Eroticon 2015 Meet & Greet

NAME (and Twitter name if you have one)

Charlie Powell, and on Twitter, @sexblogofsorts.

Is this your first time at Eroticon? If No, what is your favourite memory from a previous Eroticon and if Yes, what are you most looking forward to at Eroticon 2015?

Ah, so I was actually going to lead with this, but I’ll answer the question here, instead. No; 2014 was my first time and to say that anxiety got the better of me would be putting it mildly. I had a Sunday only ticket last year, but I only made it to Kristina Lloyd’s session, and then had to be almost physically dragged back by her to the readings and afternoon tea. At one point, away from the conference, I pretty much downed a glass of warm wine to try and get my nerves under control. I spoke to very few people, don’t think I really introduced myself to any, and so, yeah, hopefully this year will be better. Please be gentle with me, and if I run away, it’s almost certainly me, not you…

Which 3 sessions have you already earmarked as definitely going to?

There’s a definite theme coming through in my choices, the top two of which are Remittance Girl‘s Writing Jouissance: Pleasure, Pain and Madness and Stella Ottewill‘s On Edge: Writing the dark side of eroticism. Molly‘s photography session also features high on my list.

What drink will you be ordering at the bar on the Saturday night?

The Saturday night drinks is the one thing I’m not currently planning to attend, as I think I might need some down time by that point. If I’m not there, you may find me wallowing in your bath tub, should you be lucky enough to have one. If I am there, Sauvignon Blanc, please.

If you wrote an autobiography what would it be called?

Er, I think maybe I already have one.

Where are you writing this post and what 5 things can you see around you (not including the device you are writing on)?

Currently my living space has begun to resemble my old student room from my uni days. The clutter includes drying laundry, a half-drunk bottle of white wine, some chocolate chip brioche, a large pack of Duracell AA batteries and the latest Judy Blume novel.

And the last one… If you could go out to dinner with any 5 sex bloggers or erotic writers, regardless of whether they are coming to Eroticon or not who would they be?

Meeting Girlonthenet is something I’m really looking forward to, since she was kind enough to host a guest post for me when I first started blogging. Aside from that, I don’t like having favourites, so I’ll stick with my other 4 (non-erotic) fantasy dinner guests: Gary Barlow, Jarvis Cocker, Nigella Lawson and Max Irons (sorry, GOTN!)

Just missionary: why *anyone* can write a sex blog

It looks like I had it all planned out, doesn’t it? I think I’ve even gone so far as to claim in an earlier post that the whole ‘(of sorts)’ thing was designed to let me write about anything I wanted because I don’t believe that there’s any reason to split blogs into strict genres. It’s almost believable.

Except it’s actually bullshit. The real reason I tagged the qualifying bit on the end is that I’m so clearly *not* a sex blogger – six sexual partners, five of them for one night only, a fear of receiving oral, a flirtation with a d/s dynamic that wasn’t even a thing when I started writing SBOS – I wanted to write about sex, but I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously.

Where am I going with this? Well, I read this post by Girl on the Net earlier and started thinking about which of my posts get the highest hit rate or number of retweets. It’s harder for me to tell than her – the majority of my posts have similar figures – but without a doubt, two types of posts get retweeted more than others. The sex ones and the ones in which I write about my relationship with my body.

But you’re not reading me for the filth. The sex I have, d/s dynamic or not, is pretty vanilla. My love life is a car crash, but I hope you’re not reading me for that reason, either. I hope you’re reading me because you can relate. I hope you’re reading me because I try to capture the mundanities and the day-to-day dramas of my life as much as I do the ‘Wow!’ moments.

One thing I’ve learned in the course of blogging is that I don’t want to document all the sex I have, and certainly not in public. Generally I’ll write about sex for one of two reasons: because a particular detail is haunting me, or because I’ve learned something about myself. If I wrote about every sexual encounter, it would leave you cold. Fucking can be as dull to read about as anything else.

If Girl on the Net gets the urge to do any more stats analysis, I’d be really interested to know how the posts about her relationship stack up against the really filthy ones on throat fucking and the like. Because I’m a fan of both but it tends to be the ones about navigating the realities of life with her partner (including the sex they have) that stay with me the longest. And again, not because my reality is in any way similar, but because I’d rather there was one cock, one cunt and an insight into the emotional dynamics behind the sex than three cocks, tits everywhere and a face covered in jizz at the end of the post.

If it sounds like I’m slagging off posts about the kind of sex acts the majority of us might never try, I’m really not. Hell, I’d never have stood in uncomfortably damp knickers in the queue for security at Gatwick if it hadn’t been for this post. It’s just that I wish there were more sex blogs out there and I wonder if what puts people off is not just the thought of putting the most intimate aspects of their lives out there for the world to read about, but the fact that they don’t think they’re having the right kind of sex for a sex blog.

There’s no kind of right sex for a sex blog. If you want to write about it, there’s a good chance I’ll want to read about it. Even if it’s just missionary.

Spreading the Love

I make no secret of the fact that I don’t really believe in the categories we divide blogs into, even if, for ease, my blog reader is set up that way. Fashion. Beauty. Food. Sex. Travel. Lifestyle. Don’t they all have stuff in common?

If I write about why I love matching underwear, is that sex blogging, or fashion?

Erotica inspired by nail polish. Beauty, or sex?

Sex I’ve had overseas. Isn’t that travel, too?

You get the idea.

I’ve wanted, for a while, to set up something regular to encourage people to write something based on a monthly prompt, a prompt that could be interpreted in ways that fit with all of the above.

And then the idea became fully-formed sort of accidentally. One day I clicked the ‘Log in with Facebook’ button on Pinterest, and because I was Facebooking as Charlie, Charlie’s Pinterest account was born. I had no idea how I might use it (much like the Tumblr I recently created), and then it occurred to me that every month I could have a board of pictures on a certain theme, and you guys can use it a springboard for a post, should you feel so inclined. I’ll post links to all the entries in a monthly round up post. There won’t be prizes, but I may send out the occasional Twix, as Girl on the net once used to do for posts I particularly love.

This is not restricted to the six blog categories I mentioned above, either. If you write a different kind of blog and you have an idea that fits with the prompt, join in! It can be fiction or non-fiction, image or words. The whole idea is to break down the artificial boundaries between blog types and get people reading great stuff they might not otherwise find.

I have a few ideas for monthly themes so far. Glitter (fuck, I love glitter at the moment), Texture, Inspirational Quotes. If you have suggestions and you’d like me to add them to the list, please let me know in the comments below. The first prompt will go up on April 1st.

And if you’re looking for a writing challenge in the meantime, why not try this? You’ve only got one week left! (Competition closes 23.59 GMT, April 2nd).

On the twelfth day of Christmas: Anne Thériault

I knew there would be two problems when it came to writing this post: the first is a problem I’ve had with many of the blogs that I’ve spotlighted in this series – Anne wrote so much great stuff in 2014 that picking three posts was bloody hard work. The second problem was much more mundane. As you may have noticed, there’s an acute accent in Anne’s surname and I still have no idea what the keyboard shortcuts are for accents on a Macbook. So, if anyone can help with that… (I copied and pasted from Google to get in the post title).

Anne is, in my opinion, the best kind of feminist blogger/tweeter. Her posts are thoughtful, intelligent and cover a huge range of subjects and her Twitter feed is both interesting and funny, the humour often coming courtesy of her three year old. i can’t remember how or at what point in the year I discovered this blog, but god, it fast became one of my favourites.

As with many of the bloggers I read, one of my favourite posts here was a depression/anxiety piece called Life Goes On And Other Garbage, about how frustrating it can be when you’re not coping with life and people tell that ‘life goes on,’ in a way that’s intended to comfort. We don’t all look forward to tomorrow, we don’t all enjoy weekends. In this post, Anne reflects how it can be hard that life moves on not only when things are bad, but when they’re good, as well – that even the best moments have to end. I promise it’s not as depressing as it sounds though, and it ends on a great note, and a feeling I share: that sometimes, when things are really bad, just knowing that people take the time to read your stuff helps.

My second favourite post was about death. God, I’m not doing a great job on the hardsell here, am I? For Alicia, though, is beautiful, in every sense. It’s a tribute, and one that notices details that a formal eulogy might never do: ‘She loved words – scratch that, she lived for words. She wielded them with an economy and precision that made me deeply envious,’ but it’s also a musing on the peculiarities and the fragility of the human body, a fantastic example of being in the moment and being aware of tiny, seemingly inconsequential details, of how sometimes the things that seem too flimsy to blog about – funeral wear, for example, can really make a piece of writing, and lastly, on that weird feeling of both being a grown up and being endlessly surprised by that fact.

My favourite favourite post was “You Know I Love You A Lot Too Even If I Sometimes Get Impatient” – god, how this resonated! I tell the people I love that I love them a lot, and yes, it’s as much about seeking reassurance as it is about making them feel loved, much as it makes me cringe to admit it. I want everyone to like me, impossible though that is, and the fear that they don’t makes me anxious, and the anxiety makes me bitchy. It’s a vicious circle. I cannot possibly summarise everything I love about this post, so here’s an extract instead:

‘I have a hard time understanding that I can still have conflict with people that I love. In my head, it seems so black and white: either you love me or you don’t. And if you’re angry at me, or frustrated with me, or hurt by something that I’ve done, then you don’t love me. And if you don’t love me, it’s almost certainly because of something I’ve done, some way in which I’ve fucked up. If you don’t love me, I probably deserve it.

And so I melt down into that sobbing, gibbering mess and feel like I can’t breathe and feel like the world is ending and feel like I am not worthy of anyone’s love. Like it’s somehow just a weird trick of fate that I have a husband and a son and lots and lots of friends. I feel as if when I have any kind of conflict with someone, it’s because they’re finally seeing the real me, the bad me, and now that the jig is up they’ll never love me again.’

You’ll find Anne’s homepage here.

That’s it for this series – this year I’ll try to do a better job of recording my favourite reads so that I can be more organised about these posts come the end of 2015.

PS Yes. I know. The twelfth day of Christmas has long gone. In my defence, my local bakery is still selling Galette des rois, so I figure I’m fine.

PPS The clever dicks among you may have noticed that Anne, being ‘A,’ should’ve been the first post in the series, not the last. In my defence, her blog is called ‘The Belle Jar,’ which is why she came last in the alphabetical list. I just fucked up the titling of the post, ok?

On the eleventh day of Christmas: Remittance Girl

I’ve mentioned a few times recently that I wrote my undergrad dissertation on sex and fantasy in the modern female novel. At the time I had no idea I’d end up blogging and no particular interest in female desire – I just wanted to write about sex. But the more literary criticism I read, the more it fascinated me – and continues to fascinate me – which is why I love Remittance Girl’s blog.

Remittance Girl writes a mix of what I’d term academic writing about sex and dark erotic fiction. I don’t read it and understand it straight off, usually – it’s writing that bubbles in my head for hours and leaves me wishing that I’d had more time at uni to explore these topics in more depth. It’s writing that makes me want to go and read Lacan again, properly, even though people continually tell me that’s a terrible, terrible idea and in my saner moments I’m inclined to agree. Lacan is bloody hard work.

But RG’s blog allows me to dip in and out of this kind of stuff, which is fantastic. So let’s start with a post that includes thoughts on Lacan: Jouissance, Hard Limits & an Ass Covering Culture, in which she explores what Lacan means by jouissance  and looks at in relation to why her own limits with sexual partners remain fluid.

Secondly, I’m going to cheat a bit, and include a post that was written at the end of 2013, because I started reading Remittance Girl’s archives in the wrong direction and loved this before I realised it didn’t fit into my window. The post is called HandSome Devil, and looks, with specific reference, at Peter O’Toole, at how distracting and sexy a man’s hands can be. And frankly, I couldn’t agree more, hence why I’m including it here.

Last, but not at all least, is a piece of erotic fiction, Something More Than You. I don’t think I could ever get off to most of what RG writes; but nor do I think that means it’s not erotic, or that it doesn’t speak to my kinks. It’s bleak and relentless and it really, really does speak to them. And, in a world that seems to classify erotic romance as more about fucking a man with a helicopter than about anything actually erotic, writing like this is a huge relief to me. An extract:

‘He let her go because the room was too close. She could not sleep in his embrace, could not pull enough oxygen from the air he’d breathed. Love pressed on her chest even as her hips arched upwards, tricking his fingers deeper. Until her cunt had eaten his wedding ring and she could taste metal through the bloody membrane of her chewed-up cheeks and swallowed the chalky impossibility of it all.’

You can find Remittance Girl’s homepage here.

On the tenth day of Christmas: Molly Moore

I met Molly a couple of months ago in real life. First at a book launch at Sh! and then I went for dinner with her and the lovely @Domsigns and we ended up chatting for *hours.*

I feel like I’ve said that a lot while writing these posts. ‘I’ve met this person in real life this year. And this person. And this person.’ But fuck, meeting those people has made a difference. It’s not that I don’t believe that friendships that exist only on Twitter don’t count. I totally believe that they do. At the end of 2013 though, even in the early part of 2014, Charlie Powell was just a name I used. She wasn’t a person, she didn’t have a personality, she was just a way of shielding my real identity. And although everyone I’ve met in RL knows my real name, those meetings have brought Charlie to life. They’ve made her *real.*

If this all seems irrelevant, it’s not, really. Because the other thing that brought Charlie to life this year was #SinfulSunday, which is, of course, Molly’s excellent meme. I try to emphasise how good it’s been for me often, but I figure there’s no harm in saying it again now.

I decided not to include any of Molly’s photo posts in this round up, for two reasons. Firstly, because everyone else I’ve written about posts primarily written content, and secondly because it would be damn well impossible to choose. *All* of Molly’s photography is beautiful. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m not going to touch on Sinful Sunday at all: my first post of Molly’s is In a New Light, where she writes about taking her friend’s photo for the first time. I wasn’t sure about including this at first, because it’s not all Molly’s words, but to me it’s such a clear and true reflection of the values that underpin Molly’s blogs and memes and made such a difference to my 2014 that I couldn’t *not* include it.

Secondly, the post she wrote for my anti-clickbait competition: Sniffy. I completely get what Molly’s talking about here, and sure, I’ve done/do it too, but would I have had the guts to write this unabashedly about it? No way. So this is the piece that makes me want to continue to push out of my comfort zone when blogging in 2015.

And finally, a piece that I ended up sharing a few times on Twitter, Stripping Away the Shadows, where what stuck with me the most was how Molly talks about using her blog as a positive communication tool within her relationship. I read a lot more about the dangers of blogging about a partner, blogging about your sex life, about the ethics, the pitfalls, the breaking of trust. It was just so refreshing to read something that looked at the whole issue from a totally different angle, and if it isn’t something to aspire to, I don’t know what is. Here’s an extract:

‘I have always stated that I primarily write my blog for myself and that is true but if there is a perceived audience within my head then for the most part it is @domsigns. He is clearly not the only audience, but much of what I have written and posted here has in some way or other been an extended love letter to him. Sometimes they are desires and fantasies, sometimes they are a lust filled retelling of things we have done together, sometimes a thank you, often a declaration of wants and needs, and nearly always an expression of love.’

You can find Molly’s homepage here.

On the ninth day of Christmas: Malin James

I like to think that I’m pretty brave in my writing, but am I as brave in my reading? Perhaps not. In life, I’ve tended to shy away from things that challenge me, even though I’m coming to realise, largely via my RL female friendships, that people/things that stretch you and encourage you to raise your game are a good thing, not a bad thing.

Because excellent writing can be intimidating. Tamsin Flowers wrote brilliantly about self-doubt and writer envy here, and I get that a bit with Malin’s writing. I want to be that good. I want the discipline, the commitment to the written word, the feel for what makes beautiful prose, and beautiful sex writing especially. And on good days, I think that in time I could be. On bad days? Yeah, not so much.

Malin also has enviable poise and seems, from her blog posts, to be comfortable in her own skin and with her sexuality. I’m still very much climbing that hill, and as I said when I wrote my post on Exhibit A, I don’t always find it easy to read stuff that’s straightforward and positive about sex. Ah. I nearly wrote ‘uncomplicated,’ there, and then I took it out. Because, if we’re moving on to the good stuff, and why I admire Malin’s writing so damn much, it’s because she’s not afraid to acknowledge that relationships are complicated learning curves – she doesn’t gloss her own life and make it seem like it’s always been easy.

Anyway. Top three. There isn’t much I can say about my first choice, On Hang Ups, other than that it embodies everything that I’ve said above. While I’m here saying I wish I could write about sex with anything like the grace that Malin does, this post shows her on a very similar journey.

Secondly, a very recent post, In Praise of Quiet, which is all about New Year’s Eve. I share Malin’s love of spending NYE peacefully and from now on I might try and use it as an evening for champagne and writing, inspired not only by this, but also by Ella Dawson, who does the same. It just seems like a very sane, serene way to enter the chaos of a new year.

And lastly, We Don’t Do That: On Vulnerability, which was also one of the top posts on last month’s e[lust]. This post is all at once heartbreaking and beautiful – the pain of past events shines through, but the prose is so good I keep coming back to it. Here’s an extract:

‘“We don’t do that,” he says, looking around, as if his girlfriend had just walked in. She hasn’t, of course. She’s in Oregon. She trusts him. She told him so.

My face is burning as if I’ve been slapped. My lungs hurt. There’s too much sharp, sudden hurt. I hurt too much to cry.

We don’t do that. We don’t do that.

“We don’t do what,” I ask.

He gives me a look, like I should know better. And the reality is that I should.

“Never mind.” I say. “Forget it. Thanks for the drink.”

I look away, into the grimy mirror behind the bar. My face is sharp and my mouth is hard. I look cold and dangerous. That isn’t my face. Except that now it is.’

You can find Malin’s homepage here.

On the eighth day of Christmas: @Juniper3Glasgow

I never know quite how to refer to Juniper (or other bloggers with a first name only pseudonym) when I mention her in posts. Maybe we should pretend her surname is Glasgow, which would stop me having to refer to her by her Twitter handle as though I’ve only just stumbled across her.

Because I’ve not. I stumbled upon her right at the very beginning of blogging, or rather she stumbled across me, I think – probably via the guest post I wrote for Girlonthenet.

I like to think of her as my Twitter bestie: I love her writing, I love her Twitter feed (her referendum day #HotScots being a particular highlight) and her quiet, calm sanity and dry sense of humour have been a massive support at many times during 2014. I met her for real in the summer, too, and can confirm that she’s just as lovely in person.

Anyway, on to my top Juniper posts of the year. First is the story she wrote for my #Polished competition, Marrakech. It’s woven through (excuse the pun) with beautiful little touches of humour and I love that she has a beautiful way of picking up on the less obvious stuff that makes men attractive – here it’s the shopkeeper’s arms, in the story she wrote more recently for Exhibit A, it was a freckle on the main character’s cock. She’s a detail girl, and it works brilliantly.

Secondly, Wedding. Sometimes when I write posts which focus on the build up, the anticipation, I get comments asking if I’m going to blog what happened next. This is a great example of why sometimes the anticipation is the best bit of the story.

And finally, Lanes. God, this is a hot little piece. I’ll admit that it caters to all my kinks (dark alleyways, strangers, new places…) but it’s also romantic as hell. Here’s your extract:

‘An affair, perhaps? Were they stealing a half hour in each other’s company? Is he whispering to her, ‘I really want to take you home, and fuck your brains out, but I can’t’? Are they tugging at each other clothes, is he running his fingers around the waistband of her jeans, wishing it could go further, but knowing that today, it will only be a moment in a lane.’

You can find Juniper’s homepage here.

On the seventh day of Christmas: Jilly Boyd

Damn, I wanted to do all of the ‘J’ posts today. Or yesterday, in fact. I fell over in a very muddy way, instead, but that’s a whole other blog post. Today, the spotlight is on the beautiful Jilly Boyd, who blogs at

I’ve met her, very briefly, in person, and I hope to get to know her better this year, because she seems lovely. But I’ve only really been reading her blog on a regular basis since she entered both my Polished and ‘Don’t read clickbait, read this instead’ competitions, and I realised I wanted to read much much more of her writing.

As is becoming the predominant theme of these posts, when I read back through her archives there were more than three posts that I really wanted to feature: six, in fact, in Jilly’s case. But I’m limited to three, and these are the three I went with:

Firstly, a post on a subject very close to my heart at the moment: Sex, depression and me. This is brave for two reasons – not only because writing about mental health is a hard thing to do, especially when it’s your own mental health, but also because it makes it clear just how much Jilly values a healthy sex life – she’s not at all willing to just sit back and accept that antidepressants are a fucking nightmare for your sex drive.

Secondly, Real, which is sex writing in a form I’ve never seen it before. I love the poetic quality of the way this is written and how accurately it evokes the fragmented thoughts that really do occur during sex.

Finally, Home is like the dust in a wine cellar, which I got the feeling was a post that Jilly herself wasn’t that keen on (do correct me if I’m wrong, Jilly!), because she’s inserted a jump into this post before you can read the main body of it. She says it’s a ‘long vent about things,’ – I’d argue that it’s much more than that.

I’ve mentioned a few times how much place and sense of place fascinates me, and this conjured up what little of Brussels I know as soon as I read it. It’s beautifully self-aware on personal development, too. Here’s my favourite paragraph:

‘The feeling was already creeping over me as I waited for my train to my home town, having just come out of an extended edition of a Eurostar journey. I was pretty much alone on what seemed like a never ending platform. In front of me lay the angular, almost Brutalist and grey architecture of Brussels, a shower of rain clouding it with an even bigger sense of post-apocalyptic darkness than it usually had emanating from it.’

On the sixth day of Christmas: Head in Book

Willingly suspend disbelief, if you will, readers – it’s still the sixth day of Christmas, ok? I’d really like to still get these all in before January 5th, which will mean a handful of posts a day most days until then, but forgive me. It’s still important for me to share what I’ve read and loved. Massive thanks also to Jade at Kink and Poly for saying how much she’s enjoying this mini-series.

So, Head in Book, aka Catherine. On the face of it perhaps a mummy-blogger, but once you start reading, so much more than that, even if you don’t have (yet, or never have any intention of having) children. Feminist, mum, lawyer and, as far as I can gather from our infrequent Twitter interactions, all round lovely lady. Oh, and her Twitter header is a picture of her bookshelf – what more can I say?

I tried to work out, reading through her archives, what post drew me into her blog and i think I must have clicked through from the post she wrote about the Michael Gove Of Mice and Men saga, or the Kirstie Allsopp ‘Just have a baby when you’re 25, darling’ furore, both of which I went on to write about myself.

I love her writing, and as usual, I had more than three posts that I wanted to link to here – for the first time though, two of them were consecutive posts, on totally different subjects. The first is a post from back in February, called How to talk to boys about periods, which I hadn’t read before today, but which struck me because a) I had noticed that going to the loo with small children is a pain for women, but periods hadn’t even occurred to me and b) there’s a paragraph in the middle which makes Catherine seem at one with her body and her menstrual cycle in a way that, at the moment, I can only dream of.

The two remaining ones are the consecutive posts, written in May. Marriage guidance for my six year old showcases Catherine’s humour and sees her daughter trade an X-box for married life in a mansion with a man who makes cake for a living. Seriously, what’s not to love?

And finally, Mother tongue, which resonated not only because of the shared languages-graduate background and love of words, but because I too have that habit of thinking ‘I don’t the like the word we commonly use for x or y – the connotations are all wrong.’ There’ll be a similar post from me soon, hopefully. Anyway, here’s an extract:

‘Words matter. Words don’t reflect what we see, they refract and reframe it. This isn’t the subject of a blogpost, of course, it’s the subject of a life’s work. But I have been thinking more and more, about the words we use around motherhood and the way in which language itself distorts our perceptions and colours – poisons, even – the debates about stuff which really matters.’

You can find Catherine’s home page here.