media – who was written as a horrible person rather than someone entirely human with good qualities as well as flaws – I thought back to some of the books I’ve read.
Those men talked about in self help books and biographies/memoirs – they were human. We only get to hear one side of their story. Looking back at my own failed relationships I’d certainly hate it if that was poured out on the best seller list and I was made to be some monsterous ex.
It was a very unique take on a character and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

What I Didn’t Love About the Book

It made me spend too much on ice cream…worth it. But no, seriously, if you’re gonna read this book, have a favorite on hand.

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If you enjoyed my Ice Cream Lover Review, be sure to grab your copy and a pint of favorite ice cream.
Comment below what you thought of it and your favorite ice cream flavor!
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Their Troublesome Crush: A Review

Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disable queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.

Their Troublesome Crush Review

I fell in love with Their Troublesome Crush when I saw the cover art. It depicted beautiful art and colors that caught the eye in general but seeing a romance novel that proudly showed not just one but two fat characters, right there on the cover! I squealed in delight and didn’t care who saw me wiggling with happiness. At that point I absolutely had to read this story.

What’s really cool is the author, Xan West, interviewed the artist, Hannah Aroni. It was fabulous to see inside her head a little regarding a cover that will probably be in my top 3 for a very long time.

The Author: Xan West

Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, an autistic queer fat white Jewish genderqueer writer and community activist with multiple disabilities who spends a lot of time on Twitter.
Xan blogs about trans representation in literature, kink, queerness, disability, and writing on this site. Xan also occasionally blogs at other places on the web.

This is not my first Xan West story. I reviewed Best Lesbian Erotica 2019 and their story “Trying Submission” was excellent. Very much worthy of making them a finalist in the John Preston Short Fiction award. You can read my review of that particular story and book (and click through to order your own copy) here.

What I love about West’s books is also the lessons I receive about writing. I am inspired to make my own writing better when I read their work. Just the inclusion of content warnings, cover descriptions for readers that have difficulty seeing, and how they write diversity across the board gets my writer gears turning.

What Did I LOVE About The Book

From the very beginning, I was attracted to the main characters. Ernest is adorable and sweet. I’d have tea with him any day. Nora is sweet switch I am totally digging and I wish I’d met people like this in my early days of BDSM exploration. Even the side characters give me all the warm and fuzzies in their loving care for each other and the main characters.

Unafraid of Fat and Disability

There is a scene in the story where Ernest visits Nora’s home. The space and Nora in it are described beautifully, especially regarding her size. Nora becomes bigger, fatter, more relaxed in her space. The room and furnishings are chosen and arranged to accommodate her size and her mobility issues. Ernest takes all this in, the details are given to the reader unflinchingly without being grotesque. Its how I wish other fat and disabled characters in other books were portrayed – described with love.

Nurturing Care and Access Intimacy

Access Intimacy and Care are what really shine in Their Troublesome Crush that I’ve yet to see in many romances. Not only does West take care to write very real and diverse characters with a variety of needs BUT they also write characters that take care of each other with their needs in mind. My heart grew three sizes when Ernest makes food with their dietary needs in mind.

I’m gonna veer off subject for just a second but one of the first things that endeared this book to me was the very beginning scene when Ernest is trying to decide about ordering cupcakes knowing Nora is diabetic. He can’t decide if ordering the variety of sweet treats would be putting her out or if not ordering them would be stepping on her own autonomy in making decisions about what she can and cannot eat. I nearly cried. I’ve had friends, dates, and family make decisions for me “for my own good” regarding food (I’m not diabetic but this was done regarding other things like my weight and lactose intolerance). Its painful and makes me feel like a child in a not-good way. Seeing a character go over this and choose to allow the other character make decisions for themselves was beautiful and I’m grateful for this scene.

This care goes beyond food and is also revealed in Ernest’s relationship with his Daddy and with his friends. He has very clear, previously discussed, signs when he needs space due to his autism and/or gender dysphoria. His loved ones see these signs, understand that, and act accordingly. This seems simple but its not often I read a book where a Dominant grants the submissive space and its not made into a complicated mess to further the plot line. Instead it shows the love and care between characters, reveals some of their polyamorous connections and understandings, and is just damn real and sweet.

Foodie Fan

I was impressed by the fact that West did not shy away from food in their book, like many stories with fat characters do. In fact, the book is quite the foodie romance. It starts out with cupcakes and moves into dinners, tea service, and more. I could almost sing “These are a few of my favorite things” just with this theme of the book.

The only thing that could have made this over the top even better was recipes for those cupcakes and sandwiches and other treats available in the back of the book. I’d cook up a storm in my kitchen to celebrate this book.

BDSM

Something that West does well in Their Troublesome Crush as well as in their short story, Trying Submission, is show BDSM, specifically the D/s dynamic as well as bondage, without making it overtly erotic.

West keys into something many people don’t always understand about this lifestyle – BDSM isn’t always about sex. You can have a very fulfulling BDSM experience or dynamic without including sex. This is revealed in West’s work without detracting at all from the romance or emotion in the story.
I’d love to see more of this discussed in BDSM romances.

Polyamory

Its so rare that I run into a story that truly shows polyamorous relationships in the variety that they can create. Often what I read is harems or reverse harems or close triads that all start with the main character finding love with all of them from the beginning. Their Troublesome Crush shows two characters, already in a polyamorous relationship as metamours for their shared partner. It also shows how their friends, ex lovers, etc interact with this relationship dynamic.
As a polyamorous person, I believe the characters and relationships were very believable and could see it mirrored in the polyam communities I’ve been part of. Its a complicated ballet that I think West executed perfectly in their writing.

Final Reader Thoughts

West includes a fantastic content warning at the beginning of the book as well as on their site page for Their Troublesome Crush. The following is just an additional bit of input for those wondering if this fantastic novel is right for your bookcase.

It’s not a deterrent from reading the book but Their Troublesome Crush did make me have to do some research. I’m not Jewish and I’m also not all that into showtunes. The story focuses on Pesach (Passover) and the main character, Ernest, is a big fan of show tunes (he’s even writing his own musical). So when there was a reference I didn’t understand, I’d pause my reading and do a little search about it online.

Let me emphasize that this research is not necessary to enjoy the book but I like to fully immerse myself in a story and that meant looking up words I didn’t understand and listening to songs I’d never heard before. This was actually a pretty cool experience and I don’t begrudge the book for it at all.

Bend Over Fan Girl

Content Notice: This piece of erotica is entirely fiction despite references to real events like Free Comic Book Day. Any similarities to real people or places are entirely accidental.
Both characters are of the age of consent despite pet names like “little girl” and neither are related despite the use of the term “Daddy.” Here “Daddy” is not related to the character’s gender but part of their Dominant/submissive roleplay. All actions described are meant to be understood as done with consent. Please enjoy

“I just love your blog.”
Raleigh looked up and forced a smile. It was rare when a guy recognized her from her blog and cam modeling work online but when it did, she tried not to be a nervous wreck. Being at her day job didn’t help. “Thanks,” she said, glancing at the customers milling about the comic books and games behind him. She hoped not too many would overhear the conversation. It wasn’t that she was ashamed of being a cam model, but there were kids in the store.
“I’m your biggest fan,” the guy went on. He was tall and decent looking though not Raleigh’s type. His Captain America shirt filled her field of vision as he moved closer to the display counter she was rearranging. “I was wondering -”
“I think you’re wrong there, chief,” a familiar voice interrupted from behind Raleigh. “I’m her biggest fan.”

Turning, Raleigh couldn’t hide her open mouthed surprise. “Canis! What are you doing here?”
Standing just at the end of the L shaped counter was a tall platinum blonde woman in leather pants and jacket looking ready for a rock concert, not a comics event despite the “Han Shot First” statement on her black t-shirt. “Well, I couldn’t miss free comic book day, now could I? I hear there’s a free Vampirella.” She gave her girlfriend a cocky grin before opening her arms.
Raleigh plunged into Canis’ hug and sighed. It had been a few weeks since they last saw each other. Despite loving that Canis was able to pursue her musical dreams, Raleigh hated being apart. “I missed you,” she murmured against the black leather.
“Take a break,” Canis said, a gleam in her dark eyes.
Raleigh looked across the main room to Eric, her business partner. He gave her a smile and waved towards the back storeroom as if shooing the couple off. Before she could excuse herself from the customer still watching them with a sullen look, Canis grabbed her hand and whispered in her ear, “Come on. I got a present for my girl.”

The way Canis said my girl made Raleigh weak in the knees. She nodded and led Canis towards the back of the store towards the door with an Employees Only sign. Shutting it behind her she moved past the office as employee bathroom and on to the larger, quieter stock room.
The room was dimly lit with fluorescent lights that needed new rods more than a month ago. Raleigh pushed some of the half empty boxes out of their way and looked around to see if there were any chairs. Before she could rethink going to the office, Canis moved behind her and ran her hands down Raleigh’s waist.

Bend Over Fan Girl
Star Wars Silicon Buttplug by Kinky Penguines (no affiliation)

“Doesn’t my girl want her present?”
Canis’ tone, a low almost growl, told Raleigh what her dominant lover had in mind. “Yes, Daddy,” she murmured softly.
One of Canis’ hands left Raleigh’s body, leaving a remnant of heat through the thin “Come to the Dark Side” tank top.
From her pocket, Canis pulled Raleigh’s present and held it out so she could see it.
Raleigh flushed as she eyed the black silicone butt plug. It was bigger than the beginner size she was used to. Canis turned it to show her that instead of a crystal base this one had the Alliance Starbird logo.
Thank you…” Raleigh whispered and went to take it from Canis’ hand. Her girlfriend closed her hand and held it away from her instead.

Masturbation Monday Week 244 Image by Floss Liddell and sponsorted by Hot Octopuss

“Bend over,” Canis ordered, her grin almost audible.
While Raleigh hesitated, she did as she was told. The hem of her pleated skirt brushed the back of her plump thighs as she bent. Canis’ free hand followed the hem and pushed the skirt up over Raleigh’s ass and settling it on her hip.
“Mmm hello there,” Canis murmured, running her palm over Raleigh’s R2D2 panties. “Planning on showing off what a good little fan girl you are today?”
While Raleigh had planned to take a few impromptu pics for her cam modeling account, she was hardly thinking of that right now. Instead her attention was twisted between how nervous she was about the size of that plug and how good it felt to have Canis touching her again after weeks apart.
Slowly, Canis pulled Raleigh’s panties down to reveal her luscious ass. Once over the tops of her thighs, Raleigh’s panties fell easily around her ankles, making her feel wonderfully vulnerable.
Raleigh focused on keeping calm as Canis moved around behind her. Despite taking soft, slow, deep breaths, she yelped when the cold drip of lube hit her ass hole.

“Hush now, little girl. Do you want your fan boys out there to hear you? Perhaps you’d like to come give them a show?” Canis’ slick, lube-covered finger ran over her tight opening. She knew she was working Raleigh up by appealing to her exhibitionism fetish. “Want them to see you bare and forced open? See what a good girl you are for me?”
Canis slid one finger inside Raleigh and watched as the red head trembled and took her inch by inch. Pulling it out she added more lube to press in two fingers this time, stretching her. “Relax sweetness. We don’t have much time before you have to get back out there.” Two fingers to the second knuckle before scissoring them ever so slightly. “Don’t want you walking funny because I had to ram your present in you too soon.”

Raleigh whimpered. “Daddy, please.”
“Please what?” Canis asked, her tone harsh but her expression that of wolfish glee.
“May I touch myself?” Raleigh spread her legs and bent forward a little more to show Canis just how needy she was.
“Is my little girl’s pussy wet?”
Raleigh nodded, her red ponytail bobbing.
“Spread it and show me.” Canis didn’t let up from stretching and stroking Raleigh’s ass as she watched.
Raleigh used two fingers to stroke her wet labia before spreading them wide, revealing every wet hole to her beloved.
“Mmm that’s a good girl.”

Canis pulled her fingers from Raleigh’s ass and took the butt plug from her pocket. She ran the silicone toy over Raleigh’s wet cunt, teasing her sensitive clit and needy hole. “Want it, baby?”
“Yes, Daddy,” Raleigh whimpered, rocking her hips back to try and coax the plug into her pussy.
“No no,” Canis chided and pulled the toy away. She coated it liberally with lube and ran the tip over Raleigh’s prepped anus. “Tell me you want it.”
“I want it, Daddy. Please, I want it.” Raleigh panted, aching to be filled.
Slowly, Canis pushed the plug into her little girl’s needy ass.
Raleigh whimpered, wiggled, and stamped her sneakers but her lover was insistent. Finally, a silent pop and the plug was in. Her anus closed over the plug, stoppered by the Alliance decal base.

“There, that wasn’t so bad,” Canis said, looking over her work.
Raleigh poured as she tried to adjust to the feeling. “For you, maybe.”
A loud smack filled the air and Raleigh’s ass cheek burned from the reprimand.
“Check yourself, little girl,” Daddy Canis said icily.
“Sorry, Daddy. Thank you.” Raleigh swallowed down any other bratty remarks she had.
Silently, Canis pulled her phone from her back pocket and shot a few photos of the wet scene before here. She directed Raleigh to look back over her shoulder so she could capture the wanton expression and red cheeks along with the lubed and filled ass and flush pussy. She sent these to Raleigh’s phone and directed the girl to take her panties the rest of the way off and hand them to her.

“Very pretty,” Canis said as she wiped a little lube off of Raleigh’s ass cheek with her panties. “Time to get back to work.” She pocketed the panties and pulled the door open.
Brushing her skirt back over her ass, Raleigh straightened and turned. She could feel the thick, heavy presence of the plug in her ass as she moved. “Oh no, Canis…I can’t leave this in…” Her voice faltered as her dominant gave her a cold glance.
After a moment, Canis smirked. “Take it out of it gets to be too much but if you’re a good girl for me and keep it in, I’ll make sure it’s not the only wet hole that’s filled tonight.”
With that, Canis turned and left, letting Raleigh decide her own fate.

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