Top 10 Timely Halloween Costumes for Couples

Lo and her guy, two Halloweens ago

It’s only three weeks to Halloween, which means that if you plan on doing something more elaborate than throwing a sheet over your head and saying BOO! a lot, you better get your act together soon. So, with that in mind, here are our top ten ideas for timely Halloween costumes for couples. We make no promises that every costume below will kink up your sex life, but you’ll certainly have fun trying):

1. Walt and Jesse from Breaking Bad, in their haz-mat suits and gas masks. (Definitely keep the masks on for sex!)

2. So you prefer a little teasing and torture, BDSM-style? Then one of you is Jesse in handcuffs and the other is Todd, serving Jesse ice cream (it doesn’t have to be Americone Dream, but it can’t be vanilla, geddit?).

3. Last Breaking Bad costume, we swear!: For retro appeal, one of you is Walter White in his grubby, baggy tighty-whities, and the other is a pregnant though emotionally underdeveloped Skylar.

4. One of you is Justin Bieber in low-slung boxer-briefs, and the other is… Justin Bieber in low-slung boxer-briefs. You’re a selfie in action! Take the camera to bed with you, of course.

5. If you plan to dress like Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke from the VMAs, we don’t want to know about it. Unless, of course, the guy in your couple dresses as Miley and the gal dresses like Robin (or you’re both gay). And most definitely bring that foam finger to bed later in the evening. (more…)

Kinky Kick-Ass Poem of the Month

You may recall that about two months ago, we were in New York City to receive an IPPY Award for our latest book, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink. While there, we met  Marty McConnell, silver medalist in the poetry category for her collection Wine for a Shotgun. When the poetry winners were each asked to perform a poem, we braced ourselves for the kind of spoken word poetry slam stuff typically found in grad school basement coffee shops. But Marty’s poem blew us away…

“150 Shades of Play” at the IPPY Awards!

We recently attended the IPPY Awards ceremony in NYC to receive our silver medals for all-around awesomeness in an independently-published sex & relationship book.150 SHADES OF PLAY: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink is now an award-winner!

While sipping our complimentary cocktails (yay, open bar!), nibbling the mediocre passed apps (free food, eh), listening to all the award announcements (there were over 100 categories!), and waiting for our 10-second turn in the spotlight, we made friends with the gold medalists in the Humor category. Husband-and-wife team Dr. Ted Eisenberg & Joyce K. Eisenberg penned The Scoop on Breasts: A Plastic Surgeon Busts the Myths. As the world-record
holder for most breast augmentations, Ted supplied the info; Joyce supplied the jokes (guess you have to have a sense of humor when you’re married to a man who’s up to his elbows in boobs all day). We’re no big fans of fake tatas, but we must say The Scoop is really nicely designed. And they win for best award photo of the night: each of them held the cleavage-festooned cover up to their chests.

When the winners in the Poetry category were announced, they were each asked to read a poem from their collections. Admittedly, we braced ourselves for major cringing. But Marty McConnell, silver medalist for Wine for a Shotgun, made us poetry converts. After asking the crowd “We’re all adults here, right?” she recited the last poem in her collection — an ode to the body and all the kinky things you can do with it — with the perfect blend of performance and restraint. Stay tuned for an excerpt of it on our site soon!

We forgot to bring a copy of our own book to hold up for our award picture, so we accosted the winners of the Outstanding E-Book Achievement Award who hadtheir book (which is actually an app) on an iPad. Peering over their shoulders before pouncing, we got a good look at Psychometry, a super cool interactive digital collection of photographs by Carol Golemboski. She and her designer kindly let us pull up a picture of our book cover and borrow the iPad for our photo.

All evening we were looking for the telltale ponytail of the co-author of Great Sex Made Simple, the Tantra book that edged us out for the gold in Sex & Relationships (damn you, Tantra!). But we didn’t meet Mark A. Michaels and his partner Patricia Johnson until our category was announced — which of course was the 69th category of the night. Talk about a long-time coming! (Bud dum ching! Speaking of which, we would be remiss in our duties if we didn’t also mention the gold medalist in the Erotica category, The Harder She Comes by D.L. King)

After our award photos were taken (which, in usual fashion, we tried to ham up as much as possible), the gold medal winners Mark & Patricia generously gave us a copy of their book Great Sex (which we’ll also excerpt on this site soon). You can tell from this gesture (and the photos in their book), they’re very giving in all areas of life.

So stayed tuned for the fruits of our networking. And don’t forget to get your copy of our AWARD-WINNING BOOK! 


“150” Won an IPPY!!!


Our book, “150 SHADES OF PLAY: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink” has won a 2013 IPPY Award!

The Independent Publishers Book Awards is the world’s largest book awards contest and the longest-running unaffiliated independent publishing awards contest (since 1996). It’s designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers.

“150 SHADES OF PLAY” was our seventh book, but our first foray into independent publishing with our new two-woman imprint, Better Half Books. We were so proud of our little kinky baby, we entered the contest. This year there were over 5000 entries — and less than 400 winners! In our category — Sexuality/Relationships — we were up against 48 other entrants!

So “150 SHADES OF PLAY” won the silver medal. We were robbed by Great Sex Made Simple: Tantric Tips to Deepen Intimacy & Heighten Pleasure which took the gold (damn you, Tantra!), and beat out Rewire Your Brain for Love: Vibrant Relationships Using the Science of Mindfulness, which received the bronze medal.

So if you haven’t already gotten your copy of “150 SHADES OF PLAY”, you now have 151 reasons to do so today! It’s an award winner, baby!

Moms Are Kinky People Too

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! Sure, you could get her some nice flowers…again. Or you could get her something she’ll really enjoy: our new book, 150 SHADES OF PLAY: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink!

Here us out: Mom’s loved the Twilight series, but secretly wished there was more sex in it. Along comes the Fifty Shades series, which is essentially Twilight fan faction, and there’s tons of sex….kinky sex. Moms across the country go gaga for it, so much so that it’s dubbed “mommy porn.”

There are just a few problems:

  • Fifty Shades doesn’t tell moms how to incorporate any of this stuff into their own lives
  • it doesn’t mention specific quality products or where to get them
  • it perpetuates myths about kink
  • it even promotes some very dubious (i.e. unsafe) behaviors and techniques

A mom friend of ours recently wrote us, saying she’s been married for aloooooong time and needs some new ideas, asking which book of ours we would recommend. We told her 150 SHADES OF PLAY: while it does cover some intense kinky stuff, it also covers the basics; it’s not visually graphic; it has a great sense of humor, which makes it fun and non-intimidating to skim with a husband or partner; it gives readers a vouyeristic look into how extreme some people can get with BDSM which might make them feel more comfortable and confident to try new, mildly kinky things. Because let’s face it: a little toy or light bondage is nothing compared to pony play!

So when making the mom in your life a Mother’s Day care package this coming May, remember: flowers are nice, but floggers are nicer.

Quickie Advice: How Can I Get Into Roleplay?

Today’s quickie question:

I don’t think I could be into role play, but I want to be…how do I start something like that with my boyfriend?

Three quick tips for ya!

  1. Blindfold your partner. It’s way easier to get into character when you don’t have to think about how silly you look in that nurse’s outfit/dog collar. Or take it in turns wearing the blindfold while you’re roleplaying together. You’d be amazed how freeing it is.
  2. Get in costume. You might be tempted to skip accessories, wigs, costumes, etc., and just try roleplaying in bed one night in your jammies. This might seem less intimidating and less forced or silly. And if that works for you, great! But you might also find that getting into costume together — even if it’s just picking out a wig or a mask or new lingerie for each other — really helps the roleplaying flow more naturally. Hey, even if you never utter a word once you’ve got that wig on, you’ll probably still act a little differently during the sex, and isn’t that the whole point?
  3. Read erotica together in bed. This will give you ideas for characters and scenarios — and will help get you in that mindset a little more naturally than saying, “Nurse, does this look infected?” (though sometimes that can work, too). We also highly recommend (of course we do!) browsing our new book in bed together for saucy ideas and roleplaying inspiration: 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink.

Quickie Advice: How Do I Get Hubby to Try Kink?

Lelo’s Etherea Silk Cuffs

Today’s quickie question:

How do I go about asking my husband to try something new…like toys, whips, bondage? Where should I go to buy them, a local store or online?

Start small — you don’t want to spring a whole drawer full of intimidating new toys like nipple clamps and whips on him. Go with something simple, like a cute little pair of fuzzy velcro cuffs. Put it in the positive: “I’d love it if we tried this” and bring it up in bed when make it part of the pillow talk — that’s a time he’ll probably be more amenable to new sexy ideas.

And include him in your exploration of products — if he’s shy or hesitant then a bricks & mortar store might be too much for him, so stick with a reputible place with high quality products and good information like, or
GoodVibes is actually selling a nice little kit with our book, some cute cuffs, a beautiful blindfold, and a nice feather tickler — it’s a great way to ease into more daring things.

150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink  is on sale now!

Erotic Deathmatch: 50 Shades of Grey VS. 150 Shades of Play

Jamie Maclean is the founder and editor of the Erotic Review Magazine, an intelligent and artsy London-based website dedicated to sex (and NOT the US-based Yelp for escorts of a similar name). So how could we all not get on?! And then he called us “New York’s coolest sex therapists” and said that our new book, 150 Shades of Play, “makes Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain look like a stationery cupboard, and Ana’s Inner Goddess like a virginal mouse.” Our inner goddesses are doing cartwheels!

We recently chatted with Jamie for an Erotic Review podcast, which you can listen to here — we talk about, amongst other things, why Fifty Shades is so successful, and whether or not we feel guilty for jumping on E.L. James’ bandwagon while simultaneously poking fun at her writing (plot spoiler: we don’t!). Here are two brief excerpts:

Jamie Maclean: Fifty Shades of Grey has had such an unprecedented sales record that it’s hard to believe that its success stems merely from an introduction to (and a subsequent fascination with) BDSM. But if this wasn’t the only reason for its triumph, what other — or others — do you attribute it to? 

Em: Well, for starters there’s the fact that Fifty Shades begin its life as Twilight fan-fiction — and if there was ever a story that was beginning for raunchy fan fiction, it was Twilight! So E.L. James didn’t exactly come out of nowhere — she had a pretty big fanbase in that world.

We also think that all the money-related escapism in Fifty Shades helps readers feel more comfortable with BDSM in particular and sex and raunch in general. You see the same thing in the world of sex toys — buying a five-pound dildo in a sleazy sex shop frequented by men in raincoats feels dirty, but paying 400 pounds for a platinum-plated one in a fancy boutiue is just being naughty.

Lo: This also explains why BDSM is increasingly mainstream — it’s increasingly expensive, well-designed, and nicely packaged! (Judith Krantz and Danielle Steele figured this out a long time ago, by the way, as did many many romance novelists).

The Shades of Grey heroine, Ana, is more than a little seduced by Christian’s obscene wealth – a while ago she might have been the heroine of what was then called a ‘shopping  & fucking’ novel. And perhaps part of that book’s appeal hard-worked housewives is the altogether delightful fantasy of a young woman’s untrammelled consumerism. And now there’s a scramble to accessorise Shades of Grey sex. Is your book just another part of the – unofficial – Shades of Grey franchise? 

Em: Ha ha we hope so! We’d love to get stinking rich off this.

Seriously, though, we take a sunnier view of all this consumerism: If it’s making women more comfortable and open about reading erotica, buying sex toys, and getting kinky in the bedroom, can it be such a bad thing?

Lo: Personally, we love the idea that so-called porn for moms has taking the publishing industry by storm. Bring it on!

You can listen to the entire podcast here at the Erotic Review website. And you can get your own copy of our book, 150 Shades of Play, here.

The Best Valentine’s Present This Year!

Here are the top 10 reasons why our new book 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink makes the best Valentine’s Day present this year:

1. It gives you the great excuse to try something new in the bedroom — perfect for longterm couples on Valentine’s Day.

2. It also has staying power. The perspectives it can give you on kinky sex can inspire your sex lives for years to come. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

3. It’s timely and relevant. Almost everyone has read at least some of Fifty Shades of Grey. This helps put such a huge cultural phenomenon into perspective, in a way that’s fun and flirty (and actually well written).

4. It helps round out a nice gift basket of treats for Valentine’s Day: chocolates for your sweetie’s sweet tooth, roses for romance, and 150 Shades of Play for playtime! (Way better than some ill-fitting lingerie they’ll never wear.)

5. Even if your partner doesn’t love it, you can pass it off as a gag gift that makes a great bathroom book. Just turn to the entry on  pony-play! (more…)

5 Writing Lessons from “Fifty Shades”

The biggest selling book of 2012 was Fifty Shades of Grey. Not only has it introduced many people to the world of kink, it’s given them a lesson in how not to write. And if a lack of literary merit isn’t going to slow down sales, well, at least people can learn about the elements of style while being turned on by the elements of sadomasochism

1. Avoid repetition of words and phrases. 
When Ana first meets Christian Grey, she thinks she spots a “ghost of a smile” in his expression. That’s a nice, descriptive way of putting it — it’s easy for the reader to imagine. The problem is, James uses the same exact phrasing only a few pages later, for the same character. And that’s not the last we hear the term “ghost of a smile,” either — it pops up a few more times in the first book. Using something so specific again and again just comes across as lazy.

2. Use adverbs sparingly. 
Anastasia Steele never met an adverb she didn’t like, especially when it’s modifying the way she or another character speaks: “I mumble almost inarticulately”; “I murmur apologetically”; “he murmurs softly.” (For painfully excessive use of the word “murmur” throughout Fifty, see rule #1).

3. Don’t use substitutes for the verb “said.”
The Fifty Shades characters rarely just “say” something, they whisper it, they breathe it, they moan it, they mumble it, they murmur it, ad nauseum (see rule  #2, and then rule #1). One of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules on Writing is this: 

Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But “said” is far less intrusive than “grumbled,” “gasped,” “cautioned,” “lied.” I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated” and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.

What he said.

4. Be accurate. 
There is such a thing as creative license, but E.L. James’s should be revoked. Like driving, creative license is not a right, but a privilege, and should be used responsibly and with the utmost care. For example, the author creatively personifies Ana’s internal struggles over various situations as two polar-opposite people living in her head: a sex-loving, open-minded, free-spirited, back-flipping “Inner Goddess” and a careful, cautious, judgmental worrier called her “Subconscious.” Cute, but what Alanis Morissette did to the word “ironic,” E.L. does to the word “subconscious.” To quote Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” If it were truly Ana’s subconscious guiding her, Ana would not be aware of her — that’s what the whole “sub” part of that word means: not conscious! Similarly, there are a ton of British anachronisms in a story about American characters living in American cities with nary a funny Mancunian sidekick to rub off on them. James even includes an apology at the end of the third book for including a scene so preposterous that it defies all logic and law — that’s when you know you’ve abused your creative license.

5. Don’t worry about the rules of writing.
E.L. James didn’t, and look where that got her: laughing all the way to the bank! The most important thing is just sitting down and actually writing. As long as you do that — ideally with passion and conviction — then there’s a chance (albeit small) that you can ignore rules 1 through 4 above and still be a success.

If you liked Fifty Shades (despite the writing), you’ll love 150 Shades of Play, our how-to companion piece to the popular trilogy!