BDSM Writers Con: ‘A kinky writers’ fantasy come to life’

Posted: November 6, 2015

Did you know that BDSM writers have had their own conference for a number of years? F. Leonora Solomon reports back from this year’s gathering in New York for ETO…

Walking through the lobby of the Doubletree by Hilton hotel, I approached a staircase that warned me that there was a private event for adults only and to use the bathroom nearby on that level. I knew that I was not in Kansas anymore, but New York City for the BDSM Writers Conference.

The conference is the brainchild of Dr Charley Ferrer, who developed it to help facilitate the exploration of all aspects of BDSM for writers, readers and anyone who is interested in the subject. Ferrer is the author of several books, and an avid reader herself. I heard her speak at an RWA-NYC (Romance Writers of America) chapter meeting, and loved her perspective on the lifestyle. She is charismatic and knowledgeable, and I was eager to see how the event would unfold.

“I’m not sure that even Dr Charley Ferrer realised what she was creating when she held her first BDSM for Writers Workshop four years ago,” Rose C Carole, author and organiser of the conference said about her mentor and friend. “As a result of that workshop, I finished my first book. I developed a friendship with Dr Charley as well, and offered her my editorial expertise looking over her written materials. That help expanded to working on the next workshop and the ensuing larger conferences.”

BDSM Writers Con is a kinky writers’ fantasy come to life, as well as the definitive conference for readers, writers and anyone who is interested in BDSM. It has been held in New York City for the past few years as I mentioned, and its success has spawned a West Coast twin which will be held in Everett, Washington in 2016.

Before I got to the stairs that led up to the conference rooms, there was a pre-conference meet and greet the night before. Veterans and novices were able to get acquainted. In the lobby before we headed to dinner, it was clear that a lot of the attendees already knew each other. We all introduced ourselves at the dinner, so the next day it was not as intimidating. The conference was small and intimate by nature, and everyone remembered each other—if only by face.

This year’s keynote speaker was Cecilia Tan. Cecilia is a legendary author and editor inside and outside of the BDSM community. Within the community, she has received the National Leather Association lifetime achievement award. She opened the conference describing her experience as a writer finding her niche. She ended with a poignant story about a fan of hers, who confided that she had been suicidal because she did not think that anyone would connect with her BDSM-themed writing. The woman, urged by the man she was with, said that reading Cecilia’s Black Feathers saved her life.

“The books you write are going to save people’s lives too,” Cecilia said, and there was not one person in the room who did not shiver with the magic of what we do as writers. Even those who were not writers were affected deeply.

Building a community was a huge part of the conference. After the keynote speech, we were invited to a first timer’s lunch with Dr Charley and the sessions would begin after.

“I have attended this conference, and its workshop predecessor and each year become more convinced of its importance in my writing career,” said Lise Horton, whose latest novel Hold Tight is BDSM-themed. “With a plethora of stories in the market on this subject, giving yourself the benefit of this knowledge is a must.”

There was not only an emphasis on writing technique, but sessions on how to utilise social media and self-publishing. Mark Coker of Smashwords (a sponsor of the event), gave two presentations highlighting power tips for self-publishing. Coker shared his own self-publishing experience, and cheered on our potential experiences with it. He and I were also part of the publishers’ panel the next day, in which we had a no-holds barred discussion with the attendees. Anything they wanted to know about the industry. We stayed after the panel, for appointments and to talk on a more personal level about what we do. I focused on erotic anthologies, as that is where my expertise lies.

 

The BDSM Writers Con version of the Academy Awards is the Golden Floggers Awards. Yes you guessed it—the winners were presented with golden floggers. Additionally the BDSM Book Contest awarded publishing contracts to its winners from Totally Bound and Riverdale Avenue Books (my publisher). The ceremony was magnificent and emotional, because of the sense of community we built. Especially with Rose winning the fiction book contest, as she wore two hats as a writer and organiser for the event.

There were many hands-on opportunities to explore the lifestyle. The vendors and sponsors were eager to talk about their items which included floggers, corsets, exquisite jewellery and more. Additionally the second day was filled with live demos. I attended the SM Exploratorium, with Bo Blaze and his Leather Family. Because my latest anthology with Riverdale is Tie Me Up, I kind of was obliged to get tied up and I was, by Mike of Bastard Ropes. He was lovely, and took pictures of his handiwork which I am sharing for this article. As a rule, pictures are not permitted during the conference so that a safe space can be maintained for all of the attendees. Later in the afternoon, I witnessed knife play and saw how a violet wand was used.

“Now when I write a BDSM scene I’ll remember how a real-life whip cracks and a violet wand sizzles – that sensory input alone breathed new life into my writing scenes,” said Golden Flogger winner and author of the Washington Elite series, Elizabeth SaFleur. “Getting to know people in the BDSM community also provided a whole new level of respect for people who dare to live life by their own terms.”

“Whether you are kinky, vanilla, or kink-curious, this is an event that will provide enormous support and education, along with networking opportunities with publishing industry personnel, and all in a welcoming, nurturing community of like-minded folk,” Lise Horton added.

The support and nurturing environment was clear among writers and non-writers alike. At the end of the second night was the BDSM Club Night—what happens at BDSM Club Night stays at BDSM Club Night! Suffice to say that after the intimacy of the conference, we were all very comfortable with each other and the night went without a hitch well into the morning…

An attendee named AJ told me: “I’m a lifestyle submissive and pet and have been involved in BDSM my entire life. I thought the conference was incredibly valuable. Since I wasn’t there as an author, I can’t speak to that aspect of it…I think it was valuable to have people and couples actively involved in the lifestyle who were able to continue the discussions outside of the workshops.”

The discussions have continued well past the conference. We have a private Facebook group that was active before, during and after the conference. The group is a way of having the conference everyday and building upon our strong writing (and beyond) community, which was the ultimate goal — for those of us that are touched by the lifestyle to connect often.

Rose C Carole said: “The Facebook page has expanded with people from the conference who keep in touch, still sharing ideas and accomplishments. And in the centre of it all is Dr Charley, working harder to expand the reach of the conference and open it up to more people. My work has no doubt improved because of my association with her and the other conference participants. It has been an extraordinary journey.”

I concur. I really enjoyed my time at the conference and the friendships that I have made. It was also nice to be there as a speaker, and hopefully save someone’s life as Cecilia promised we would.

For more information about this event visit http://bdsmwriterscon.com/

 

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