Sionnach Wintergreen

author of romance and fantasy


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My First Paperback!

Lover, Destroyer is now available in paperback! This is the first timeLD book sample I’ve offered something in a format other than electronic.

I prefer ebooks, but I realized from an informal survey on my Facebook page that many people prefer paperback. I’m going to try to offer everything in mixed formats, but it will take a while. The process of formatting the manuscript and getting new book covers takes time and money. It’s exciting, however, so I’m sure I’ll get to all of them eventually.

Get you paperback copy of my m/m erotic romance, Lover, Destroyer here!


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But…I Like it Rough

So, my first negative review ever was about the only book I’ve published that has been a commercial success. The reviewer criticized the BDSM in my M/M romance, Lover, Destroyer, as being “borderline hardcore” and violent with “a frail veneer of consent.”

What hurt most about these comments, once I was able to separate my bruised writer feelings and set them aside, was the fact that it felt like an attack on my lifestyle. I don’t read about BDSM in books. The BDSM in my story might be a bit edgy because that’s how I like it. I’ve been a practitioner for about twenty-five years.

In the Dark Ages, when the Internet was in its infancy and few people had access to it, people who didn’t live in a city with a BDSM club–or who simply didn’t want to be part of a club–couldn’t just google ‘BDSM etiquette.’ They had to explore and discover things on their own. That was part of the fun.

Even in an age where such things are codified and catalogued,  accidents happen. Scenes go wrong. Feelings–and sometimes flesh–get hurt. One time my husband had to see the doctor because I bruised his spleen. He’s a wonderful sub, we’re closely bonded, and he was ready to go the next weekend. (Although I limited myself to flogging his bottom.)

Sometimes BDSM, like life, is messy and chaotic. Maybe some people like to conduct their BDSM like Vulcans in surgery–and more power to them–but I don’t. It’s  not fair to say that my way is bad simply because you don’t like it or don’t understand it. In Lover, Destroyer, which is set in a pre-industrialized world, Elarhe, a budding dom, is trying to understand what masochistic Kite wants. They are learning what works for them and discovering each other’s boundaries. They’re learning about each other.

I wanted to include a snippet from one of my sex scenes, but couldn’t find a piece tame enough. So, here’s Elarhe learning about after care following his first session with Kite.

When they were done, Elarhe removed the clamps from Kite’s nipples and sprawled on the floor, panting. Kite thudded next to him. He lifted his bandage, revealing his eyes. Elarhe stared at the high ceiling. Kite stared at him. After a moment, Kite asked, “Will you hold me?”

Elarhe couldn’t help himself and laughed at him. He stopped laughing when he saw the sincerity on Kite’s face. “I guess. I’m all sweaty.”

“So am I.” He looked rather childlike. “It’s just—it’s like I’ve been on a long journey. I need help coming home.”

Elarhe pulled Kite into his arms. Kite snuggled against his chest in a quiet, fragile way that took Elarhe by surprise.

Elarhe kissed the top of Kite’s head. “I didn’t realize there was this part. I would have done it sooner if I had known.”

“This part is just as important as the rest,” Kite said quietly, tracing one of the lean muscles in Elarhe’s arm. “You didn’t know because I failed to tell you. It’s not your fault. You performed splendidly.”

As they embraced, Elarhe realized that he needed the cuddle, too. It closed the door on their game and returned them to their normal lives. It reassured him that Kite bore him no ill will, carried no grudges. The dungeon was its own world.

 

 


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Doms Need Love, Too

Depictions of BDSM in popular media make my skin crawl. They’re rarely anything I recognize. I really hate how doms are portrayed as crazed sociopaths who enjoy hurting people in all aspects of their lives.

Um. No. We, as a group, tend to be nice people. If you met me outside of my dungeon (yes, I have one. No, it’s not the red room of pain. It’s decorated in green men and cats) you would probably find me charming and kind hearted. (At least, that’s what people tell me….) I don’t eat men for breakfast. I don’t make cutthroat business deals. I don’t try to find ways to humiliate my husband outside of our playtime, and I don’t try to control his life.

Some people do have slave contracts. Neither of us are big on formalities or paperwork, so we’ve never bothered with anything like that. BDSM has been a huge part of our romantic life during our twenty years together. We’re both creative, playful sensation-lovers, so it fits our needs well.

But other people’s ignorance still irks me. Being a dom means seeing yourself portrayed as the bad guy almost constantly. The damaged one who hurts people because he doesn’t know how to love. Why? Because vanilla sex is love? Reduced to its lowest terms, vanilla sex is just a lot of jamming various things into various holes. Love doesn’t have much to do with it. It’s what we decide it means that’s everything. The same thing is true of BDSM.

In Lover, Destroyer, although it’s fantasy romance, I tried to show BDSM as part of a loving relationship. The men have problems, but BDSM isn’t one of them. It’s no more a problem than vanilla sex is in most vanilla romances.

Lover, Destroyer is available on Amazon. Read it for free on Kindle Unlimited!

 

 


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Yesterday I watched Trump adviser Stephen Miller, with his cruel, lifeless eyes, discount the worth of the poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The poem is “The New Colossus,” a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus. It was added later, he said, and insinuated that it didn’t have anything to do with the meaning of the Statue of Liberty. I don’t understand the conservative preoccupation with the way something originally occurred. Every writer knows the first pass at something is rarely complete and almost always inadequate.

The poem and its message of sanctuary and openness, to me and to many other Americans, defines the statue–it explains its metaphor and purpose. It’s as important as the Statue of Liberty herself.  But what does any of this have to do with a blog about writing books? I write fantasy and erotic romances, those aren’t political. Except when they are. (And, honestly, they always are. Everything is political. Ursula LeGuin has said that fiction writers tell lies in order to tell the truth.)

My latest book, an erotic M/M romance set in a fantasy land, involves a young prince named Elarhe. Magic is forbidden in his land, but he has developed magical powers, so he steals away, disguised as a peasant and crosses the border to the neighboring kingdom where he hopes to explore his abilities. He is an unauthorized immigrant and finds himself doing “anything dirty and dangerous” in order to survive, including interring the bodies of victims of a tannery’s poisoned runoff. (Because I also like to sneak environmental themes into my books….)

He is treated badly in  his new land, but he never gives up and never stops trying to improve his life and make a difference. The idea to make Elarhe an immigrant arose from Trump’s stupid border wall and Muslim ban business. (I tend to react to things by writing about them. I think all writers do this whether their conscious of it or not.) When I was crafting Elarhe’s character, I very much wanted to imbue him with a confidence and optimism that I associate with immigrants. It takes a special courage to relocate to a new country. I’ve thought of doing it myself and have always felt too fearful to make the leap.

I admire people who search for their dreams. I find nothing admirable about dead-eyed, creepy little Nazis who bully reporters and think poems have no value.

 


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There’s Only One Way…

No. There isn’t. There are as many ways of doing something as there are people on the planet. I hate writing instructors (or reviewers) who act as if there is only one way of writing or one kind of book. (I know, I know. You’re not supposed to get upset with reviewers. They are entitled to their opinions, and I believe that wholeheartedly. That doesn’t mean I can’t feel butt hurt when one doesn’t understand the difference between a character-driven story and a plot-driven story.)

But back to writing tips. Years ago, I was in a writing group where one writer berated another for saying she couldn’t control her characters. I knew exactly what the ‘I can’t control them’ writer meant. To some extent, that’s how I write. My characters come to me in an organic fashion. Writing often feels more like an archeological dig than a creative process. I feel like I’m discovering the characters, discovering the story. There’s something profoundly Jungian about it.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to step in more. I’ll have a flash of inspiration for a plot point or an attitude shift and insert them and watch the story reorder itself. Or I’ll give the protagonist a nudge in the ribs. I can’t even fathom the sort of rational mind who views the characters as chess pieces and feels in control of everything. I’m not arrogant enough to think that person is wrong. I realize they are different. It’s okay for people to be different. Why do so many of us have a problem with that?

I was thinking about Kite from Lover, Destroyer today. I pick on him a lot, but I feel deeply sorry for him. As soon as I thought that, I wondered what the Vulcan from that writing group would have said. “You created his backstory! You created him–how can you feel sorry for him? That’s insane?”

Well, yeah. But I didn’t intentionally create him. He came to me that way. Damaged, possessing a frightening power, manipulated into doing something that preys on his conscience for the rest of his life. Technically, I created him. But I swear, he was broken when I found him.

There are many ways to do the same thing. Mine just happens to be a bit insane. And I’m perfectly fine with that.


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Elarhe and Kite

LD book sample I love contrast. I can’t resist unusual pairings. Elarhe and Kite, from my new erotic romance, Lover, Destroyer, are the perfect match, in my opinion, because they’re polar opposites.

Elarhe is a young, idealistic prince who left his kingdom to learn how to wield his magical powers, powers that are considered evil in his homeland. He discards everything to follow his dream and enters the Grandimanderian Empire disguised in rags. He is confident and passionate, spirited and kind. He is a creature of heart and fire.

Kite lives like a prince, but was actually an orphaned goatherd until, at thirteen, he developed a horrific magical power capable of destroying an entire city.  As an adult, he lives alone aside from his dogs and a few servants, surrounded by his wealth and a pervasive, brooding darkness. He is like a lake of still, black water hiding secrets and skeletons beneath its surface.

Lover, Destroyer explores how two such different men learn to love and understand each other while exploring BDSM and learning to appreciate each other’s boundaries.

 


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Violets

Every time I write a piece, I have a favorite chapter or scene. This excerpt from Lover, Destroyer is my favorite, partly because, even in a smutty book, I like to sneak in symbolism. In this passage, the soon-to-be-lovers Elarhe (aka “Squirrel”) and Kite have been flirting and verbally sparring for several encounters. Here, the normally dark and brooding Kite gives Elarhe a violet. Violets can symbolize humility, everlasting love, or death. In some way, all three apply here. Death, because death represents change, and this scene marks a turning point in how each views the other.

“Well, if it isn’t Darelock’s proudest urchin? How are you this fine evening, Squirrel?”
Elarhe tensed. “I’m fine.”
Kite walked up to him, smiling coldly. “You look like you’ve been rolling about in a dung heap.”
“I’ve been working. Doing an honest day’s labor. What have you been doing—buying posies all day?”
“I’ve been all day in the stacks, researching spells of the darkest nature.” He sniffed the bouquet. “The flowers are to remind me that this often dreary world is also beautiful.”
Elarhe watched him, disarmed. “The world is always beautiful,” he said softly, slowly. “Even the rain, even the mud. Everything can’t be flowers.”
Kite’s pale blue eyes seemed to mirror the violets. He gazed at Elarhe as if seeing him for the first time. After a long moment, he broke eye contact, shaking his head. “I need the flowers.” There was no pretense in his voice this time, just something quiet and melancholy. He handed a flower to Elarhe. “Sometimes we need something pure and good.”