How did Master’s Degree Start?

I thought it would be fun to share some of how Master’s Degree came about without saying too much about the plot. About a year ago or so, I walked into a café called Tryst in Washington, DC and sat down on a couch, yes there are couches. And that’s really all it took. I was instantly immersed in the start of the novel. In fact, I couldn’t tell you how long I sat there writing as I lost myself in it. I should also say that the character Deborah was not based on anyone in the cafe nor on anyone I know. In fact, the story was not supposed to go the way it did. Cover try in canva 7

The original story-line was supposed to go in a completely different direction and was going to follow Ethan and a student of his. Ethan was going to help his student find her confidence and her own path. The idea was that a quiet, insecure young woman was going to become an amazing confident person. (Maybe next time.) Further down the road, I wanted to put her in the role of the protagonist who comes back as a very cool bad-ass dominant, but that’s all I had for that. (Maybe the time after next time?)  woman in black latex corset

Aoi, and in essence, the plot came into being after an argument between Ethan and Deborah. Ethan left Tryst and started walking. I was using Street View and walking around virtually when I came across a tea house, so Ethan went inside. Yes, this whole thing came about because I went out for coffee and then wandered around on Google Street View.  All of the restaurants, cafes, and bars are real. Some of them I know. I went on a date once at Oyamel and highly recommend it. Depositphotos_84942706_xl-2015

Some things happened in the story that I didn’t want to happen, but the characters just kept going and doing their thing. In fact, I was stuck on the ending for a number of months and then I realized that I just had to let them follow the path they were on.

paperback coverIn so many ways, this novel is different from The Story of Us, but it nips at many of the same topics and themes. I hope you enjoy it.

Trav

Remember: You can pre-order Master’s Degree for only $3.99 until June 30th.

 

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Master’s Degree Now Available

Master’s Degree is now available on Amazon for your Kindle. Here is a short excerpt.

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Ethan sat in his office with his head on the edge of his desk. It hurt a bit, but he didn’t really care. He was an imposter and the rest of the grad students and faculty figured that out during his first few classes. Any minute now they would come rushing in to demand that he turn in his books, vacate the premises, and sue his undergraduate school for negligence. He considered banging his head on the edge but thought better of it. He figured he was going to need every last brain cell to figure out what to do now that he had been exposed as a fraud.

The next thought that popped into that head of his was to call his friend Carlos. He had just gone through a Ph.D. program and may have some good advice. After all, Carlos was part of the reason Ethan decided to get his Ph.D. Carlos seemed to have a great life. He had a terrific partner, a job he loved, and a nice house. In the evenings, they would host the most amazing parties, go to concerts or plays, or just sit by the fireplace and read. Mostly, Carlos would read and watch movies. That was his job. For Carlos, sitting by the fireplace reading was work. Ethan, of course, wanted that job as well, so he applied to a Ph.D. program and was accepted.  One month in, though, he was feeling doubt. He felt he didn’t belong. He felt like he was a fraud; that everyone in his cohort knew more than he. The idea of sitting by the fireplace reading was a bit of a façade. The truth was, behind that cool exterior, or so thought Ethan, was a man reading for his life. And that was how he felt that first semester of grad school when he called Carlos for advice.

“Quit whining,” was the advice he got. “You are going to read more than you can retain, you are going to learn less than you think you should, and you are going to shut up and do the work.”

Ethan was grateful for the advice or rather for the bluntness of the advice. There was no messing around at this point. He had to just get the work done. It would take a level of discipline that Ethan wasn’t sure he had, but he was determined to see if he had the wherewithal to get the job done. The other piece of advice Carlos gave him was to relax a little and go get a drink. “Think about what you are doing and why. Don’t do this if you don’t love it. It is brutal work, and if you don’t love it, you’re going to drive yourself crazy.”

Ethan took the advice and headed down to a place called Tryst. When he opened the door, the noise hit him like a hot wind. The place certainly had a college or young professional vibe to it. There were people clacking away on laptops or pretentiously reading books while sipping on beer and or coffee. There were bodies of all types splayed on beat-up couches or sitting at wobbly tables. The tin ceiling and bright colored walls added to the cacophony of sights and sounds. A striking waitress with warm dark features and fishnet stockings came to take his order.

“Hi, I’m Lisette, can I get you anything?” Ethan ordered and she gave him a smile. He thought it was a waitress smile, but as far as the waitress smiles go, it was a good one. It seemed genuine. Ethan felt good. It was the right advice and the right place to play out his advice. The only spot open was one of the couches, so he quickly went over and sat.

Perfect Coffee  Taking out his notepad, Ethan decided that he would make a list of sorts. He was going to self-discipline and order his days. He was going to create for himself a series of rewards and punishments to get his work done. Tryst, clearly, would be one of his rewards. His cold Stella arrived and he began to plot-out every day of his life for the next three months. He figured that after three months, he could see what was working and what wasn’t and make adjustments from there. Ethan was looking down at his notebook feeling pretty good about himself when he noticed the booted legs of a tall woman standing next to him. Even though he was sitting, he could tell she was tall by how long it took for his eyes to reach her face. She had weary eyes that seemed a bit sad, but there was something underneath the sadness that pierced Ethan. She was asking if she could get by and sit on the couch with him, but it took him a bit to respond. She waited patiently for him to register her.

“Is that seat taken?”

“No, by all means.” She smiled, perhaps at the odd formality of the response. Ethan just looked at her and smiled as she sat.

“Thank you.”

“It’s crowded.” Ethan was eager to get back to his list, but he placed a high value on human connection. Those little niceties that make us human. She returned his smile and Ethan turned back to his list with a sigh.

Ethan had to read at least 1000 pages per week. Usually a novel for each class and an uncertain number of pages of criticism, literary theory, philosophy. He took a deep breath and filled out those slots in his calendar that had fixed appointments. He was taking three seminars and teaching two undergraduate classes. That was 24 hours of his week right there. He had to consider grading, student meetings, and things like that. But this was a full-time job he figured. He should spend a minimum of forty hours per week and maybe some overtime.

Ethan’s neighbor crossed her legs and her skirt slid up just a fraction revealing a garter. He looked from her leg back up to her. She smiled, as did he, before both returning to their tasks.

He had determined that he was to wake up at seven every morning, grab the book on his nightstand and read for an hour before getting ready. That should get him a good start on the day. If he breaks it down, it is only about 150 pages per day. Carlos had been right, self-discipline was key. He could do this.

“Rewards,” mumbled Ethan.

“I’m sorry?” replied his long, cool couch neighbor.

He looked her square in the eye. “Rewards,” he repeated.

“Like doggie treats?” She teased.

“Sort of…yes…I need to give myself little doggie treats when I behave well. You see, I’m…

Depositphotos_41331155_xl-2015  She cut him off. “You’re a first-year Ph.D. student and you’re overwhelmed by the work.” He looked at her. “I’m Deborah and I probably still have my first-year calendar somewhere”.

“Ethan, nice to meet you.”

“I can help, if you like, I’ve been through it.” She said. There was a bit of insistence in her voice.

“Are you a professor here?”

“No,” she frowned a little. “I just defended my dissertation project last month and I’m teaching here this year while I look for full-time work and try to write it.”

“In what?”

“Women and Gender Studies.” There was an awkward pause that Deborah enjoyed immensely. “And I saw you looking at my leg.”

Ethan stuttered a little, “It was just there I was looking at…” He holds up the notebook.

“Relax, it has been there my entire life. I am aware of its existence.” She pulled up her skirt a little more revealing the creamy skin hidden just underneath. “See?” she said.

Ethan smiled, “I do see.”

Deborah quickly covered her leg and turned to Ethan. “Did you finish your plan?”

Ethan exhaled. “No, not yet.”

“Then you should not be looking at my thigh or speaking to me until you are.”

“And when I’m finished,” Ethan thought he was being seductive and flirty.

“Stop talking until you’re finished,” Deborah said coldly without so much as looking at him.

Ethan fidgeted for a second not knowing how to respond to that statement or its delivery. He was a little uncomfortable with the way she spoke to him, but it really didn’t matter. He was here to relax and to get this plan put into motion. He would chalk the odd exchange up to bar-induced small talk. Looking back at his plan, Ethan determined that he had to read four hours per day and maybe a few more on the weekends. He also had to write. He figured he could read for an hour first and last thing every day. That would get him down to just two more hours of reading per day. Ethan smiled as his plan shaped up. Carlos had been right, he could do this. He had been working hard and getting frustrated when what he really needed to do was to work smarter.

“Are you finished,” Deborah’s voice was a bit softer, but still had an edge to it.

“I think so,” Ethan smiled.

Sexy businesswoman tempting her body  “Let me see it,” responded Deborah curtly. Ethan handed over his notebook. Deborah held the notebook in her right hand. She smiled and nodded at the plan while with her left hand she raised the hem of her skirt again to reveal her thigh and garter. This time she pulled it up a little further than last time. “Reward,” she said without taking her eyes off the plan. Then she frowned and pulled the skirt down just a bit. Ethan could still get a glimpse of what looked to be a perfect thigh, but the garter had disappeared.

Can you write BDSM if you don’t live it?

This may be one of my more controversial posts, and there are people who will come down on all sides of this question and I would love to read your comments on the topic below. Depositphotos_21623839_xl-2015

Well, then, can you write BDSM stories if you don’t live it?

Some of you will say, no, it becomes painfully obvious quickly that you don’t have the experience necessary to write competently about BDSM. In fact, there was a rather famous book that got some criticism for just that very issue. Can you really describe the difference between the pain of the crop or pain of bare hand if you haven’t felt them? On the other hand, is it possible to understand what someone is feeling as they bring down that crop or palm?

Some of you will say, of course, you can. After all, you might argue, Margaret Atwood didn’t live in a totalitarian…bad example. Jules Vere, as far as we can tell, never did take a journey to the center of the earth. Imagination is just as important as experience.

Playful couple makes love with handcuffs, eroticaThen there will be a whole slew of other responses. People might argue that online or virtual experiences are more than enough to get an accurate sense of the lifestyle.

Finally, or rather not finally, as I am sure there may be more responses, one could argue for researching an area. One could read about BDSM or interview participants and develop accurate portrails of people and situations. Depositphotos_175262656_xl-2015

I am going to make one more argument: Empathy. It is my sense that if you are going to write about something you are not, you must, at the very least be able to empathize. If, for example, I were not able to empathize with different people, all of my characters would just be versions of me. And how ridiculous would that be?

I think that most people actually combine some if not all of these pieces when writing. I know I do. Maybe it is because I’m not that creative, I tend to build from my personal experience and move out from there. After all, in The Story of Us and Master’s Degree, there are scenes and ideas that develop out of my life experience. They quickly spin out of control and, in the end, don’t look anything like the original event.

Let’s take the basketball game in Master’s Degree, for example. I played a great deal of pick-up basketball a while back, and while I don’t remember any particular game, I remember the feeling of camaraderie and respect that developed on the court. I also remember a woman who played once who destroyed me every time she got the ball. I think she may have been a ringer, but I digress.

Depositphotos_229865522_xl-2015I guess the answer to the above question is all of the above, but if you are going to write about something as sensitive as BDSM or D/s you’d better be careful and really try to understand and feel empathy for the characters because there are real people living that lifestyle and too often they are portrayed in film and on television as having some disorder or problem, when in fact, they are just living their lives.

Yes, BDSM is Deviant

In a recent post, I made an argument for affirmative consent. In fact, I made an argument for enthusiastic consent, the type of consent that can be considered a turn-on in and of itself. Depositphotos_57715379_xl-2015

Today, I want to back up a bit and make a more substantial argument for the practice of BDSM in vanilla relationships. For argument’s sake, let’s say you have no interest in anything that is buried in the meaning of the acronym BDSM. Perhaps you don’t care for Bondage, Discipline, or Dominance. Let’s say you don’t like the idea of Submission or Sado-masochism. You would probably be in the majority. In fact, as late as 2012, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders had BDSM listed as, well, a disorder and was used in court to determine things such as custody. According to some research I’ve seen, it has been used as late as 2017 to determine custody. The point is that people, generally speaking, see BDSM as some sort of deviant behavior. You may hold this position as well. Man suggesting wife to play sexual games with rope

Today, I am going to agree with those who see BDSM as deviant behavior. That said, I’m also going to pull at one string of BDSM and argue that we all should practice it. The string I’m going to pull at is trust.

The key component of consensual BDSM is trust. If you are going to let someone Bind you to the bedpost or anything else for that matter, you damn well better trust them. If you are going to let someone hit you with a whip or a crop, hell, or even their bare hand, there has to be the trust that they aren’t going to do something that you don’t like. Lastly, if you are going to kneel in front of someone and declare your submission to their will, you have to trust that they won’t transgress the boundaries that were set.

So, how does one get to the point that they are willing to participate in any of that deviant behavior? Well, the answer is communication.

If there is only one thing that we should all learn from BDSM, if there is one thing that BDSM practitioners ought to learn from BDSM, it is the art of communication. Talk to your partner about all aspects of what you want sexually, and more importantly, what you don’t want. It is important to have a conversation about roles in the relationship because even the most vanilla of relationships has roles. Who cooks, who cleans, who mows the lawn are all part of a partnership and ought to be discussed. Those conversations are the very ones that build trust. The trust to be willing to bend over and let your partner spank your ass or the trust that it takes to simply be with another person. Depositphotos_189050190_xl-2015

Yes, BDSM is deviant because, according to the dictionary,  deviant means that something departs from usual or accepted standards, especially in social or sexual behavior and BDSM depends on good communication, which is something that most of us don’t do well.

Fuck Affirmative Consent

I have been reading a number of articles about affirmative consent lately, and I have to tell you that I’m fed up with it. I saw one article, written anonymously for some reason, by a woman who doesn’t want to be asked for affirmative consent about everything a man does. She, I am assuming it was written by a woman, wants to mock the man who asks if he should kiss her. She wants men to take a risk, and to her, I say, yes, right on. I’m not about to ask if I can kiss you or fuck you. Hell, no. EV005331

In fact, if you want me to kiss you, to smack your ass, to fuck you, you damn well better beg for it because quite frankly, if you don’t, I’m just not all that interested.

“Can I kiss you?”

Bullshit.

“Do you want me to kiss you?” “Yes?” “It doesn’t sound like you want me to?” “I didn’t hear a please in there.”

Hands in Chains“Fuck you?” “No, I’m not going to fuck you.” “Try again.” “Ask me…beg me to fuck you.” At that point, I might consider it.

We have a problem with consent these days. In fact, we have a serious problem with communication in general, and no one knows what the hell their roles are.

Do I follow?

Do I lead?

What do you want?

I don’t know? What do you want?”two young beautiful lovers relax on a bed, girl lying on a bed, and guy hugs from behind. His finger in her mouth

What do you want to eat?

Whatever you want.

You decide.

Here is the point. Consent and communication, in general, can be as sexy as fuck. The problem is that we have some of the least insightful people on the planet trying to teach it.

For example, if you want to be a badass, macho, dominant motherfucker, you don’t grab a woman or a man and kiss her or him. That is some weak shit. You make them kiss you.

Beautiful Girl in Lingerie and Stockings front ManAnd screw affirmative consent, if they aren’t begging to be fucked, they don’t deserve it.

Aoi and Ethan write Erotica

My main characters from Master’s Degree decided that they wanted to write erotica. Here is what happened.

He leaned back in the chair as Allison, the leggy blond, knelt between his legs. Slowly she reached up, unsnapped the button on his jeans. She grabbed the zipper that begrudgingly unclenched its teeth, revealing his massive member. woman kneeling

“Really? That’s what you’ve got? Massive member and unclenching teeth?” Asked Aoi from between Ethan’s legs.

“Hush, I’m trying to describe the perfect blow-job. Now put your mouth on my cock.”

“While it’s still in your underwear?”

“Yes.”

Evan could feel her hot breath through the thin fabric separating her sweet, hot mouth from his throbbing manhood. Slowly she peeled down the waistband and let the tip of her tongue swipe across his…

“Peel, peel.”

“I’m peeling.”

“Now just lick the top.” Aoi lets her tongue slide over his head.

“Oh my god, that’s good. Hold on.”

…the tip of her tongue swiped Evan’s helmet. He felt…

Aoi burst out laughing.

“What?”

“Evan’s helmet?” Her whole body was shaking with laughter.

“It looks like a helmet. It’s hard.” Aoi buried her face in his crotch. Her amusement showed no signs of subsiding.

“I don’t know if you should be laughing that close to my cock.” The laughing, though, was contagious.

“Give me this.” Aoi took the notebook Ethan was using to describe his blowjob. She zippered him up and buttoned his jeans.

Allison flicked the button of his jeans and it snapped open. The zipper spread like the smile on Evan’s face. The head of his cock peeked over the top of his waistband like a Muppet.

“What the hell is that?”

“What?”

“It peeks like a Muppet?”

“It looks like Beaker,” Aoi said, cocking her head to one side to look at it. praying_by_nahuaconetl

“It’s going to run away like Beaker if you keep that up.”

“Bunsen Honeydew?”

“Oh my god! Give me that back.” Ethan took back his notebook and flung it across the room. He grabbed Aoi’s hair. She froze. “Now suck that cock like a dirty little whore.” Aoi put her tongue on the tip of his cock and took the pearl that formed there before letting his head into her mouth. Her lips sealed the ridge of his cock while her tongue explored his tense, smooth head. Ethan closed his eyes and quickly forgot the world. Aoi then grabbed the waistband of his jeans and underwear and tugged. Ethan lifted so that she could get them down to his thighs. She never let his cock fall from her lips.

“You’re my good little whore,” he said.

“Mmmm,” she moaned with her mouth full of cock.

Ethan pulled her off him by her hair. “Are you my good little whore?”

“I’m your whore. I’m your whore.” She said.

“Then suck that cock like the whore you are.”

Aoi plunged her mouth onto his member again. This time she took all of him and he held her down by the back of her head. She gagged.

“That’s my whore.” He said.

When she came up for air, Ethan slid his hand under her throat, preventing her from taking him again without applying pressure there. Still, she forced her mouth onto his cock knowing full well that she would have to fight him to take all of him. She desperately wanted him in her mouth and throat and was willing to struggle through the pain and lack of oxygen to get it. Aoi gagged again and came up gulping air. She just needed to fill her lungs before she fought through the pressure on her throat to take him in again. A third time she gagged. Ethan let go of her throat and grabbe

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d the sides of her head so he could fuck her mouth without mercy. He pushed her down and pulled her up like a toy. He fucked her fast and hard until he felt himself well up inside. Reflexively, Ethan pushed her down and held her in place as he shot into her mouth and throat. She greedily took every drop of him. As his body relaxed, she placed her head in his lap, but he pulled her up onto him. She curled up in a ball in his arms, and he kissed her head.

“Not like Beaker at all,” she smiled. “More like Statler.”

Sales Goals

I am going to try a new approach to my writing goals. Due to work commitments and other life events, I am slow to realize my writing goals. For example, I intended to have a second book and half of a third book done by December 2018. The six months leading up to December had other ideas. Nevertheless, I create and adjust goals as needed. For example, right now I am determined to finish the first draft of LDJ: Master’s Degree in the next 30 days. You will know when I reach that goal.

What I don’t have and never thought about were sales goals. I was under the impression, “If you write it, they will come.” That is not the case. People need to find the book before they read it. They need a reason to give it a chance.

Therefore, I’m going to use the same approach I have to writing. I am going to create sales goals. For the rest of January my sales goal is 60 copies of Long Dark Journey: The Story of Us in any format. I have to hit those numbers because in February my sales numbers will increase.

I am still working out a plan but here are a couple of ideas. First, I’m in need of a sales team. The best sales team consists of the the people who have previously read the book. If each reader can get two more people to read the book, I will reach my goal. Then if I can convince only ten new people to pick up the book, I will exceed my goal.

Secondly, since my social media numbers have increased, I will redirect them to some of the free things I’ve done including short story extras found here on WordPress and my YouTube videos. If people sample the work, they should be excited to read more.

The goals to start are modest and will increase. So, let’s get to work and start spreading the news on a book that really is a good bang for your buck. Everyone has limited funds to spend on books and entertainment. This one is well worth it.

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