Saturday, February 28, 2015


So like a lot of my fellow Google Blogger users, I received a notice a few days ago informing me of the following:

In the coming weeks, we'll no longer allow blogs that contain sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video. We'll still allow nudity presented in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts, or where there are other substantial benefits to the public from not taking action on the content.

The new policy will go into effect on the 23rd of March 2015. After this policy goes into effect, Google will restrict access to any blog identified as being in violation of our revised policy. No content will be deleted, but only blog authors and those with whom they have expressly shared the blog will be able to see the content we've made private.

Our records indicate that your account may be affected by this policy change. Please refrain from creating new content that would violate this policy. Also, we ask that you make any necessary changes to your existing blog to comply as soon as possible, so that you won't experience any interruptions in service.

I got the notice because my blog is labeled for adult content, which makes sense since I mostly write about erotica, though in fact I didn't actually have any “nude images” on my blog (I kind of wish now that I did). Needless to say, I was extremely pissed off about this abrupt change in policy, which came out of nowhere, created havoc for a lot of friends of mine, and represents the kind of narrow-minded, censorious Puritanism that goes against everything my blog stands for.

Apparently, I was not the only unhappy person, since this morning Google retracted their new policy—to which I can only say, WTF? Yeah, it’s good I guess, but since I spent more than six hours yesterday moving my posts over to my web site, at the moment I am feeling more frustrated than grateful.

So, the upshot of this, is that I have decided to go ahead and move my blog. Overall, it’s probably best for that all important “Lilia Ford Brand” that I have everything in one location, but I confess that I will miss Blogger, which I’ve used since 2007 and still regard as one of the most accessible, user-friendly platforms out there. Annoyingly, the move itself has proven to be a total migraine. Unlike reposting to booklikes or tumblr, it is not possible to move blog posts wholesale to my website host with images and links intact. To make it a bit easier, I’ve had to make the following compromises.
  1. I am only moving significant essays and book reviews, not announcements or short pieces.
  2. In order to spare myself hours of labor, I am not going back and replacing every single link. I have tried to put in links to major quotes and references, but I am not putting in things like Amazon buy links to books being reviewed.
  3. Therefore, I will be leaving the original blog up, both to preserve the original versions with all links included and also for those (probably rare) cases where others have linked to my posts.
After this post, new posts will only appear there, and where possible I will replace any links I find to refer back to the website rather than to Blogger. Goodreads has assured me that previous posts and comments appearing on their site will not be affected, so I am hopeful that nothing will change there.

I admit that I am really angry and disgusted that Google of all companies would even contemplate a policy like this given the disproportionate influence it has on how information is disseminated in our society: That they would take a step that expresses such strong disapproval for the open treatment of human sexuality, that moves away from a position of strict neutrality on what should and should not be discussed in the blogosphere, and go so far as to threaten their own customers with complete removal from the public sphere if they don’t censor material, some of which has been up for a decade or more.

Bottom line: I’m glad they retracted, but the damage has been done.

Here is the link to the new blog:!blog/c1xx

Friday, February 13, 2015

Goodreads Reviews: Ilona Andrews' On the Edge

Series Review:
I can't say I have a favorite volume of this series: I've read and reread all four several times, and somehow get that same glorious rush each time. Paranormals are a dime a dozen these days, but none are quite like this. The entire concept of the Edge is so imaginative, with limitless possibilities for cool plotlines.

I especially love the series' emphasis on family. Children are major characters in each book, and they are not there just to be adorable, play matchmaker, or dispense improbably wise bits of relationship advice. Rather, they have their own agendas, personal histories, and magical powers. Jack Drayton may be my favorite child in any (adult) book, but all of the children in these books are realistically drawn and compelling characters in their own right.

I'll also put in a special word of praise for how On the Edge handles the rich guy/poor girl plotline. Now as a romance junky, I'm all for stories about princes in their palaces or billionaires in their penthouse apartments. However, in recent years, we’ve seen the rise of what I’ll call the Supply-Side Cinderella: these Republican-friendly stories like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey cross the line from fun descriptions of luxury to celebrating wealth and wealthy people. In books of this ilk, rich people are fundamentally better--classier, smarter, cooler, better--than people who don’t have money, and the heroine, CinderAnaBella, deserves to share that money because she is more authentic and sensitive and appreciative than her more conventional friends, (who belong with the working-class stiffs they end up with.) You don't have to be a Bolshevik to find loathsome the implication that the uber-wealthy deserve their good fortune thanks to their superior virtues, and that those less fortunate are exactly where they belong.

Superficially On the Edge is similar: the heroine, Rose, works a dead-end job for a cleaning service and is wooed by super-handsome aristocrat, Declan. But unlike in the Supply-Side Cinderella stories, both the poverty of the Edge and the aristocratic wealth of the Weird are treated with the same clear-eyed lack of sentiment and glamor. Rose's struggles to pay for shoes or gasoline are shown for the soul-sucking grind they are. Declan is basically a good guy, but it is mostly in spite of his class not because of it. Most importantly, though I was incredibly happy to see Rose and her brothers rescued from such a hopeless situation, I never doubted Declan was damn lucky to win her.

Bottom line: this is one of my absolute favorite paranormal series. All four books are excellent. My only complaint is that I want more. Are we ever going to get Jack, George’s and Lark’s stories? Because I’m totally willing to beg.

Originally posted on Goodreads.

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Release: Teen Wolf Fanfiction

For reasons that my therapist and I have failed to adequately elucidate, back in November I was suddenly gripped by an overpowering compulsion to write my own Teen Wolf fan-fiction. In fact I wrote two. The first is a short PWP (porn without plot) Steterek (Stiles, Derek and Peter). Not too much to say about it except that it’s completely filthy, set in the omegaverse (see below), and bears the title, “In Which Stiles Channels Linda Blair.” It should take less than fifteen minutes to read. Here's my (homemade) cover for it:

The second story, entitled Mating Bite, was much more ambitious, with a final word count of 24,200, making it the third longest piece I’ve published. Though I immensely enjoyed writing it, the experience did convince me that my own personal muse is in fact an incarnation of Teen Wolf’s sex-bomb, Erica Reyes, who most likely suffers from a (mild?) case of oppositional/defiant disorder.

This less-than-sympathetic personage refused to inspire anything as straightforward as a Sterek or Steter but rather mocked me with a story featuring the "rare pairing" of “Jisaac,” aka “Jackson Whittemore /Isaac Lahey.” Luckily for me, she was generous enough to set that story in the “omegaverse,” which I’d been dying to write about since I first discovered it in a Supernatural fanfic.

For those who are new to fanfiction, the ‘omegaverse’ is the term for a world where all humans are born into one of three “classifications,” Alpha, Beta, or Omega, and generally possess traits more or less ascribed to (were)wolves. I’m going to squelch my instinct to say something mocking about it because the solemn truth is that omegaverse fanfics are among my favorites.

Now many omegaverse stories represent the ne plus ultra of porntastic filth, complete with heats and especially knotting, which (needless to say) I’m all for. But as Foz Meadows' brilliant essay, Thoughts on Fanfiction, recently argued, the omegaverse is a large one, offering writers across diverse fandoms a framework to explore issues related to fantasy, identity and politics. My favorite stories in the genre deal with a lot of the issues closest to my heart, including the tension between fantasies of sexual submission and the fight for real-world autonomy and rights for women and other historically disempowered people. Meadows puts it far better than I can:
Given the steady popularity of historical romance novels, whose female characters struggle to autonomously navigate love and marriage despite their lack of legal, social and sexual protection, it shouldn’t be so surprising that omegaverse stories reflect a similar tension/dialogue between submission and activism in a context where the one is simplistically taken to negate the other. Nonetheless, there’s a compelling paradox in the idea that omegaverse fics are just as likely to condemn such violent oppressions as to explore them in the context of kink or sexual fantasy, while the fact that both elements might be simultaneously – and deliberately – present within the same narrative is a testament to fanfiction’s versatility.
I wish I could quote more, but I'll just have to urge people to carve out the (not insignificant amount of) time to read the whole essay, which I especially recommend to anyone interested in fanfiction, which should be anyone interested in the changes in contemporary publishing. (And while I'm here, I'll also recommend her equally insightful essay, Teen Wolf: Subversion, Masculinity, and Gender.)

I can’t make grandiose claims for the politics in my own story, but it does deal with five high school omegas who have formed an activist group, Omega Rights Today, and are trying to balance their own dreams for college and careers with the intense social pressure to find Alpha mates as well as their own longings for sex and love.

So without further ado, I present Mating Bite, a Jisaac fanfiction, currently available on Archive of Our Own.

Here is the blurb:

Seven years ago, Jackson Whittemore forced an Alpha mating bite on eleven-year-old omega Isaac Lahey. As punishment, he was banished from Beacon Hills until they both came of age. In the meantime, Isaac has become best friends with Stiles Stilinski and helped him found the high school activist group, Omega Rights Today. But having finally turned eighteen, Isaac knows that Jackson will be coming for him.

Those accustomed to my lengthy, detailed content warnings may be surprised to learn that this story requires less in that department than anything else I’ve ever published. Here it is: it’s M/M and it’s explicit, but otherwise there’s only one sex scene, not much in the way of kink, and no consent issues.

And in case you were wondering why you should hire professionals to make your book covers, here is the one I manage to make on Powerpoint:

Finally, as part of my Teen Wolf craze I've been spending a tiny bit of time (all right, hours and hours!) pinning and posting images on Pinterest and Tumblr, and came up with the brilliant idea of creating an "illustrated" version of each chapter of Mating Bite.  Here's a small sample of the pictures you'll find there:

Need I say more? 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Best of 2014: Think of England by KJ Charles

Best Historical and Most Admired Book:

Another winner. Charles nails the Christie-esque "mystery/house party" set up, though this is an oddly dark story about some truly ugly people. I loved both leads--I want to say especially Daniel, who felt both recognizable and also really original, but I thought Archie was wonderful too. To an unusual degree, each man illuminates the other on a fundamental level. They are very different but neither is as fully realized, romantically or thematically, without the other.

You see this in Archie's very funny but also poignant attempts at confronting Daniel's "Fragmentalist" verse (which doesn't even rhyme properly!) Everything to do with Daniel's poetry was surprisingly multilayered and revealing.
There were vivid images, but they were extraordinary ones, not poetic at all in the way Curtis vaguely felt poetry should be, with trumpets or mountains or daffodils. These poems were full of broken glass and water-which was not clean water-and scaly things that moved in the dark.
The contrast between the Wordsworthian daffodils and scaly things in (not clean!) water was priceless. The part where Archie stops the other men from mocking Daniel's verse was one of those quiet moments of true heroism that really defines Archie's character. And in truth, his attempts to make sense of modern verse like Daniel's can serve as a stand-in for the experiences of a generation of people who could no longer exist within the comforting moral certitudes of the previous century.

And then of course, there's Daniel, whose religion, class background, and sexuality mean that he saw through those illusions and empty certitudes--probably starting when he was about four years old. (It's a brilliant, potent touch that he's the son of a locksmith). He's a great picture of the kind of mind and perspective that brought us Modernism, but the frequent references to suicide in the story remind us how lonely and wretched that alienation could sometimes be. It's refreshing and heartening to find that character occupying the main role in an old-fashioned romance, with heroic rescues, love and, of course, happy-ever-afters.

I'm teasing out a few of these themes because I used to teach this subject, but I don't want to imply that there is anything ponderous or pretentious in the literary allusions. They're built into the characters and plot in the most natural, understated way.

There's plenty more I would like to praise here, but I'll ring off. Bottom line: this is a home run. Read it. It's great.

5 Stars

Review originally posted on Goodreads.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Best of 2014: Mark Cooper Versus America



Mark Cooper is angry, homesick, and about to take his stepdad’s dubious advice and rush Prescott College’s biggest party fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi. Greek life is as foreign to Aussie transplant Mark as Pennsylvania’s snowstorms and bear sightings. So, when the fraternity extends Mark a bid, Mark vows to get himself kicked out by the end of pledge period. But then he’s drawn into Alpha Delt’s feud with a neighboring fraternity.

Studious Deacon Holt is disappointed to learn Mark’s pledging Alpha Delt, his fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa’s sworn enemy. Mark is too beautiful for Deacon to pass up an invitation for sex, but beyond sex, Deacon’s not sure. He wants a relationship, but a difficult family situation prevents him from pursuing anything beyond his studies.

Mark and Deacon’s affair heats up as the war between their fraternities escalates. They explore kinks they didn’t know they had while keeping their liaison a secret from their brothers. But what Romeo and Juliet didn’t teach these star-crossed lovers is how to move beyond sex and into a place where they share more than a bed. That’s something they’ll have to figure out on their own—if the friction between their houses, and between Mark and America, doesn’t tear them apart.


Fantastic. I’ll admit to being nervous because I am emphatically not a fan of raunchy, R-rated American Frat comedies. There were moments, especially in the early chapters, when the authors skirted perilously close to cliché in the portrayal of Alpha Delta. But as we grow to understand, 90% of the problem is that the boys themselves have seen too many of those movies and seem intent on living up to their very questionable ideas of fun. But thanks to the authors’ overall self-consciousness, especially the clever allusions to Romeo and Juliet, the book deploys and then undermines the usual frat, excuse me Fraternity, clichés, creating a tender, insightful story about growing up, finding your place, and falling in love.

With Mark himself, the authors manage the almost miraculous balancing act of creating a character who struck me as being at once the epitome of the modern, disaffected teen and also wholly fresh and original. Crucial to this was the avoidance of the usual YA-friendly explanations for Mark’s behavior--a horrible step father, a neglectful mother, some early trauma--in favor something far more subtle and unexpected. Their restraint made Mark feel unusually real. In a lot of ways, Mark rebels because he doesn't have much to rebel against. He aggressively redefines his world to fit his need to lash out. This is a quality that we and Deacon discover gradually over time through dozens of small touches, instead of having it shoved down our throats in some tearful monologue.

All of this is good, but what made the book truly a pleasure to read was the writing. Though all of their books have been great, I think the Rock/Henry collaboration really comes into its own in Mark Cooper versus America. The narration is tight and energetic and perfectly infused with the highly distinctive idiom and mentality of its two MCs. I marked dozens of memorable, witty passages and phrases that just made me happy in the way that only terrific writing can:

The fraternity thing was just the latest idea out of Jim’s Top One Hundred Ways to Get Mark a Friend or Die Trying. Copyright Jim, 2013.

Angry bunny.

The guy, drunk, stumbled and went face-first into a bale of hay.
Everyone cheered. It was that sort of party.

At what point in your life did you decide you were the sort of guy who wanted to be fisted?
And never forgetting Mark's war with the local coffee shop over his inalienable right to order a "flat white" instead of a latte.

(Which he apparently won, if we're to believe this poster currently up in my local Starbucks:
Certain Australian authors are loudly cheering.)

But even more than the comedy, there were the moments of insight that made me know and care about these characters:

It was fine to be mocked or disliked on his own terms. But his sexual orientation was such a naked target, unfortified by nonchalance and lacking the benefit of being a persona he’d constructed. Gay Mark wasn’t sheddable like Smart-Ass Mark or Bitter-About-the-Move Mark.

Deacon smiled. He was pretty sure he was just the latest in a long line of people who had no idea what Mark Cooper was thinking.

Given that in many ways this book is the “Mark Circus,” I was gratified that I found Deacon as rich and compelling a character in his quieter way. Part of the strength of the book is that neither Deacon nor Mark could be fully realized without the other. Only Deacon recognizes the vulnerable young man beneath Mark’s smart-ass demeanor. On the flip side, Mark enables Deacon to cut loose and actually have fun. On a deeper level, Deacon is someone who needs to take care of others, and with Mark he’s finally able to do so in a way that is mutual and fulfilling instead of draining and self-sacrificing.

Perhaps the most unexpected thought I had reading the book was that this was the best YA novel I’ve read in ages. That reaction created a mini-existential crisis because a rebellious part of me, the part who remembers what it was like to be a teenager, really wants to make the argument for why this book is healthier, truer, and just plain better than most of the crap directed at teens. Depressingly, the more conventional, timid, mother-of-a-teen part of me is not quite ready to recommend a book which heavily features fisting and other kink for the under twenty crowd. My hesitations feel all the more craven and pathetic given that I know for a fact (yes, I do know how to check the google search history) that my son and his friends already watch really explicit, rasty stuff online.

I won’t solve this today, but if anyone reading this decides to nominate this book for YA Book of the Year, you have my vote. In the meantime enjoy Mark et al. You’re in for a real treat.

Rating: Five Stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads: Link to Amazon)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Favorite Reads of 2014

A little late this year, but once again the time has come to write up my list of top reads of the year. As always, it is a list of books I read in 2014, not those published this year.

Even more than previous years, the list leans on the personal, as in books that are personally important to me, not those I am arguing should be important to anyone else. The more I do this, the more I have to acknowledge that some books get inside me—I remember them and reread them in large part because they complement and build on the stories that I tell in my own head. Some are beautifully-written books that I’d recommend to anyone. But some of them are very rough, minimally edited or with glaring issues, that for whatever reason just hit a vital chord, emotional or psychological or erotic, and for that reason became permanent fixtures in my brain’s landscape.

No doubt this is all the more obvious because 2014 became the year of fanfiction, specifically Teen Wolf. I’ve read almost nothing else since September. I’ll not bother here to defend it to non-believers, but hopefully over the coming months I’ll post a few reviews that lay out why I think fanfiction itself is important and worthy of respect and attention.

Finally, I have reviewed most of these already on Goodreads. Check my shelf for "Favorite Reads 2014" for the individual titles. 

So, drumroll, please. Lilia's Top Reads of 2014.

Top Historical and Most Admired Book: 

Think of England by K. J. Charles


Top Contemporary and Just Makes Me Glad I’m Alive:

Mark Cooper versus America by Lisa Henry and J. A. Rock


Top Read for the Feelz:

Ethan Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless


Favorite Fantasy Series:

 Invisible Chains and  Invisible Hands (Dark Tales of Randamor the Recluse) by Andrew Ashling


Seriously the Best Sci-Fi Series Ever and Among my Top Lifetime Reads of Any Genre:

Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold with special mention for the opening book, Shards of Honor

Top Reads for Sheer Porntastic Enjoyment:

Timber Pack Chronicles by Rob Colton


Clan Beginnings Series by Tracy St-John


Favorites from the M/M Groups' Love’s Landscapes Event:

Stranded by Lies by Finn Marlowe (Based on my prompt!!!)


The Archers of Kynthos by K. M. Harty


Top Fan-fictions:

Clever Boy by TriggerTinks

Eat, Knot, Love by Pandabomb


Special mention for the works of KhouriArashi and Goldenpetal13’s Dreams and Nightmares series.

Top Read of the Year:

Clever Boy by Triggertinks

No real competition on this one. Of everything I read in the past year, this story left the deepest mark. To quote my lengthy Goodreads review: "I think it's the best Stockholm story I've ever read, disturbing, insightful, at times sexually charged, at times unbearably sad, pulling no punches about the psychic "erosion" taking place, but also never indulging in gratuitous vilification."  I wish I could issue a blanket recommendation to read it, but as I note in my review, “the tale of how a sixteen year old comes to bond with his psychopathic kidnapper is not for everyone.”

This was also the story that finally laid to rest my ridiculous prejudices against fanfiction. Far from being stupid or lacking, fanfiction is vital, experimental, crazy, and infinitely variable. Thinking about it, reading it, and finally writing it has deepened my understanding of the changes fiction is undergoing right now. Most of all it's incredibly enjoyable, not least because I have been able to share it with my fellow “Sterek Fanfic Freaks” on Goodreads.

A few final notes: 

I did not include any of the fanfictions by authors who had their work pulled from Goodreads, though several of them would probably have made it otherwise. While I am trying to not to be too judgmental about why they felt impelled to take such a step, the bottom line is that their actions hit my particular online community very hard. I personally had more than a dozen reviews deleted, along with my reading logs, favorite quotes and comments on my own and other reader’s reviews. Altogether my friends lost hundreds of reviews and discussions. It sounds trivial to outsiders when I try to explain it, but anyone involved knows that this ended being up an incredibly painful situation for the Goodreads fanfiction community.

The end-of-year wrap up appears to be my time to say a few inadequate thank yous, and once again, I want to express at least a small part of my gratitude to the friends I have made on Goodreads and to the site itself. It has its flaws, but the site does its main job amazingly well: making it possible for people all over the world to come together to celebrate and discuss their reading—any reading that strikes them as worth discussing, whether formally published or not. But the site has always only been as good as its members, dependent on their willingness to spend their time reading, reviewing, recommending and trading opinions about books. Like many of my friends on the site, I have no one in my “real life” who shares my literary obsessions, whether with dark erotica, M/M, or Sterek fanfiction. Without Goodreads, my reading life would be a lonely and impoverished thing, instead of the endlessly fascinating, informative, creative, lunatic, and just plain fun universe it has become. For that I am endlessly grateful.