Pen Play: Online Erotica Writing Workshop Series

Quarantine and sheltering in place has been intense this year, and as we move into the fall and winter, it looks like we will be continuing to shelter.

I don’t know about you, but for me, I have struggled with both my writing practice and with my erotic life this year. At times, I haven’t had any energy for either. But as I have started actively feeding them both again, and tending to them anew, I am finding my interest in them stronger and more dedicated than ever.

Come join me and dive into writing erotica. Bring your desires, your kinks, your pleasures to the page and play around.

About Pen Play:

This is a four week class on constructing erotic stories. Part classroom, part writing group, we will explore the craft of short erotic stories, focusing on the craft of storytelling and how erotica is different than stories without erotic content. You will have something short to read and a writing assignment each week to turn in. Participants will have the opportunity to share their work with each other and give constructive feedback on it. We will meet weekly on Zoom to discuss the readings, workshop selected participant pieces, and answer your questions.

In the class, we will cover some of the fundamentals of a writing life, such as: giving and receiving feedback, techniques to strengthen your writing practice, how to get published, tools for editing your own work, and more. At the end of the class, you will have rough drafts of four short stories ready to polish and submit.

This class is made for folks who are beginners to intermediate writers and who want to hone their craft and publish more work. You do not have to have published anything. All genders, all sexual orientations, all experience levels welcome — no specifics required. Queer characters and kinky acts not required, but this will be a queer-focused and kink-positive space. It will also be kink-positive and trauma informed (to the best of my ability).

Webinars will be recorded and available to download; you do not have to attend live.
Sliding scale available, email [email protected]

Dates:

Sundays, October 18, October 25, November 1, November 8
4-6pm PT / 7-9pm ET

How to sign up:

1. Venmo $150 to $Zed-Sinclair with your email in the text (the email part is important!). (If it asks to put in the last four digits of my phone number, just click at the bottom where it says “skip this step”.)

2. If you can’t pay via Venmo, email me [email protected] and I’ll send you a different way to pay.

3. Once payment is received, I will send you an email with next steps, which include signing up for the Google Classroom and filling out an intake form.

Last day to register is October 14.

I believe stories matter. Telling our stories matter. Sharing how we as queer, kinky, gender radical people live, love, lust, and desire, helps to support others like us, to feel less alone. We still don’t have enough depictions of our truths out there in the world! And I believe we all have stories to tell. Writing isn’t the only way to share them, but it is the craft I know best, and I am excited to share what I know with you all.

Questions?

Do I have to write erotica?
Nope. You can be working on any kind of writing — poetry, plays, short stories, a novel. It could include erotic content, but it doesn’t have to. We will be talking about the things that are different about writing things with explicit sex in them, but what you turn in as your writing assignments is up to you.

Will the webinars be recorded?
Yes! Webinars will be recorded and available to you to download after they are live.

Will you have an ASL interpreter for the webinars?
Yes; please get in touch at [email protected] I will do my best to accommodate different access needs.

Do I have to publish my work?
No. There’s no requirement to publish, but this class is intended for folks who are pursuing writing with some seriousness and are interested in sharing their work more broadly. We will spend some time going over tips and procedures for publishing.

What kind of feedback will I get?
We focus on giving feedback in the Amherst Writer’s Method, which enhances what is working in the piece and gives the author feedback to encourage them to play to their strengths. The feedback will focus on what’s working, what we love about it, and what stays with us.

Do I have to share my work with the class?
No, it’s optional to share your work. Participants will be encouraged to share their reactions to each other’s work in a particular framework, using primarily positive feedback, and all participants will be able to ask for the kind of feedback that they would like to receive, which could be things like some critique, positive feedback, or just to witness with no feedback at all.

Will there be content warnings? Is this trauma-informed?
Yes, we will use content warnings in this workshop, to let everyone decide what they are equipped to read and make decisions with agency. More details about how to use content warnings will be in the class guidelines. I have studied trauma, restorative justice, and community safety in various form, and I will do my best to keep the needs of survivors forefront in the structure of the workshop.

More questions?
Email me, [email protected]

What’s Happening in September, 2020

Here are the events upcoming in September!

I’ve been kind of terrible about calendaring lately. Is this a side effect of the global pandemic and uprising for anyone else? A lot of my friends are struggling with it, even folks who are usually pros at calendaring, scheduling, keeping their priorities straight. Personally, I’ve been up and down through the last few months, which seems to be pretty normal, given the circumstances. I’ve still been writing, publishing, and teaching, and producing events, but often it’s been a struggle. Sometimes I think it’s improving, but it seems to be a pretty frequent swing back to less improvement.

At the moment, I’m just trying to be okay with that, to help take care of my close friends and family, and to go easy on myself. Hope y’all are doing well … and I hope some of our offerings are helpful for connecting in to D/s and kink community.

September 14: Nonbinary D/s Discussion Group: Roles & Responsibilities in D/s

Facebook event | Fetlife event

Anyone is welcome who wants to discuss nonbinary identity and D/s dynamics.

Come join for conversations and support about what it is to be nonbinary in the leather/kink/BDSM community, and how our nonbinary identity affects and intersects with D/s identity.

Topic: Roles & Responsibilities in D/s. What are our roles? What are the responsibilities of each role? What do we do when we can’t meet our responsibilities? How do we keep ourselves, and each other, motivated? What do we do to get ourselves back into our roles when we feel like we have slipped out of it? What can we do to support ourselves, and each other, when there are other external pressures affecting our abilities to show up in our D/s relationships?

September 20: D/s Book Group – Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism by Amber Jamilla Musser

Fetlife event

Join me to discuss the book Sensational Flesh. Here’s the description for the book: “In everyday language, masochism is usually understood as the desire to abdicate control in exchange for sensation–pleasure, pain, or a combination thereof. Yet at its core, masochism is a site where power, bodies, and society come together. Sensational Flesh uses masochism as a lens to examine how power structures race, gender, and embodiment in different contexts. Amber Jamilla Musser employs masochism as a powerful diagnostic tool for probing relationships between power and subjectivity. Engaging with a range of debates about lesbian S&M, racialization, femininity, and disability, as well as key texts such as Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs, Pauline Réage’s The Story of O, and Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Musser renders legible the complex ways that masochism has been taken up by queer, feminist, and critical race theories. Furthering queer theory’s investment in affect and materiality, she proposes “sensation” as an analytical tool for illustrating what it feels like to be embedded in structures of domination such as patriarchy, colonialism, and racism and what it means to embody femininity, blackness, and pain. Sensational Flesh is ultimately about the ways in which difference is made material through race, gender, and sexuality and how that materiality is experienced.”

If you’re not on Fetlife but you want to join this discussion, send me an email and I’ll get you the info: [email protected]

September 27: Folsom Street Fair online

The world famous event is moving online! This is definitely not to be missed. We will be part of a brief titleholder’s event, and there will be workshops, performances, and other ways to connect to kinky community. I’m looking forward to it.

Save the Dates:

Here are more upcoming events where we’re hosting, teaching, or doing workshops. Hope you can make it!

October 15 – Jesbian & Teagan – Leather Lust
October 22 — Feminist Sadism is Not an Oxymoron (And Other Things We Feel Guilty About)
November 13-15 — Leather Reign Conference online
November 19 — Mental Health & D/s Discussion
December 3 — TBD
December 17 — The Protocol Game: Set Up 52 Protocols for 2021
January 28 — Kinky Virtual Game Night
February 18 — TBD
February 19 – 21 – FLAME Conference online
February 25 — TBD
March 18 — TBD
March 25 — International M/s Step Down Party

Announcing: D/s Playground! Summer 2019

D/s Playground is a course for dominants, switches, submissives, folks who are curious, folks who aren’t sure where they fall, and anyone in between.

You only have to want to study consensual authority exchange — dominance and submission — in depth from a trauma-informed, queer, nonbinary, intersectional perspective.

Here are the details!

What is D/s Playground?

D/s Playground is an online course. It doesn’t teach you how to be a dominant or a submissive, but rather offers tools, resources, texts, and experiments to explore your own relationship to dominance, submission, and authority exchange, so you can articulate your interests and explore your edges. After these explorations you will be able to better communicate what you’re looking for and desire — which greatly increases your chances of having it!

There is an introduction video & article for the basic agreements and concepts of the course, and then there are four units — Bondage, Discipline, Service, and SadoMasochism (that spells the acronym BDSM).

Each unit has some or all of the following:

  • How-to videos by sex & BDSM educators
  • Dirty stories to read
  • Nonfiction how-to articles to read
  • Additional fun, like quizzes & checklists
  • Journal prompts to reflect on each of the materials
  • An experiment — something for you to do, in person, alone or with someone else, to try out the concepts of the unit

When is this happening?

Each unit will be available LIVE and included with $5+ patrons benefits through Patreon:

  • May 25, 2019 – Unit 1: Bondage
  • July 20, 2019 – Unit 2: Discipline
  • September 20, 2019 – Unit 3: Service
  • November 25, 2019 – Unit 4: SadoMasochism

The units on Patreon will be recorded, but only the parts with rife and myself will be made public; none of the parts from other participants will be included later.

Yes, it will be available for everyone — not just through Patreon!

Each unit will be available for everybody the following month. (This will give us some time to edit videos, set up the payment systems, etc.)

  • June 30, 2019 – Unit 1: Bondage
  • August 30, 2019 – Unit 2: Discipline
  • October 30, 2019 – Unit 3: Service
  • December 30, 2019 – Unit 4: SadoMasochism

How much will it be?

Each unit will be $69, and all four units can be downloaded for $200. You can preorder them this summer, or wait until the end of the year when they are all available.

A few more questions … ?

Do I have to be in a partnership? Can I do this solo?

Absolutely, you can do this solo, in partnership, with play partners, long distance — in any kind of structure of a relationship. The experiments are all built to be adapted to any scenario.

I’ve taken Submissive Playground before, should I do this one too?

Sure! You will recognize some of the materials, but some of them are new. We had many people take Submissive Playground more than once, and because we are always growing and changing, our relationship to D/s is always growing and changing, so they found new things in the activities. Plus, there are many ways to adapt the experiments and do it differently the next time.

What’s the difference between doing it through Patreon or paying for it later? Is it the same material?

Yes — mostly. All the materials are the same. The difference is that through the Patreon, you will have a community of folks going through it with you, and downloading it later will be more of a solo experience.

Signing up through Patreon also gives you access to a private Discord server, which is like a chatroom. The only people in there are signed up through Patreon, so it’s a small, intimate group of people I trust. There are ongoing conversations in there about dominance and submission, and we’ll have a dedicated space to talk about the materials in the course, have accountability buddies, and share the homework.

How do I sign up?

Go over to patreon.com/mrsexsmith and sign up as a $5+ patron, and you’ll automatically get access to the live webinars starting in May.

If you want to download them after and not through Patreon, sign up for the mailing list and you’ll get notifications when they are available. (Keep an eye on my social media, too!)

Fundamentals of the Protocol Game

It’s a game: Try out one protocol a week for a year — keep ones you like, forget those you don’t. It’s pretty simple!

rife + I are doing a webinar at the end of April where we’ll walk you through how to actually come up with 52, making training categories, and some best practices for making protocol happen. The webinar is on April 27th for $5+ patrons — sign up here.

We’ll do most of the workbook right on the webinar, so you’ll walk away with the game set up — you won’t stick it in your desk drawer and discover it three months later thinking oh yeah, I was going to do that wasn’t I?

I highly recommend it for folks in and out of power dynamics or relationships, for dominants or subs or switches! It’s been very helpful & successful for un-owned subs in the past; it gives a sense of structure, things to practice, and ongoing reminders of D/s identity.

Some of our key learnings:

The first few times we set it up for ourselves, rife + I found that sometimes the protocol I set up for him were actually things I had to do — like: “receive a flogging every night” is actually kinda my protocol, something I had to make happen, not his. So the second year we did the game, we each had our own.

We also split the protocols into tasks vs protocols:

Protocols are “if this then that:” when you wake up, offer me sexual service. When you shower, shave your cunt. when you do the dishes, wear a butt plug.

Tasks are one time: clean the refrigerator. Get waxed. Buy new rope.

I’ve had (mostly) vanilla friends of mine use this for other things, too. Once I helped a friend set up 52 dating experiments, because she wanted to date more but was coming up against all kinds of blocks. It can work for all sorts of realms of exploration and growth and goals.

But how do you come up with 52?!

Coming up with the actual protocols can be the hardest. I asked so many dominants if they would mind sharing their list of the protocols with me

Breaking it into training categories, or, as we call it, making a training wheel, can help with that:

(PS, it’s really helpful to have a graphic designer / illustrator as my owned property, I gotta say. Reminds me of how all those singer/songwriters marry their sound techs. I get it.)

There are also more serious high-level overviews of life like this one, from the book How To Be, Do, or Have Anything (which is actually better than it sounds).

There are other life matrix-esque charts, but it’s often best to come up with the areas of your life specifically that you want to make the most progress in. They could be the ones that are holding you back, but don’t forget the ones that are sexy, fun, power-driven, exciting, juicy!

We break protocols into multiple categories:

  • Sexy for sexy’s sake — just, because
  • Making pragmatic things hot — dishes (but with a butt plug!), paperwork (but tied to a chair!)
  • Self-improvement

(But go easy on the self-improvement one, okay? We can so easily get caught up in Making Ourselves Better, and it’s important to also be accepting of where we’re at and just stay still, too. Meaning: make sure you also have a lot of sexy ones that just feel good in your dynamic & identity! Plenty more of those than the self-improvement ones.)

In her book Discipline (now out of print), Lily Lloyd set up these Three Core Rules for protocol which I really like. If a protocol goes against any of these things, don’t do it! Or, reassess it!

If all of this sounds interesting, come join me + rife on April 27th for the Protocol Game workshop!

The $5 or up levels on Patreon include the monthly webinars —— which will include D/s PLAYGROUND this summer!

Sign up at patreon.com/mrsexsmith