Month: July 2012

Five Ways to Make Your Home a Sensual Playground

House Beautiful? How about House Sensual?

A significant transformation, I know. But it doesn’t have to be a huge project. Turn around a couple of things, and your home can become a sensual sanctuary, a place where you can escape the world and indulge in simple but powerful pleasures.

Now, don’t worry – I’m not going to turn your home into Hugh Hefner’s place. Nothing against Hef. Hell, I haven’t even been to his place yet. It’s just that what works for Hef may not work for you. No, my goal here is to help you infuse your home with that little extra breath of the sexiest thing in the world: you.

Yes, you are. What makes your place appealing to guests (especially special guests) is the special stamp only you can put on it. When your identity is missing, your guests will think they’re on a set or in a magazine – very nice, to be sure, but not so comfortable. Alternately, the chaos of everyday life may have buried the little spark of you that used to make it such a relaxing place. In either case, you can start to bring back the spirit of your home with just a few special touches.

In that spirit, I’m going to give you five things (in no particular order) to start you on the road to your sexy destination.

  1. Candles and candleholders. Last week, I got after people who have candles and don’t use them. I guess I’m on a soapbox about it, though, because I’m going for it again. Candles don’t just add a soft, sexy glow to a darkened room; they give you a chance to fill your space with the scent of your choice. Are you more of a cinnamon-type person or a fresh cotton laundry type? Patchouli is a bold choice – but that candle sends a different message if it’s never been lit! Don’t forget a nice candleholder or two. I keep a Frog Prince tealight holder on the nightstand. There’s not a deep message to him or anything – the phrase “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” applies to him beautifully. I just like having him there. What takes the edge off and puts a smile on your face?
  2. Ingredients. There are a couple of different ways to look at this. You can take pains to have the ingredients to your favorite dish on hand all the time. Don’t laugh. It makes sense to be able to throw together your favorite dish on demand, even if it’s just so that you have ready access to comfort food. If you’ve got a special friend over, you can spend time in the kitchen putting your signature dish together. You probably won’t need to rely on the recipe, so you can talk as you work, and before you’re done, there will be lots of fragrances and tasting involved. You can also make sure to have sexy finger food around. Anything from frozen grapes to a juicy mango to a bowl of olives – anything you can pop into your mouth for a little burst of flavor. After a long day out in The World, I love to settle down on the porch with a little dish of frozen pineapple tidbits and think, “This is why I work.”
  3. Books. I have a book addiction. I admit it. If I am at home, I am within arm’s reach of a book. (Unless I’m in the bathroom. That’s a personal thing, I guess.) I usually have a couple of books that I’m reading at a time (right this second, I’m working on this month’s issue of O Magazine and The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout), but I also have some other things I like to thumb through as the mood strikes. There’s the little book of erotic poetry I bought in New York. A cookbook with my mom’s handwriting in the margins. Just holding my volume of Latin Lyric Poetry eases my mind. In a way, this is a little like the candles in #1. Whatever puts a smile on your face is just the thing to have on hand for your own perusal … or maybe the occasional live reading for special friends.
  4. Bath stuff. Like that technical term, “stuff”? A nice long bath is a sanctuary within a sanctuary. Why not turn it into a regular event? Pick a time to settle down into a warm, fragrant slice of heaven, complete with whatever indulgences you need to keep the Real World far, far away. Shopping for a stash of bath stuff is almost as pleasant as the bath itself. I’m that person drifting around the store sniffing all the candles and lotions and soap (because I don’t grasp that by the time you get to the 30th one, they all smell about the same). But don’t stop with scented oils and bubbles. How about a blindfold? Sometimes not seeing your surroundings can heighten the way you feel your surroundings. And if you’re one of those people who faces competition for your bathroom … well, if you can’t see the door, maybe there’s no one at the door.
  5. Satin sheets. Wait! Don’t run away! Just hear me out. I know I said I wasn’t going to turn your home into the Playboy Mansion. I don’t even know if Hef has satin sheets because I haven’t been over there yet. But I – Alexa Day – hereby give you very specific permission to have satin sheets. Yes, they’re an impractical indulgence. Yes, they’re kind of a silly indulgence. I admit that there’s something kind of retro ridiculous about satin sheets. I still think you should have some. For one thing, just being able to say you have them is pretty cool in the right circles. And we must face a satiny reality here. Nothing in the world feels like satin sheets. They’re so smooth that it’s a challenge to make the bed. If you’re clothed, a fitted satin sheet is basically friction-free (so be careful). When you take away the silly prints and all the preconceptions/misconceptions/funny little ideas we all carry in our heads about the satin sheets, all that’s left is you, sliding around in bed, giggling about how different it feels, and how good different is. Now that’s pretty sexy, right?

Add to the list! What simple things are you doing to make your place a sensual playground?

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What’s So Sexy about the Lightning Storm?

I had something else all planned out for today’s post (I was going to break down the enduring myth of the Bad Boy), but I got sidetracked by an impressive lightning storm. What is it about the lightning storm? How did it make the leap from source of childhood terror to preferred backdrop for lovemaking?

1. The Power of Anticipation. The lightning flash tells us to wait for thunder. Even the length of the wait tells us how far away we are from the center of the storm – the good part. While we wait for the inevitable – while we hold our breath and count to see just how inevitable it is – we will wonder: Will we have to use the candles? Will we get to use the candles?

I say put the lights out. Go ahead and light the candles. Seriously, whenever I am at someone’s house, I check to see if the candles have ever been lit. What are you waiting for?

2. Getting Unplugged. You’re not really supposed to have things on during a lightning storm. I fried a TV like that once (I was housesitting for a very uptight person when this happened, and I caught hell for that, among other things). It makes sense to go ahead and cut the power to everything now, right? Leave the AC on if you must. I must; it’s oppressive here.

What to do now, in the dark with the candles lit? Do you really need guidance, or are you being coy?

You really need guidance? That’s fine – it’s okay to say you really need guidance.

If you are with friends, you are now in the perfect setting to have That Conversation. Go get the bottle of wine and tell secrets. Share embarrassing stories from The Dark Days of High School. Theorize about Things Yet to Come. Debate the Oxford Comma. I like to start with the comma and move backwards through this list to the secrets, but not everyone is all that interested in the comma. It’s the rare man who has a position on the Oxford Comma and is willing to share that position with a woman. I think that’s a sad state of affairs.

If you are with a Special Person, trade secrets. One for one. You’d be surprised by how quickly you will find yourself wishing for the storm to last longer.

If you’re by yourself, daydream. Self-examine (but don’t make yourself the Bad Guy, that’s a drag). Be grateful. Get resolute about Things Yet to Come.

3. The Sexy. Thunder and lightning are caused by proximity, and that should make them sexy all by itself. This is the kind of thing that can be created – that can be manifested – when two things are too close to each other.

Lightning flirts with our most dominant sense in a powerful way. The brilliant flash will show you every angle, every curve, every contour – but only for a second. After that, the space feels darker, but still highly charged with electricity, that feeling of proximity, and that effect can put the best of us a little off balance. Prize that moment of uncertainty. How far away is the storm? How far away is your partner?

By its nature, the lightning storm will tell you how much time you have before it’s over. It’s not easy to get in sync with it, and I would never tell you to try. But feeling at one with nature, moving in time with that immense, raw, elemental force – that is a high that has to be experienced to be believed.

Definitely something to talk about the next time you put out the lights and use the candles.

What is it about the lightning storm for you? Do tell ….

 

Cocktailery: How to Flirt with the Bartender

While I’m working on my first novel, I’m fortunate to have one of the best “real” jobs in the world. I’m a bartender.

Tending bar is a writer’s dream job. I’m surrounded by people all the time. I notice the habits and mannerisms of my regulars. I’ve learned all manner of things and had no end of stimulating conversations with customers. I spent almost two hours discussing The Walking Dead with one of my customers. I got to practice French with two others. Mostly, it’s good for being around people, which recharges my creative batteries.

Another perk of the job: flirting with hot new friends. Lots of guys want to flirt with the bartender, and why not? As my bartending sensei says, “Everyone wants to be the bartender or sleep with the bartender.” Besides, it’s harmless, sexy fun. Purposeful flirting with the bartender – in which you are really hoping to get somewhere – demands adherence to a couple of foundational principles. Some of my hot new friends adhere quite well. Some guys are … well, they don’t. These are the guys I’m talking to.

Today, I want to help you guys out. I’m going to teach you how to flirt with the bartender. It’s not a foolproof method, but it’s a sound basis on which you can build.

Basically, this boils down to two things.

  1. Remember, the bartender is working.
  2. Remember, the bartender is sober.

Let’s take them one at a time.

Remember, the bartender is working.

Most of my hot new friends don’t have trouble with this one. They understand that part of my job is to reciprocate, at least a bit, when they are flirting with me, although I don’t have to tolerate them if they’re being crass, vulgar or just plain rude. They understand that I have to keep track of everyone in the bar, so I can’t just hang out and flirt with them exclusively. And most of them understand not to interrupt me when I am obviously counting something, although I confess that as a bartender, I should be able to count and talk to you at the same time.

So what’s tricky? Endgame. Let’s say you and I have been flirting with purpose, and it looks like things are going well. You don’t want to stay all night, for reasons I get into below. You want to get out while you’re ahead. I, however, am at work. I have to stay here all night. You’re going to need an exit strategy that gets your point across but acknowledges the fact that I am working. Here’s what to do.

Make a good last impression by doing two things. First, leave me a good tip. I’m not saying you have to be extravagant. The average 20% will do the job nicely. Leave me enough to make me remember you favorably without thinking of you as a suck-up. That probably sounds like obvious advice to a lot of you, and I’m glad. But I am still receiving 1% tips from people who are leaving me their phone number.

Don’t get me wrong. Leave me a 1% tip if that’s all I’ve earned. Understand that if I am mumbling “cheap bastard” into the cash drawer, I am no longer receptive to flirting with you.

Secondly, seize the golden opportunity I am giving you when you cash out. I’m going to give you at least two pieces of paper and a pen. I might even give you a little folder. Success! Think of this as the only private conversation you and I will have, and leave me a note. Leave a number. Leave your card. Less is more – a single sentence speaks volumes. “Had a great time.” “See you next Wednesday” (leave a comment if you get that reference). A little something to make a happy memory is all you need.

Remember, the bartender is sober.

The biggest mistake I see men making when they’re flirting with the bartender is that for some reason, they think they have to keep ordering until closing time in order to get somewhere. Not only is that untrue, it’s actually damaging your chances. I know it seems obvious here in SoberWorld, but if you keep drinking like that, you’re going to get drunk. Once you’re drunk, you take yourself out of the running.

So if you take one direction away from this post, it’s this: Know when to stop drinking. Or at least when to slow down.

You don’t have to stay until closing time – I have to, remember, because I’m working – so you can quit while you’re ahead and follow the tips in the first section. Tip me decently, leave me a little note, and go home a winner. You’re not going to impress me by drinking more or by hanging out at my bar until I turn on the “ugly lights.” In fact, you will probably want to be gone before the lights do their worst for our respective appearances.

Bear in mind, once you cross the frontier from cute flirty person to drunk flirty person, a couple of things happen for me as the bartender. First, I have to babysit you a little. I have to keep an eye on genuinely drunk people, to make sure that they don’t hurt themselves or other people, cause damage, become sick, or worst of all, try to drive. Because I cannot legally serve you if I think you’re really drunk, I have to cut you off, which is not making you look hot. Basically, I have to give you more of what my mom calls “the wrong kind of attention.”

In addition, as the sober person, I am watching you flirt drunk. Believe me – drunk people do not flirt well. They just don’t. Seriously, think about this now, while we’re in SoberWorld. Do you want drunk people hitting on you? You know what an embarrassing experience that is to watch, right?

On top of that, you now run the risk that I will always remember you as That Drunk Guy Who Hits On Me. That doesn’t have to be bad – especially if you tip well – but it’s not exactly on par with The Spy Who Loves Me, is it?

Bottom line: If you don’t stop drinking at the right time, or at least slow down, you will lose a lot of control over the situation. As long as you’re not sitting there with an empty glass, I personally am not going to make trouble for you. And you don’t have to sit there all night nursing that one drink if you go out on top with a decent tip and a flirty little note.

So what do you say, neighbors? Do you have flirty success stories and secrets to share? Any word from those who have been behind the bar longer than I have? Tell the bartender all about it.

what if Storm and Wolverine …

Part of being a writer is asking what-if. It’s actually the best part. If you’re an interracial romance fan, you probably spent a lot of time watching TV and movies and reading books with that very question in mind. It’s frustrating and satisfying at the same time, like an itch you can’t quite reach by yourself.

Playing what-if in the 21st century is a different ball game, though. Through the Internet, you now have the benefit of knowing you are not alone (even if it’s just the two of us – it’s okay), and you can now get together with other people who have been playing what-if along with you. Take heart, friends. You’re not alone any more.

So let’s play! I have to give a shout-out to World of Black Heroes for assuring me that I’m not alone here.

Wouldn’t it be hot if Storm and Wolverine of X-Men fame were together?

If you’re a comic book geek (I have tendencies in that direction), then you know that they’ve been together in the relationship sense before. So I’m not saying something no one has ever thought of before. In fact, World of Black Heroes will tell you all about their daughter in the alternate universe. But take a second and imagine that, using whatever media image makes you most comfortable. World of Black Heroes has a most thought-provoking video up at YouTube to assist you as you consider this.

(Yeah. World of Black Heroes — they’re my heroes.)

I’ve always thought these two would be a good match. They’ve been around. They’re just cynical enough. He is struggling with the sort of responsibility she has shouldered gracefully for years. In return, she could throw everything she’s got at him, and he’d never back away or flinch or think any less of her. Plus they’re hot people. That has to count for something, friends.

Now, if you really want to bend your mind, consider the estimable Storm with Thor of Asgard.

You’re not alone, neighbors. I think about this sort of thing, too. What other what-if’s are you getting your heads around?

don’t call it a mission statement

I was going to put a manifesto here. You know, a mission statement or something about why I write what I write and what my plans are and all that. But then I remembered how I felt about that sort of thing. I like you guys. I don’t want to do that to you.

You do deserve some reason to keep coming back here, though, so I’ll make you a deal.

If you really want to see the whole mission statement manifesto thing, check out my bio. Put very simply here, my plan is to set an interracial erotic romance story in every romance subgenre. Right now, I’m working on my first one, a contemporary called Project NSA. There’s a lot of terrific interracial erotic romance out there these days – fans of the genre have never been more fortunate – and I’m excited to bring my special blend to the party as well.

Here on the blog, you’re going to find my take on various forms of interracial romance fiction, the occasional book review, interesting things I’m discovering as I work on my own fiction, and some little bits of writing to add some spice to your day (OMG, you’re welcome!). In exchange for all that, I will from time to time subject you to occasional Tales of Cocktailery from my “real” job as a bartender.

As if all that wasn’t enough, I’m blogging over at Women Words & Wisdom the first Wednesday of each month. I write a column called Below the Fold, where I’m going to show you how to make your day-to-day a little hotter. The first one of those is coming out this Wednesday, the Fourth of July. The W3 is a group project for a lot of other awesome writers, so you’ll have a good time checking out what they have to offer, too.

I’m so excited to see you all here! I’m still building the blog as I write this, but if you follow me on twitter, you can keep up with me and new posts from minute to minute.

I’d love it if you wished me a happy housewarming in the comments!