Elia Recaps Her First Kink Convention (in MS Paint)

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Geeky Kink New England, which is either described as “a geeky convention for kinksters” or “a kinky convention for geeks.” I first heard of this event during my research for Playing Knotty. I needed to find some kink conventions that Ian was likely to attend, and my Googling led me right to Geeky Kink. I realized immediately that this was the convention for me, especially since I write geeky, kinky romance.

Without getting ahead of myself, I’ll say that the hubby and I had an incredible time, met cool people, and learned a lot of stuff. These people are our tribe and we’ll definitely be back.

Now, for the recap. I have created terrible cartoons in MS Paint to help bring the experience to life.

We arrived a day early, because hotels are awesome. Events really didn’t kick off until Friday night, so in the meantime, we ate delicious food, toured the area, and swam in the ice-cold hotel pool for a very short amount of time. After registration Friday afternoon, the event was underway.

Before I describe what we did, I need to talk about the vibe of the event. It was gloriously inclusive and “live and let live,” both sex- and kink-positive. No one shamed anyone else for what they enjoyed, not even in the “I’m only teasing” way. Also, it was super open to different sexualities and gender presentations. The bathrooms were all gender-neutral, with signs on the doors saying stuff like “This bathroom is gender-neutral, because we won’t put you in a box unless you’re into that.” Everyone smiled and greeted each other and genuinely meant it.

The event was also fantastic about consent. Everyone asked before making bodily contact, even in spaces where touching would normally be “expected” like when getting sized for a kilt. There was no pressure to participate in anything. I felt welcomed in the body I have, and people of all shapes and sizes were present in street clothes, fetish wear, and naked for naked-friendly events, and there was zero body shaming. How amazing was that?

Now, onto the events. First was the violet wand.

Violet wand seminar

While I’ve always been squeamish about electricity play, I was attending with someone who wanted to learn more, so we went to a beginner’s violet wand seminar. I went from squeamish to fascinated in no time at all, and even volunteered to try it out. It’s not sexy or erotic to me, but it’s a fun sensory experience, like static electricity but more predictable. We had fun getting zapped and zapping each other. We also ogled the adorable girl who was the “demo bottom” for the workshop.

We had so much fun, in fact, that we went to the advanced violet wand seminar later that night. The same woman was running it, and she did all kinds of wild things with the violet wand like temporary branding and using conductive rope to zap someone in bondage. After this, we decided we needed to buy a violet wand, which we did later in the weekend.

After the seminar, we took a walk through the dungeon, which was pretty quiet because it was early in the weekend and also “no fucking Friday,” so anyone who wanted to have sex in the dungeon was waiting until Saturday. Still, I was in awe of all the bondage equipment, and mentally started a list of stuff I wanted to buy and make once we have a bigger house. The dungeon had all the things below, generally more than one of each.

Dungeon furniture image

Saturday we slept in, as did everyone else, and got into the swing of things after lunch. We went to a workshop on “rhythmic geeky impact play,” which used geeky soundtracks as inspiration for impact play patterns. The people running the workshop were obviously having a great time.

Rhythmic Geeky Impact Play

We also spent time in the vendor row. My hubby bought a kilt, which I’m thrilled about. We also picked up the aforementioned violet wand kit and a gorgeous new flogger. The vendor row was dangerous, because everyone had so much great stuff that we wanted to buy all of it. Seriously. I could have spent an entire paycheck in the first three stores if I didn’t need to pay a mortgage and eat food.

Vendor image

Later that night, we decided to hit the dungeon ourselves. I felt totally comfortable getting nekkid in a giant room full of people all getting their freak on, and had an absolutely euphoric flogging session on a St. Andrew’s Cross. People watched and it was super hot. Not only did I try something I’d been nervous about, but I loved every single minute of it.

Dungeon image

We then went back to our hotel room, played around with the violet wand, and then visited the Glowy Pool Party of Awesome. Yup, it was a pool party with glow sticks and glow toys everywhere, plus a laser light show and fog machine. The pool had not warmed up since our swim a few days earlier, so we stayed on shore. Nobody pressured us to get in the water, because consent, so that was lovely. While almost everyone was naked, some people kept clothes on, and there was no shame either way.

Glowy Pool Party

Sunday everyone was packing up and heading out. We toured the vendors one last time, said goodbye to people we met, and headed for home.

Honestly, Geeky Kink New England was a significant high point not only of my summer, but of my year. Cons usually exhaust me, but this rejuvenated me. I felt safe and welcomed at all times. While we won’t be able to get to Geeky Kink Classic in New Jersey this November, if you’re in the area, you should go. As for us, we’re going to enjoy all our new toys and wait for next year. My goal for next year: dungeon orgasms.

What about you, readers? Have you ever been to a kink con? Would you ever attend? Have you recovered from my MS Paint skills yet? If you have any questions about my experience, go ahead and ask!

Categories: Bondage, Kink, Playing Knotty, Reflections, Sex | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Things to Stop Doing When Talking About Romance Novels

I need to get something off my chest. I’m sick and tired of the way people talk about romance novels and the romance genre. Here are five things we need to stop doing immediately:

  1. Stop treating romance like “writing for dummies.” I can’t count the number of times someone in one of my writing groups has said the equivalent of, “I could be published by now, if I were just writing smut,” or “I’d write romance, but I want to write real stories.” Just because something ends happily doesn’t make it less real, and just because people have sex, doesn’t mean it’s not challenging to write.
  2. Stop calling them “mommy porn.” This is the most infantilizing, insulting term, and thanks to the Book That Shall Not Be Named, it’s become a household phrase. The word “mommy” itself is juvenile, intended to demean women. By linking it with “porn,” it’s saying that A) women don’t appreciate pornograpy and B) all sexual content IS pornography. I like my porn the old-fashioned way, thanks, and I’m nobody’s mommy.
  3. Stop calling them formulaic. The only requirement for romance is that it ends in a “happily ever after” or a “happy for now.” How is this any different than the genre standards for mystery, or westerns, science fiction or fantasy? Some romance novels deal with heavy topics, some light, but when you read a romance, you know it’s going to end happily. Why is that such a bad thing?
  4. Stop saying “bodice rippers.” Seriously, the 1970s called and they want their slang back. A “bodice ripper” is a pretty accurate term for a type of romance popular, like, 40 years ago. Bodice rippers were pretty rapey overall, and by calling all romance novels bodice rippers, you’re making them all sound rapey, and you’re acting like the genre hasn’t changed in 40 years. Have you changed in the last 40 years? Well, so have romance novels.
  5. Stop limiting romance novels to a white heterosexual couple. Romance is for everyone, not just cisgendered heterosexual white people. Romance novels are getting more diverse, but that road is slow and uphill, and we aren’t helping by assuming all romance novels need to be M/F, or white, or cis. It’s time for diverse romances to become the norm, not the exception relegated to specialized publishing lines and segregated shelves. Diversity is not a trend and shouldn’t be treated as one. Everyone deserves their happily ever after.

In the immortal words of Gordon Ramsay…

Get your shit together!

What did I miss, readers? What are your personal pet peeves when people talk about romance novels?

Categories: Feminism, rant, romance novels, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Find me at RWA15

In just a few days’ time, I’ll be headed to New York City by train (like a swanky city minx) to take on the RWA Conference. I’ve been to two RTs, but this is my first RWA, and I’m quite excited to meet people at RWA15.

Oh hell yes gif

Here’s where I’ll be signing and mingling each day:

Wednesday 7/22

5:30 – 7:30pm Literacy Autographing

Friday 7/24

9:45 – 11:45am Harlequin Book Signing

1:00 – 2:30pm Pocket Book Signing

Saturday 7/25

8:00 – 10:00pm RITA Awards Ceremony – Purely Professional is a RITA finalist in Best Erotic Romance and Best First Book!

I’m of course going to other events and parties throughout the event. Please say hello if you see me!

Categories: Appearances, Conventions, RWA, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

First Kisses of the RITA Best First Book Finalists

A Fiesta of Firsts with the RITA Best First Book Finalists

Welcome to Week 3 of the Fiesta of Firsts! I’m honored to be among the authors nominated for the RITA award for Best First Book, and we’ve decided to come together and share seven weeks of “firsts” with you in an event we’re calling “A Fiesta of Firsts.” Every time I type that on my phone, it autocorrects to “A Fiesta of Fists,” which is an entirely different event that I think involves cage-match fighting.

RITA Award

The RITA award

If you’ve never heard of the RITAs, they’re awards given to the best of the best romance novels each year. There are genre categories as well as the “best first book” category, which we’re celebrating here. It’s like the Oscars, but with less Neil Patrick Harris. (We should remedy that, though. Seriously.)

Each week of the Fiesta of Firsts is hosted by a different “Best First Book” finalist on her blog. You can see a new post every Friday until the RITA awards on July 25th. We’re giving away a big basket of books at the end of the fiesta: some of our books as well as our favorite books. There’s a Rafflecopter at the end of this post that you can use to enter this giveaway, and really, you should. Because free books. Also, one lucky commenter this week will receive a free copy of my latest novel, Combustion, a Steampunk erotic romance.

If you’re just joining us now, here’s the fiesta so far:

Week 1: Our First Book Crushes
Week 2: Favorite Firsts from our RITA finalist books

Which brings us to Week 3…

Week 3: Our First Kisses

That’s right. I asked these other authors to dish about their own first kisses… and dish they did!

AE Jones

AE Jones When I was in sixth grade a boy in my class asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. And like that, we were a ‘couple’. As his girlfriend I got to hang around with him on the playground and hold his hand at the roller-skating rink. This made me ridiculously happy because 1) I had a boyfriend and EVERYONE knew it and 2) he held me up as we skated (I was a terrible skater). He was a sweet boy and he gave me a heart-shaped locket and I wore it while we were an item. We shared a quick kiss one day at the roller rink. More of a peck than anything, but we were twelve and since he was a head shorter than me, I had to bend down to kiss him! That was my first kiss. My first ‘real’ kiss is a story for another day! Mind Sweeper

Alyssa Alexander

Alyssa Alexander My first kiss was at a high school Valentine’s Day dance. I was considered old in comparison to my friends’ first kisses, being just shy of 16. And though I don’t remember much of it, I do remember that little flutter and the red hearts taped everywhere in the gym. I also remember wearing one of my first formal dresses, a pretty corsage on my wrist and flying high on the fact that my crush had asked me to the dance. The Smuggler Wore Silk

Clara Kensie

Clara Kensie My first kiss went to a cute boy I met at the clubhouse of my dad’s new apartment complex. My dad was busy unpacking, so I went to explore. The boy was hanging out at the clubhouse, and he showed me around the grounds– the pool, the tennis court, the convenience store, and back to the clubhouse. He was very chivalrous and I was very flattered, and when it was time for me to go, he suddenly leaned in and kissed me. I think he was even more surprised than I was! The kiss was clumsy and awkward, but also romantic and sweet. The follow-up: I saw him (ahem… kissed him) a few more times when I visited my dad, but then he moved away and we never saw each other again. We didn’t have a romance novel’s Happily Ever After ending, but it was nice while it lasted! Run To You

Sonali Dev

Sonali Dev Groan. I’ve been dreading this question. Because really, it’s a bit of an icky story. Despite my best attempts to be otherwise, I was a pathetically goody-two-shoes teenager and my first and only boyfriend was worse. So a lot of longing and no real liplocking happened. Tragically enough, it was the opposite with this guy I was set up with as part of my real life arranged marriage saga: none of the longing and some rather unfortunate liplocking. The poor guy went through all this trouble to take me to this beautiful park in Mumbai and tried to be all romantic. But in the end there was much moisture and no fire (told you it was icky). Needless to say it turned out to be the (ahem) kiss of death for that particular matrimonial liaison. A Bollywood Affair

Natalie Meg Evans

Natalie Meg Evans I was a pretty late starter and that first kiss began to feel like a social test that I was never going to be asked to show up for. Other girls in my year had boyfriends and went out on dates. They got valentine cards by the trailer-load. I got none. So when a boy I didn’t like very much got his friend to ask me out, I said, ‘All right’ while my head shouted, ‘No!’ He was goofy, wore blue specs and had teeth like all three of the BeeGees glued together. His friend, Glynn, kept teasing us, ‘Have you snogged yet?’ I’d been holding off. I knew what was coming. One afternoon, the boyfriend, let’s call him Andy, picked me up from school and I hustled him away so none of my friends would see him. We went to the town park and sat together on the grass and he said, ‘I suppose we’d better get on with it, then.’ We did and the clashing of front teeth was the only part I remember but I obviously couldn’t face a second go because I ditched him shortly after. His friend Glynn wrote me a letter telling me I was a horrible girl and I was very upset. Trouble was, I fancied Glynn, of course. He was dark and muscly and went on to be a fireman. Life, ha? The Dress Thief

Elia Winters

Elia Winters My first kiss was when I was 15. Nowadays, that feels really young, but back when I was 15 it felt like I was the last person on earth to be kissed. I had a boyfriend named Scott – who’s still my Facebook friend and will probably cringe upon reading this – and we’d been dating for FOREVER (two months, maybe three?) and he hadn’t kissed me. Finally, we were both over my friend Jen’s house and she shoved us out the back door and said, “There’s a pretty marsh behind my house! Go look at it.” So we tromped dutifully down to the marsh, and stood there awkwardly until finally he made a move and kissed me. It was really sweet, actually. I remember thinking he smelled nice. Purely Professional


This Week’s Finalist Spotlight: Purely Professional

Purely Professional

Columnist Bridget Hartwell agrees to write about BDSM to impress her new executive editor at Sultry, the “sex-positive magazine for sex-positive women.” Unfortunately, it’s a topic she knows absolutely nothing about…but if she ever wants that promotion, she’ll need to learn the ropes, fast.

English professor Max Harlow is active in the Dom/sub scene, but only for casual play—he’s never found his ideal partner: a woman who is his equal, but sexually submissive. When he’s asked to explain the lifestyle to his cute but obviously inexperienced neighbor, Max is certain it’s best to approach it academically—to keep things purely professional.

Until Bridget’s first article is a huge hit, giving her the perfect excuse to delve deeper into the naturally submissive side of her sexuality. But as their encounters intensify and each of her boundaries is skillfully pushed, Bridget must decide what this all means… for her identity, her career, and, most importantly, her future with Max.

Amazon | BN


What about you, readers? If you’re feeling brave, share your first kiss in the comments! Or just tell us what you thought of ours. One lucky commenter this week will win a copy of Combustion.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: Awards, Blog Tour, Combustion, Purely Professional | Tags: , , , , , | 32 Comments

Combustion On Tour

Today is the first day of my blog tour with Combustion!


Combustion Tour Dates and Stops

June 12: Romance Novel Giveaways
June 19: Unabridged Andra’s
June 26: Erotica For All
July 10: Christine Young
July 17: BooksChatter
July 24: Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
July 24: The Reading Addict
July 31: Deanna’s World
August 7: Booklover Sue
August 14: Blog of author Jacey Holbrand
August 21: The Pen and Muse Book Reviews
August 28: Doing Some Reading
September 4: The Booksnake Etc,
September 4: One Curvy Blogger
September 11: Books N Pearls
September 18: One Curvy Blogger
September 25: It’s Raining Books
October 2: Long and Short Reviews

I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter. Stop by, say hello, and follow the tour!

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Where to find me: Romantic Times Booklovers Convention 2015

It’s that time again: the annual Romantic Times Booklovers Convention! I’m gearing up for the crazy-making at RT15.


Aww yiss. RT2015.

If you’re going too, you should find me. Here are the events where I’ll be a panelist or featured author:

Read more »

Categories: Appearances, RT | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

COMBUSTION is out today!

I’m thrilled that after months of waiting, COMBUSTION is now available!

This cover is one of my favorites and I love these characters. I hope you enjoy them, too.

ibooks kindle nook

For explosive chemistry, all you need is the right catalyst…

A war orphan, Astrid Bailey is content living her adult life alone, working as a contract machinist. Her real passion, though, is inventing felicitation devices that promote women’s sexual empowerment and help them find pleasure independent of a man.

The upcoming World’s Fair, with its substantial cash prize, is an opportunity to open the shop she’s always imagined and hopefully solve her financial woes. Except the committee has denied her entry unless she obtains a “sponsor”. Astrid suspects they mean “male”.

Eli Rutledge, noted watchmaker, knows entering the fair will solidify his reputation as an innovator —but he’s fresh out of ideas. Until Astrid approaches him with her outrageous product line. With no other options, though, he agrees to lend her his good name.

As construction heats up, so does their chemistry—and the complications. Astrid is unaccustomed to asking for help, much less sharing credit. And Eli fights an attraction that could spell professional disaster. As the Fair date approaches, Astrid and Eli must decide how far they’ll go. For the business…and for each other.

Categories: Combustion, Steampunk, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The RITA Awards!

Yesterday I got a wonderful and unexpected call from a lovely representative of the Romance Writers of America to tell me I’m a finalist in the 2015 RITA awards! Purely Professional is a finalist in two categories: Best First Book and Best Erotic Romance.

I’m honored to be among the finalists. I can’t wait to read all these wonderful books! Congratulations to all the other finalists.

Check out the full list of finalists, or if you want to see some gorgeous book covers, here’s a visual representation of the finalists.

And if you haven’t read Purely Professional yet, now’s the time. Buy now: Carina Press | Amazon | BN


Categories: Awards, Purely Professional | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

PLAYING KNOTTY is out today!

It’s book release day! I bought a cake. Because that’s what you do, right?

I also have ice cream and a really big bottle of wine. Because again, that’s what you do.

I’m also gearing up for an official Book Release Party on April 8th from 7:30 – 9:30pm, EST, at a local watering hole and event venue, the amazing Platinum Pony. Some people have asked me about Skype. I’d be happy to set up some kind of digital video thingy for the party so you can join us virtually… but would anyone come? Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll see about making it happen.


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Combustion Cover Reveal

Well, I had hoped to keep this under wraps for a little longer, what with Playing Knotty coming out next week, but it looks like the cat’s going to be out of the bag one way or another.

Check out this gorgeous cover for Combustion!

Combustion cover


Combustion will be available for pre-order starting April 5th.



Categories: Combustion, Cover Reveal, Steampunk | Tags: , , | Leave a comment