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.
My Crazy-Busy Writing Life: The Reality of Being an Author
I used to think my life was going to change when I got published. Those were the dark days when I wasn’t even sending out query letters - I was too afraid to send out query letters, so I just thought about sending out query letters. And sometimes I would send a few, and they’d come back rejected, and I’d think longingly of that day in the future when I would have an agent and get published and everything would be so much easier. In the meantime, I kept writing, and eventually I wrote enough crap that I started to write things that were actually pretty good, and then I landed an agent and signed a book contract and now I’m retired and I sit on the beach sipping margaritas and typing all day.
Except that isn’t at all what happened.
It’s true, a few things have changed since I went from “writer” to “author.” First off, I never get tired of using the words “my agent,” and I giggle every time because who am I, a Hollywood starlet? That’s been pretty awesome. And I definitely have more confidence in my writing now, since people wiser than me tell me it’s good and then help me make it better. But the general, day-to-day part of being “one who writes books” hasn’t changed. It turns out the reality of being a published author is pretty similar to the reality of being an unpublished author, except with more deadlines. I manage my busy schedule through two key actions: 1) paying attention to the seasons of busyness for each activity, and 2) being a judicious steward of my time.
Regarding seasons of busyness: not every task I do is full-throttle all the time. During research paper grading time, Drama production week, right before the yearbook deadline, final paper season for my graduate coursework - these are the times when I put aside what’s not immediately pressing. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority, and so I carefully cultivate what I’m not going to focus on. For someone like me who’s a recovering perfectionist, this is difficult every single time.
The other key has been learning to be a judicious steward of my time. This is an ongoing challenge, but I’ve become much better at it than in years past. When I’m working on something, I just work on that one thing, whether it’s grading papers, reading a novel, or writing/editing my own work. Then I set a limit on each task: I’m going to grade 8 papers, or read 5 chapters, or write for one hour. Dividing my work into manageable doses makes it sustainable for me.
The reality of being an author is that I don’t have any more hours in the day than I did when I was just writing for myself, and if I don’t prioritize my writing, it doesn’t happen. The other reality of being an author is that if I’m not diligent with myself, I fall into some unproductive patterns. When I’m working under deadlines, I give myself no wiggle room and I’m incredibly prolific. But when I’m between projects, I languish. I recently finished revisions of Combustion, a Steampunk erotic romance, and that marks the last novel I have in the publishing pipeline right now. In addition to Purely Professional that came out earlier this year, I have Playing Knotty releasing in March and Combustion releasing in May. But I have three more first drafts - not even first drafts, zero drafts, because they aren’t good enough to be called first drafts yet - sitting on my hard drive, untouched. I need to get the first of those polished up and sent to my agent to keep the publication wheels turning, so before the new year I’m going to crack open the dusty hard drive annals and launch into revisions.
It may not be beaches and margaritas, but it’s still all part of the job, and I absolutely love it.
“What about your fantasies?”
“What? What is it?” Catching her hesitation, Max looked up from the Scrabble board.
“It’s just...” She paused and took a swig of beer. “I’ve had a lot of crushes on men in positions of power. My volleyball coach back in high school, my internship coordinator in college, a few professors...” Realizing he was grinning, she blushed, remembering he was a professor. “Right. Anyway, I never acted on any of them.”
“And yet you complain that you date weak men.” He swirled the beer around in his bottle and held it up to the light, his gaze thoughtful and distant.
“Well, I don’t want some guy to boss me around.” To hide the discomfort she suddenly felt, Bridget looked down at the board. She played reach off the H in hinder and fumbled as she chose four new tiles.
“I think we both know that’s a lie.“ Max said smoothly, and he drank his beer. “I’ll bet you’re just afraid of what kind of woman you would be if you gave in to those urges.” He rubbed a tile between a thumb and forefinger, then set it back on his shelf. “I’ve been doing this a long time, Bridget. You responded today like a natural submissive. You liked more than just the sex. You liked all of it.”
She set down her beer and looked at him. “All right.” She tried not to sound defensive. “So what does that mean?”
“It doesn’t have to mean anything.” Max shrugged. “Maybe this afternoon, I just want to play some Scrabble with you and order a pizza. But when we’re done with all this experimenting, you’re going to have a lot to write about.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Elia Winters has always been a New England girl, despite having spent much of her childhood in Florida. She holds a degree in English Literature and teaches at a small rural high school where she runs too many extracurricular activities. She balances her love of the outdoors with a bottomless well of geekiness.
Elia dabbles in many genres, but erotic romance has been one of her favorites since she first began sneaking her mother’s romance novels. In high school, she kept her friends entertained with a steady stream of naughty stories and somehow never got caught passing them around. Her erotic fiction and poetry have been published online at Clean Sheets and Scarlet Letters under a different name. Elia currently lives in New England with her loving husband and their odd assortment of pets.
Elia’s virtual life is as busy as her real life. In addition to her website, http://eliawinters.com/, you can also find her on:
Purely Professional is available from:
Carina Press http://ebooks.carinapress.com/AE496C3B-2369-43F1-8ECC-4F7F270DD680/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=818B948E-17EF-4F91-8CE7-998D91DC788B
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/purely-professional-elia-winters/1116912916?ean=9781426897863&itm=1&usri=9781426897863&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201
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