Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the Air TONIGHT!

Cult of Gracie RadioJoin editor Alessia Brio this evening at 10pm Eastern on XXBN where she'll be chatting with the one and only Gracie Passette on her radio show, Cult of Gracie.

They'll be talking about erotica, smut writing, altruism, and (of course) Coming Together.

Listen to Cult of Gracie on XXBN

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Coming Together for Jo Leigh

The romance writing community can get into some vicious snark wars on contentious issues, but when one of its authors is in need, it pulls together in a most impressive fashion.

Alison Kent is spearheading a fundraising event for Jo Leigh, who is saddled with enormous medical bills following the death of her husband. Coming Together has donated a set of its print books, and the auction is now live on eBay:

There are currently over 170 additional items available for bidding on eBay that will benefit Jo Leigh -- things like collections of books, agent evaluations, website design, promo video design, and jewelry.

Have a look around. Place a bid or three. You might find the perfect gift for yourself or someone on your list!

peace & passion,

Saturday, November 01, 2008

November is Prematurity Awareness Month

Coming Together: For GabrielleFor three days in the fall of 2006, an Internet writers' community came together in a heart rending vigil for a tiny baby girl, born before her time and taken from this world far too soon. In her precious hours with us, however, Gabrielle reached more hearts than most people do in decades. Her life was not measured by the number of breaths she took but was measured by the depths of compassion she inspired.

Anyone who bore witness to this event can never again claim that online relationships are not real—or that they are in any way, shape, or form lesser than those taking place offline. The virtual candles glowed just as brightly, the e-hugs were just as warm, and the abundance of love just as palpable. I know that I, for one, will never be the same.

Many of the stories and poetry contained in this volume of Coming Together were written in the wake of Gabrielle's passing. Proceeds from its sale will be donated to BLISS, the U.K.'s premature baby charity.

Your purchase will help the next baby who leaves the womb too soon take more breaths and touch more lives. Thank you.

~ Alessia Brio

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day

Coming Together is participating in Blog Action Day. This year's topic is POVERTY, and we're sharing the thoughts of a few Coming Together contributors:

~ Brenna Lyons ~

I grew up in one of the worst DMZs in Pittsburgh, on food stamps, medical aid... you name it... struggling to make something better for myself out of what I'd been dealt. I worked two jobs while I went to college, because it kept a roof over my head and let me finish my education. There were times when my husband (whose family was, if anything, worse off than mine) and I didn't have enough to eat, didn't have heat, didn't have medical care when we needed it. There were times when our walls were so insubstantial the winter wind came straight through them. No one should have to live that way, especially as children and/or teens.

The one thing I did always have was a roof over my head, but I know many don't. The schools my kids attend services two separate homeless shelters full of families... kids.

What do I do to help those in need? I donate clothing, books, food... and when I have it, time and money, because sometimes that couple of cans of food or used winter jacket are all you have between a moment of comfort and complete lack of it. Sometimes that one mentor reaches you when no one else does. I read to kids. I help judge free contests that encourage literacy in pre-teens and teens, because an education and a dream are the best ways I've found out of that life and to providing something better for the next generation.

~ Brenna Lyons

# # #

~ Sapphire Phelan ~

Poverty effects everyone. Okay, so you have a job, a home, and credit cards out the wazoo. But anyone can lose that job or home--and credit cards just add more debt to your name. In today's society, even here in the U.S., the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, and there is no more middle class.

What we do at home is try to live without something we really don't need, don't drive anywhere and when we do, make sure we do several things in the same area together.

What little money we have to spare, we try to donate to some program for poverty. A few pennies is a few pennies more they did not have before.

Next time you think: Me, poor? Go volunteer at your local food bank and see who is coming in. And maybe, just maybe, you don't need that something for yourself when you Christmas shop. Instead, take that money and get a few groceries to donate to your Food Bank, or get a gift for a child at Christmas that might not have anything under his/her tree if you didn't do it.

This year it's going to be tough for us all, so think smart and help your neighbor.

# # #

~ Victoria Blisse ~

When we think of poverty, we often think of a global problem and become overwhelmed by the sheer weight of it. I know I often feel inadequate when I think of all the people in the world who have nothing or close to nothing and how little I can actually afford to do to help them.

However, this does not mean I cannot do something to help someone living in poverty. We all can do something: from cooking a meal for the old woman at the end of the street who lives alone, or making her a blanket to help her through the cold of winter, to donating our old clothes to charity to be sold to aid the poor and unfortunate of the world. Or we can put together a shoe box of gifts to send to poor children in Romania or collect odd pennies and donate them to a missionary charity. We may not be able to go out and dig wells, but our spare change can help those who do. There are many ways we can make a difference no matter how much time or money we have to dedicate to the cause.

If we all do a little something, it will make a difference.

~ Victoria Blisse

# # #

~ Giselle Renarde ~

poverotica /pawvirottikaw/(n) literature or art lending erotic qualities to the state of being extremely poor.

As you might have guessed, there's no such thing as poverotica. It's a new addition to my lexicon of made-up words. And you've probably never wondered why poverotica doesn't exist amongst the numerous categories of erotic fiction on the market. I never did either until the righteous Alessia Brio asked Coming Together contributors to think about poverty as a blog topic. Have you ever asked yourself, "Why are there no sexy stories about those members of our society living at subsistence level?"

The question answers itself, doesn't it? Of course we don't think these things. Poverty isn't sexy. In fact, without even realizing it, most of us have been conditioned to adopt a fundamental belief in just the opposite: Money is sexy. Without it, there is no romance.

Before erotica consumed my life, I was an academic. As such, I wrote a thesis on the surprisingly hegemonic implications of sex advice articles in women's magazines. As a sidebar to my observations, I noticed that much of the advice given about improving one's sex life involved purchasing products. For instance, when one woman wrote in to ask how she could begin to enjoy sex with her husband again after he'd cheated on her, the columnist advised her to "throw away your comfortable nightgown" and "switch over to some sexy lingerie."

Apart from reinforcing the disturbingly common belief that her husband's affair was this woman's fault, by advising the inquisitor to "switch over to sexy lingerie," this, like many other advice articles, subtly reinforces the role that sexuality plays in supporting Capitalism and consumerist behaviours.

The entire category of romantic love conspires with Capitalist endeavours to encourage commercialism through the purchase of roses, chocolates, jewellery, "romantic" holidays, weddings and much more, as signifiers of love and commitment. The conventional relationship-oriented objects and rituals that have the highest symbolic values, like the wedding, the wedding ring and the honeymoon, also have the highest exchange values. Just think about how incredibly profitable the wedding industry has become!

The idea that love, or sexual desire for that matter, is expressed through the exchange of items drawn from the specific lexicon of love-connoting merchandise has established a culture wherein "love" and consumerism exist in a symbiotic relationship: It is in the corporation's interest to emphasize the symbolic value of its product in relation to love and sex, because this vastly increases the product's exchange value.

From the example given above, it is far more likely that the advice-seeker, and other women in her situation, will purchase expensive, over-priced lingerie when they are led by magazine articles to believe that this will help to salvage their sex lives and even their marriages.

Conversely, such advice misleads readers into believing their relationships are doomed if they can't afford the trappings of romantic love and desire. This is not just academic theory; it's rehearsed again and again in real life. Hell, my girlfriend's always reminding me how much she loves being treated to fancy meals and expensive gifts; they make her feel special.

How is it that even we, the educated and the socially aware, still fall into these Consumerist traps? The costly signifiers of romance are just that: empty vessels of connotation. There are far better ways of showing our loved ones we care, and these methods don't require us to spend our life's savings. Words cost nothing: "I love you. You are special. Come to bed and I'll show you..."

# # #

~ Will Belegon ~

Poverty? Here, in the most developed country in the world?

As a nation, much of the United States went through the nineties and the early part of this century with a strut and a whistle. Poverty? Poverty is dead. We beat it, right? LBJ beat it back in the sixties? Man, we rock.

Then came Hurricane Katrina.

Suddenly, we had to look down the block and realize that we still had this demon to face. It was there on our TV sets and it wasn't in Somalia or Bangladesh. These were Americans. But the truth is that poverty never disappeared in the United States. It was forced into a new public image by the efforts of those who like to ignore it. Or rather, they ignore it until it is time to use the desperate acts of someone with their back against the wall as a lever to "reform" welfare or "examine" federal programs. And reform and examine always meant "cut." Somehow in the eighties, being poor became the fault of the poor. That carried through the years until Katrina blew it away. The images that we saw from the wards of New Orleans and the floor of the Superdome reminded us that despite our political zeal about the War on Terror or the War on Drugs, we had left another foe unvanquished.

This is not to say that there weren't a great number of Americans who never quit fighting. But in politics and marketing, perception is reality. And the perception was that we had an underclass who didn't really want to make the effort required to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. The problem with such an idea is that it presupposes enough income to afford boots.

There is a great need throughout the world. But remember the old adage about charity beginning at home. And I don't mean helping yourself to another Krispy Kreme while you watch The View. There are wonderful organizations such as Habitat For Humanity that are putting in countless hours very near you to make a difference in the lives of your fellow Americans. You can volunteer at a shelter. Give your unwanted goods to a thrift store. Anything.

Get off the couch and grab a hammer. The War on Poverty still hasn't been won.

# # #

Friday, October 10, 2008

50% MicroPay Rebate Sale!

FictionWise eBook BailoutThe Feds bailed out Wall Street last week to the tune of $700 Billion, and at Fictionwise they say: why let the fat cat CEO's have all the fun? So starting now, every single title in their store sports a massive 50% Micropay Rebate when paying by credit or PayPal! But hurry: they will run this insane eBook Bailout Package either through Sunday October 12, or until they give away $700 Billion worth of Rebates, whichever comes first!

What a great incentive to pick up the entire Coming Together collection. Buy half the books, then go back and get the other half with your rebate!

Friday, September 12, 2008


In 2005, when we put together the Special Hurricane Relief Edition of Coming Together in the wake of Katrina, we never really anticipated its longevity and the persistent, vital need for the cause it benefits.

To those in the path of Hurricane Ike, we hope you stay safe and dry.

peace & passion,

~ Alessia Brio, editor

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Press Release

Press Release for Coming Together: At LastAugust 28, 2008

Celebrate the Diversity of Desire
with Coming Together and Phaze Books

Cincinnati, OH – The latest in the critically acclaimed Coming Together anthology series, Coming Together: At Last, will debut in January 2009 from Phaze Books. Due to the overwhelming number and quality of the submissions, it was decided that two volumes of this title would be published simultaneously, both containing the stirring Introduction penned by New York Times bestselling author, L.A. Banks. A complete list of the contents can now be found online at the Coming Together website:

The release of these collections of interracial erotic fiction and poetry will coincide with the celebration of the birth of one of history's most passionate proponents for human rights and equality, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and it is from his famous speech given forty-five years ago on this day that the title words "At Last" are taken. Accordingly, proceeds from sales will benefit Amnesty International.

Having published four of the nine currently available titles in the charitable anthology series, Phaze Books is now poised to release its fifth and sixth. The diverse collections of erotic fiction and poetry feature the work of many well-known authors in addition to fresh new voices in the genre. Previous Phaze titles in the series include Coming Together: For the Cure, Coming Together: Under Fire, Coming Together: Special Hurricane Relief Edition, and Coming Together: With Pride. Each is available in both ebook and print from all major online booksellers.

All proceeds from the sales of Coming Together publications are donated to charity, with the authors and its EPPIE Award-winning editor, Alessia Brio, donating their time and talents.

Coming Together anthologies have received many accolades including the 2008 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Erotica as well as Top Pick and four star reviews from the romance industry's premier publication: Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine. In its most recent review, Romantic Times favorably compared the series to Susie Bright's Best American Erotica series. In addition, the organization was a finalist for the Electronic Published Internet Connection's 2008 Friend of ePublishing Award for what Ms. Brio has termed "erotic altruism."

Phaze Books, the erotic imprint of Mundania Press LLC, is one of the fastest growing and most recognizable publishers in an exploding genre. Its unprecedented support for Coming Together, a voluntary nonprofit association, puts Phaze on the cutting edge of philanthropy in the publishing industry, a commitment that will continue with its upcoming releases in the series. Coming Together: Against the Odds will have a mystery theme and will benefit Autism Speaks, while Coming Together: Into the Light will include stories about the revelation of secrets and will benefit V-Day. Both are currently open for submissions and will see publication in the coming year.

For more information about Coming Together, visit or email editor Alessia Brio at alessia [at] For more information about Phaze Books, visit or contact Promotions Manager Crystal B. Bright at crystal [at]

# # #

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Open for Submissions

Two new volumes of Coming Together are now open for submissions:

Coming Together: Into the LightPhaze Books, in partnership with editor, Alessia Brio, is now accepting submissions of erotic fiction & poetry for Coming Together: Into the Light. Simultaneous release in ebook and print is planned for early 2010.

The theme of this collection is the revelation of secrets. ALL royalties from the sale of this volume will benefit V-Day, which works to end violence against women.

Submissions close July 31, 2009
intothelight [at]

Coming Together: By HandComing Together: By Hand is a multi-author anthology of auto-erotic fiction and poetry edited by Alessia Brio.

ALL proceeds from the sale of this volume will benefit a sex-positive organization promoting safe sex (TBA).

Submissions close (TBA)
byhand [at]

Please refer to the SUBMISSIONS page for further details on these and other open calls.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Passionate Internet Voices RadioTomorrow (Sunday 27th July) from 9pm to 11pm eastern time, join Alessia Brio and many of the Coming Together authors for a radiothon on Passionate Internet Voices Radio with host Lillian Cauldwell. They'll be talking about the series, the charities, their reasons for getting involved, and their plans for the future.

Scheduled readings or interviews:

Alessia Brio
Jeremy Edwards
Mari Freeman
Helen Madden
Will Belegon
Jean Roberta
Brenna Lyons
Sapphire Phelan
G.C. Rider
Victoria Blisse
Giselle Renarde
Heather Fowler
Laurence Doyen
Selena Kitt
... and more!

Listen to the live broadcast and participate via PIVR's chat room at:

~ ~ ~


comic stripThe fabulous Helen Madden created one of her delightful Cynical Woman comic strips about Coming Together. Check it out!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two Lips Reviews Under Fire

Title: Under Fire
Author: Alessia Brio and Will Belegon, editors

Publisher: Phaze

Genre: Anthology

Publication date: 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59426-857-1
Pages: 288

Series: Coming Together

Reviewer: Aviana

Heat Level:
  F/M; F/F; M/M; M/M/M

Coming Together: Under Fire is a collection of short stories and poems dedicated to the victims of the Southern California wildfires in October 2007 and to the courageous men and women who battled those blazes. All the proceeds go to help the victims, some of whom will surely struggle for years to put their lives back together. As part of the Coming Together series - benefiting a variety of charities and natural disasters, Coming Together: Under Fire is both an extremely worthwhile project and the perfect book to dip into before bedtime.

Editors Alessia Brio and Will Belegon made sure this collection of 37 short stories and poems include something for everyone. Many of the entries have fire as a theme, but not all. Some of the stories seem specifically written about the Southern California fires, mentioning names and places familiar to those who lived through those harrowing days, such as myself.

Poetry lovers will be delighted to find poems comprise half this volume and are interleafed between each short story. I especially liked the way the editors italicized the poetry titles in the table of contents, making it easier for the reader. It’s impossible to review all 37 entries in one short review but a few stand out.

Burn Zone by James Buchanan is a touching and erotic story about 3 firefighters, two city fireman and one smoke jumper. The men are roommates and when two of them hear the third is having trouble dealing with the loss of his teammates in an out-of-control brushfire, they go looking for him. Once they finally find him, they force him to face his guilt while affirming the unique bond they share as friends and a sexual threesome.

Drive-In by Tilly Green is a fun story about a very sexy and pent up firefighter and his patient girlfriend enjoying public sex at a private beach party. She finally gets up the nerve to express her deepest feelings and naturally that’s just when he gets paged to come back to work.

Slow Burn Blues by Lefty McGee is a powerful poem about a man drinking whiskey in a smoky bar while listening to a woman sing the blues. In just a few short stanzas, the story of this man’s regrets and his overwhelming shame is revealed.

Blind Date by Stephanie Vaughan seems written specifically for this volume. It’s the sexy story of two gay men on a blind date - arranged by one of their moms, no less! One happens to be a firefighter on call which gives the story a nice tension. The two quickly hit it off and although things go from spark to inferno they also manage to connect emotionally in a very special way.

The last title of this anthology, The End of the World by Gwen Masters, is an astonishingly tender tale of a married couple lost in the vast Gibson Desert of Australia. It’s unbearably hot, the food and water are running out and they know they can’t last more than a couple of days. With nothing to do but wait to die, they are forced to finally face the reasons their marriage failed. Although The End of the World has nothing to do with fire per se, it’s a story of hope in the face of total disaster – a fitting end to this fine collection.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

On the Air

Join editor Alessia Brio on Monday 14 July from 9:30-10:00pm (eastern) on Passionate Internet Voices Radio What's Hot in Romance? show with host Lillian Cauldwell where she'll be promoting Coming Together: With Pride, the latest release in the Coming Together series.

Then, tune in again on Sunday 27 July from 9:00-11:00 pm (again, eastern) for a 2-hour Coming Together radiothon promoting the entire series. :)

There'll be both live and prerecorded excerpts ... and maybe even a few surprises!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Promo Blogging

I'm today's featured author on Melissa Schroeder's blog, promoting the Coming Together series. Pop on over and leave a comment to be entered to win a Phaze gift certificate!

Here's the interview posted there ...

Alessia, thanks for the taking the time to answer my questions! I know the readers are going to LOVE them.
  1. What drew you to writing romance?

Um, well… nothing. I landed in the romance genre because that's where the publishing industry currently herds the royalties-based erotic fiction. The draw, as you put it, was toward the erotic elements—the transformative power of sex, the way it brings out the best (and the worst) in people, the way it challenges our absolutes. Sex is not only titillating, it's absolutely fascinating. Every sexual act carries a complete story arc in microcosm. The relationship is changed by the experience and the emotional distance between the characters either increases or decreases. Individual changes, often profound, take place as well. Sex is a crucible for character development. So, while some of my work may indeed qualify as "romance" by the prevailing genre definitions, I never set out to write romance. I set out to tell a story.

  1. Tell me about the first Coming Together and how it came together.

The first volume of Coming Together was self-published in late spring of 2005—just a couple weeks before I got "the call" from Phaze. In fact, the two events are somewhat related.

About 5 years ago, I started searching for erotic fiction online, and I wound up at a site called Literotica and began to post my early scribblings there. It's a huge site, and the quality is… diverse (to put it diplomatically). However, there are some very talented authors in its ranks. After about a year, I discovered that those who were serious about writing good erotica tended to congregate in the forums, particularly a section called the Authors' Hangout.

I made the Authors' Hangout my online home. I was still just a hobbyist, though, with no aspirations beyond that site's contests, and the word "ebook" wasn't even in my vocabulary at that time. As I got to know some of the other authors and poets and illustrators, we began to discuss options for getting a broader audience for our work.

For a short story writer, publication options—at least in print—are sporadic and limited and certainly not an adequate source of income. So, we discussed the possibility of bundling our stories into anthologies. When talk turned to money, we realized that splitting the proceeds 15-20 ways was never going to result in a lucrative income. Someone—and it may've even been me, I don't recall—suggested donating the revenues to charity, and Coming Together was born. Many of the original participants are still involved with the project. I'm both humbled by and proud of its growth.

It was in the process of gathering all the stories for that first volume into a manuscript that it dawned on me: I could do the same with all of my short stories & poetry. That's how fine flickering hungers became a book. I submitted it to Phaze thinking that, at the very least, I'd get a professional opinion on my writing. A couple weeks later, I had a contract, and that resulted in an EPPIE Award winning publication.

  1. Is there a way you pick the theme for each one? Do you do it, does Phaze?

At first, we picked one charity: the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The first volume was published in conjunction with a Free Speech contest on Literotica, and it seemed fitting to have our erotic fiction benefiting an organization that fights to preserve our ability to freely express ourselves via the Internet. Volumes 2 and 3 also benefit EFF. They were all initially self-published through Café Press but now have homes as ebooks with Charles River Press. When their contracts expire in early 2009, I'll be adding the ebooks to Selena Kitt's eXcessica collaborative and self-publishing the print volumes through Amazon's Create Space.

It wasn't until Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast that we produced a themed volume. All the stories and poetry in the Special Hurricane Relief edition involve storms. It benefits the American Red Cross.

Themes and causes for the rest of the volumes have a variety of sources. Kat Lively suggested Coming Together: For the Cure, our Susan G. Komen benefit, and it was the first volume to result from an open submission call. It was a 2008 EPPIE Award finalist, a Romantic Times BOOKreviews Top Pick, and the winner of the 2008 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Erotica category (and a finalist in the Anthology category).

Other suggestions have come from readers and fellow authors. Coming Together is not housed solely at Phaze. We have self-published print books, ebooks with Charles River Press and eXcessica, and will soon have an exclusive title with All Romance eBooks.

  1. Does each theme have something to do with the charity you give to?

In later volumes, yes. I do try to tie the overall theme to the cause. For example, Coming Together: In the Kitchen (a cookbook for which submissions are still open!) will appropriately benefit a charity for the hungry.

The most recent release, Coming Together: With Pride, doesn't really have a theme beyond diversity. I think that's appropriate, though, since HIV/AIDS affects everyone.

Coming Together: Under Fire (4 Stars from Romantic Times BOOKreviews!) contains fire-themed stories and poetry. The upcoming interracial volume, Coming Together: At Last, which will benefit Amnesty International, has a theme of hope & freedom.

  1. You are planning on making Coming Together a non-profit charity all by itself. What are you hoping to do with it? Will it only include books, or are there other ways you are planning on raising money?

Yeah, I filed the registration a couple weeks ago and am now slogging through the development of Articles of Association and Bylaws. We have seated a Board of Directors and as soon as all the requisite documents are on file with the state, we'll be tackling the application for IRS tax exemption. Coming Together is now officially a "nonprofit voluntary association."

While collections of erotic fiction and poetry will remain Coming Together's primary fundraising product, I do hope to branch out into other forms of creative expression: photography, audio books, graphic arts, painting, etc.

We'll also be doing some single-author compilations. There's a book of Lefty McGee's incredible poetry in the works entitled Coming Together: Pondering the Indelible and a collection of erotic short stories by the prolific Laurence Doyen entitled Coming Together: For Her. I can wait to put these on the market! The ebooks will be released through eXcessica and the print through Amazon's Create Space.

  1. How do you go about picking the stories for the anthologies?

It's all about balance. The quality of the submissions is VERY high. Almost everything I receive is publishable, in my opinion. So, my task is to select material that fits the theme and is well-balanced in length, point-of-view, sexuality, and tone with the rest of the book. I strive for diversity in each collection. In fact, "Celebrate the diversity of desire!" is a new promo slogan we've adopted.

  1. Do you have the next theme and charity picked out?

There are several volumes still open for submissions:

Coming Together: At Last closes on July 31st. It will benefit Amnesty International and consist of interracial stories with a theme of hope & freedom.

Coming Together: Against the Odds closes on December 31st. It will benefit Autism Speaks and consist of mystery-themed erotic fiction.

Coming Together: Al Fresco closes on January 31st. It will be released on Earth Day 2009 exclusively in ebook from All Romance eBooks and will benefit Conservation International. Its theme is sex in the great outdoors.

Coming Together: In the Kitchen is a cookbook. It will benefit Action Against Hunger.

I'm in the process of working with a popular toy store to develop a branded benefit sex toy to be sold in conjunction with Coming Together: By Hand, which will contain stories about masturbation and benefit a sex-positive charity (TBA). Submissions won't open for this one until we hammer out the details. I'm targeting a release during National Masturbation Month (May), but whether that's 2009 or 2010 remains to be seen. Promotion for this volume will also be tied to the toy review blog, Toys for Tarts, which also fundraises for Coming Together through affiliate sales. (Authors are welcome to submit product reviews for posting, and I'll happily include a reciprocal link.)

Coming Together: Pondering the Indelible is Lefty McGee's poetry, and it will benefit a literacy charity (TBA).

Coming Together: For Her, Laurence Doyen's collection, will benefit NOW.

Beyond that, I'm open to suggestions.

  1. What do you, Alessia, have coming up in the next few months in terms of releases?

I have so little time to write "my stuff" these days. Pity, 'cause I've been told it's quite good. *grin*

Let's see. I just had a short-short story released (last week) in the Surrender: Tales of Erotic Submission print anthology from Phaze. In September, I'll have a story in Rachel Kramer Bussel's Tasting Him anthology. (It's already available to pre-order from Amazon.) In October, my & Will's e-novellas, "Double Header" & "Spring Training" will be released as a print compilation entitled Squeeze Play from Phaze. And, I'll have a story entitled "Double Decker" included in the lesbian print anthology, Sapphistocated, from Phaze in early 2009. Of course, I intend to have contributions in each of the multi-author Coming Together volumes as well.

I'd like to find time to finish four longer works-in-progress: Zane, Snatch, 'Tude, and (collaboratively with Will Belegon) Missing Pieces, the next book in our Erotique series.

Now for the fun questions:

  1. Name three books on your keeper shelf.

In no particular order (out of dozens of keepers),

  • Marge Piercy's Three Women
  • Stephen King's The Stand
  • J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

  1. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

I don't do guilt. However, I do try to limit my indulgence in the plum and raspberry wines from the local winery. Unrestricted consumption would be detrimental to my bank balance—not to mention my waistline. *wink*

  1. If you had to choose between a night in with a pizza and a movie, and a night out on the town, which would you pick and who would you have with you?

Most of the time, I'd opt for the pizza & movie simply because I am an introvert by nature. Crowds are an energy drain to me. I have to be in just the right mood (or have had an ample amount of social lubricant in the form of vanilla vodka) to enjoy such events. Regardless of the venue, though, my company of choice is my writing & life partner, Will Belegon.

  1. What is your favorite non-writing activity?

Creatively, it would be doing cover art. In terms of leisure activity, it would be sex. Does sex still count as a non-writing activity for an erotica writer? Hrm…

peace & passion,

~ Alessia

Friday, June 27, 2008


medallionIn today's mail, the 2008 Next Generation Indie Book Awards winner's medallion (Erotica category, of course) for Coming Together: For the Cure! Kudos to the participating authors, Phaze Books, and moi... the editor!

... with an Introduction penned by Chelsea Summers of pretty dumb things blogging fame!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Submission Deadline Looming

With the submission deadline rapidly approaching, we are absolutely thrilled to announce that the Introduction for this volume of Coming Together, a collection of interracial erotic fiction & poetry, was penned by none other than NY Times Bestselling author, LA Banks!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

True Colors Tour

True Colors TourComing Together is GOING ... to the True Colors concert in DC on Saturday 7 June! The dynamic duo of Alessia Brio & Will Belegon will be in attendance, proudly sporting their Coming Together: With Pride T-shirts and passing out promo buttons.

And check out the True Colors MySpace page. Coming Together is listed in its Top Friends!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Self-Pubbed Titles now on Fictionwise!

Coming Together: For Gabrielle
For three days in the fall of 2006, an Internet writers' community came together in a heart rending vigil for a tiny baby girl, born before her time and taken from this world far too soon. In her precious hours with us, however, Gabrielle reached more hearts than most people do in decades. Her life was not measured by the number of breaths she took but by the depths of compassion she inspired.

Anyone who bore witness to this event can never again claim that online relationships are not real--or that they are in any way, shape, or form lesser than those taking place offline. The virtual candles glowed just as brightly, the e-hugs were just as warm, and the abundance of love just as palpable. I know that I, for one, will never be the same.
For three days in the fall of 2006, an Internet writers' community came together in a heart rending vigil for a tiny baby girl, born before her time and taken from this world far too soon. In her precious hours with us, however, Gabrielle reached more hearts than most people do in decades. Her life was not measured by the number of breaths she took but by the depths of compassion she inspired.

Many of the stories and poetry contained in this volume of Coming Together were written in the wake of Gabrielle's passing. Unlike other volumes in the erotic cocktail series, this one is often sensual, but it is not explicit. It carries a theme of hope. Proceeds from its sale will be donated to BLISS, the U.K.'s premature baby charity.

Your purchase will help the next baby who leaves the womb too soon take more breaths and touch more lives. Thank you.

~ Alessia Brio

* * *

Coming Together: Special Memorial Edition (Colleen Thoomas)

The internet is a wonderful, terrible place to make friends. Some of us, shy or just in need of a break from 'real-world' intimacy, come here believing we can enjoy the special people we meet without being vulnerable to them. Then someone like Colly proves us wrong.

My first post in the Literotica® Author's Hangout was in response to something Colly wrote in a political thread. I wouldn't have bothered, if I hadn't admired the way she expressed herself. I didn't expect to like her; it was impossible not to. Colly's toughest weapon was her abiding grace and generosity. Nothing defuses a heated feud like a sneak-attack hug that arrives out of nowhere when you're having a lousy day.

We didn't share much about our personal lives, except for the parts we had in common: Southern small-town families; the challenge of balancing love and loyalty with seemingly unbridgeable ideological differences. It would be easy to say I wasn't close to Colly, if not for the fact that she was so often the first person to welcome me back after an absence or offer her support when she knew I was facing a difficult time.

All things considered, I have to say she was a real friend. The hugs and grins and roses were real, too. The illusion was that I could control how much I cared.

I'll miss you, Colly.

~ she reads

Saturday, May 31, 2008

With Pride now available!

With Pride is the 8th multi-author anthology of erotic fiction in the philanthropic Coming Together series. It is about giving and about sex and about celebrating the diversity of desire. It is simultaneously naughty and wholesome, tender and taboo, raw and refined. In these pages, you can fulfill your wildest fantasies, indulge your primal nature, and embrace a variety of lifestyles. The most delicious part is that you can do it all while helping to heal the devastation of HIV and AIDS. Coming Together is erotic altruism at its finest.

To purchase:

peace & passion, y'all

~ Alessia

Monday, May 19, 2008

With Pride's first review

I'm not the least bit surprised to read a glowing, A+ review about this book. As an editor, the quality of the submissions simply blew me away. Here's what Shira from Simply Romance Reviews had to say:
Being Yourself. Acknowledging your desires. Dealing with the loss of a loved one. Releasing pent up frustrations. Excepting what you cannot change. Experiencing the joys of Sex. These were just some of the themes of the eighteen stories that made up the eighth volume of the Coming Together Collection. All the proceeds from the sale of Coming Together - With Pride will be donated to AVERT ( to help fund HIV/AIDS research and prevention.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Coming Together - With Pride. This collection of stories and poems took me on an emotional roller coaster- joy, pain, arousal, laughter, enlightenment, love, disgust, passion, and submission. Every story was an eye-opener.

These stories were perfect in the way that they complimented each other and fit together in harmony. I highly recommend this book not just because all the proceeds go towards a greatly needed cause but because it was a beautiful collection of stories that I felt came straight from each author's soul.
Coming Together: With Pride goes on sale (ebook & print) in less than 3 weeks!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Cyclone Aid

Your purchase of Coming Together: Special Hurricane Relief Edition benefits the American Red Cross, which is now concentrating efforts to aid cyclone victims in Myanmar. Purchase this eBook today and receive 50% off toward your next purchase! Buy the paperback and receive 75% off your next purchase!*

* Discount coupons will be delivered in a separate e-mail following completed purchase. Visit the Phaze Coming Together page for more information on Coming Together's charity anthologies published with Phaze.

~ ~ ~

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Coming Together to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis

(UPDATED 5/9/08)

I'm sure you've seen the horrific numbers. Cyclone Nargis, coupled with the insular junta government of Burma (Myanmar), may be responsible for over 100,000 deaths -- and 40% of those are purported to be children. Over a million people are homeless, either because their homes have been destroyed or because 5000 sq km of Burmese land -- farms, homes, businesses -- are under water.

Author Ann Aguirre has a great fundraising effort ongoing on her blog. By sending her proof of a donation to the aid charity of your choice, you'll be entered into her drawing(s) for $250 worth of giftcard(s) to the online bookstore of your choice. Ann says:
Here’s the deal. You pick a charity and donate some money. I don’t care how much. Send me an email with a transaction number, showing that you gave to disaster relief (even just a buck), and I’ll enter you in a drawing for free books. (Note: the prizes have changed. I started at $150, but Alessia Brio is adding $50 to the pot. Lauren Dane is now kicking in $50 as well.) Now we’re looking at three winners total. We wanted to spread the love around.

The new prizes:
$150 gift card to any bookstore
$50 gift card to any bookstore
$50 gift card to any bookstore

If you tell me how much you donated in that email, I’ll give you another entry. I’d love to track how much we raise. I’ll include my own donation in the tally. Next, post a comment as a secondary tracking system for me, so I don’t lose any entries. I’ll be updating the tally in the sidebar as we go along.

The winner can pick the store where he or she spends his loot. I’ll do Amazon, B&N, Powells, wherever you want. I know contests are usually free, but even small donations will help people who are starving and homeless. A little might make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

I’m going to run this a week, so it will wrap up at midnight on May 14, and I’ll announce the winner on May 15th.

As for Coming Together, our Hurricane Relief edition is still available in both ebook and print. All proceeds go to the Red Cross for disaster relief efforts worldwide. (Although it's available from all the big stores, we raise the most $$ when these books are ordered directly from the publisher.)

By Coming Together, we can make a difference! What are you waiting for?

peace & passion,

~ Alessia

Coming Together: Special Hurricane Relief Edition

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just a few more weeks...

... until the ebook & print release of Coming Together: With Pride. I finished the wrap cover last night. I'm sooooo excited!

peace & passion,

~ Alessia

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Coming Together: With Pride

Phaze Books Shows Its Pride

Cincinnati, OH – The latest in the critically acclaimed Coming Together anthology series, Coming Together: With Pride, will debut in June from Phaze Books. The release coincides with a season of Pride Week celebrations world wide. Proceeds from sales of the volume will benefit AVERT, an international HIV/AIDS education and research organization.

Having published three of the eight currently available titles in the charitable series, Phaze Books is now poised to release its fourth. The diverse collection of erotic fiction features stories by well-known authors in addition to fresh new voices in the genre. Previous Phaze titles in the series include Coming Together: For the Cure, Coming Together: Under Fire, and Coming Together: Special Hurricane Relief Edition. Each is available in both ebook and print.

All proceeds from the sale of Coming Together publications are donated to charity, with the authors and its editor, Alessia Brio, donating their time and talents. The first three volumes benefited the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but since the Special Hurricane Relief Edition was published in 2005 to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina, each volume has targeted a specific natural disaster or human need.

Coming Together anthologies have been well reviewed, receiving Top Pick and four star reviews from the romance industry's premier publication: Romantic Times BOOKlovers Magazine. In its most recent review, Romantic Times favorably compared the series to Susie Bright's Best American Erotica series. In addition, the organization was a finalist for the Electronic Published Internet Connection's (EPIC's) 2008 Friend of ePublishing Award for efforts in what Ms. Brio has termed "erotic altruism."

Phaze Books, the erotic imprint of Mundania Press LLC, is one of the fastest growing and most recognizable publishers in an exploding genre. Its unprecedented support for Coming Together puts Phaze on the cutting edge of philanthropy in the publishing industry, a commitment that will continue with the next two volumes in the series. Coming Together: At Last will have interracial theme and will benefit Amnesty International, while Coming Together: Against the Odds will include mysteries and will benefit Autism Speaks. Both are currently open for submissions and will see publication in 2009.

For more information about Coming Together: With Pride or any other title in the Coming Together series, please contact editor Alessia Brio at alessia[at] or visit

# # #


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

4 Stars for Coming Together: Under Fire

by Alessia Brio and Will Belegon, eds.

RT Rating: (4 Stars)
Category: EROTICA
Publisher: Phaze
Published: December 2007
Type: Erotic Fiction (Anthology)

The latest in the Coming Together series will captivate. If you like the Best American Erotica series, you will love this collection of short stories and poetry. Genres represented include science fiction, fantasy and romance. Each page is a demonstration in scorching sensuality. Regardless of the format, these authors deliver unique entertainment.
Summary: Comprised of stories and poetry by various authors, this is an erotic anthology with a purpose. All proceeds will be donated to victims of the 2007 Southern California wildfires. The book's contents reveal relationships affected by fire in various forms. Fire affects first-time acquaintances in "Blind Date" by Stephanie Vaughn. If poetry's your thing, you'll be intrigued by a lover's request to explore pleasure in "Ask Alice," by Selena Kitt. (Phaze, Dec. '07, 276 pp., $13.00)

—Keitha Hart

RT review

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Partnership 101

Will & Alessia have submitted a short "How To" piece to Literotica under the Coming Together umbrella. Please pop over & vote. Proceeds (if there are any) will be used to purchase copies of Coming Together volumes for book signings & promo. Thanks!

~ ~ ~

Partnership 101

by Coming Together©

Welcome to Coming Together, the show by and for authors of erotica! Our topic this afternoon is collaborative writing. Joining us today are two exciting authors who have Literotica to thank for their "coming together" -- Will Belegon and Alessia Brio (a/k/a "impressive" or even "Imp"). Let's give them a warm welcome. *applause*

Host: Please tell our studio audience how you two came together.

Alessia: Um, that's a little personal, don't y'think?

Will: He's referring to our writing, ya little minx. *laughter*

Alessia: Oh, right. Sorry. Well, as you said in the introduction, we met online—but we didn't jump right into bed with one another. We got to know each other pretty well first—became friends, established trust. That's important, I think, for satisfactory collaborations. Writing erotica is very much an exhibitionist endeavor. In a way, it's like masturbating in front of an audience. Doing it with a partner just doubles that exposure.

Will: And, as if that's not intimidating enough, you're trying to please your partner in addition to pleasing the crowd. Talk about performance anxiety!

Host: Interesting analogy. Okay, so how do you get started?

Alessia: No matter how often you masturbate, and how good you are at it, you can still expect to feel all the nervousness and anxiety associated with a new affair—and that's true whether you're a virgin or a veteran. Everything's fresh and exciting.

Will: And Alessia's a masturbation expert—a real crowd pleaser. She's not afraid to use some innovative tools to improve the outcome, either.

Alessia: You're no slouch yourself, mister! It can be intimidating to get involved with someone who already has a reputation for his oral—I mean, verbal—skills. You wonder how you'll measure up, y'know?

Host: So, if I'm understanding you correctly, collaborating is like whacking off together—on stage?

Will: That's an oversimplification. Our first couple of collaborations were written in this mutual masturbation kinda style—and it is a nice way to get used to one another. I'd write a section from the male character's point of view, then Alessia would write a section from the female's. It's called 'alternating third person limited point-of-view.' We'd go back and forth a few times until the story reached its—um, climax. Other than some proofreading, though, we tried to keep our hands off each other's parts.

Alessia: Yeah, and that was really tough! There were times when I so wanted to touch Will's parts—almost aching with desire—and I'm sure he felt the same.

Will: You could say that. I'm all about consent, though. I don't touch anyone's parts unless invited. And even after it became quite clear that Alessia wanted her parts touched, I was still reticent. I didn't want to risk hurting her.

Host: That seems wise. However, judging from your bodies—of work, at some point you became quite comfortable touching one another's parts. When did that occur?

Alessia: Actually, it just kinda happened. We really didn't plan it. I guess we were both ready to move the partnership to a new level. One day, we just started writing a story without ping-ponging the point of view—and one thing led to another. Apparently, we managed to put on quite a show, because we ended up getting paid for it!

Will: I'm of the opinion that those new to collaborative writing shouldn't rush into anything too complicated. Third omniscient requires an intimacy that is almost frightening in its intensity. Not only are you touching one another's parts, but you're doing it under a spotlight. The audience can no longer critique your individual performances. You succeed—or fail—as one. You come together—or not at all. The satisfaction, however, makes it well worth the risk.

Alessia: It was hard—very hard—but I managed to overcome my fears. It's still hard sometimes, but we work around it 'cause we're committed to the outcome.

Will: With care and finesse, you can stroke the hard parts. Alessia's a great stroker.

Host: Okay, so that's style. What about the technical aspects? How do you communicate with one another?

Alessia: For us, given the difference in our daily routines, it's easiest to pass a Word document back and forth via e-mail. I'm most likely to get my groove on first thing in the morning.

Will: Whereas I'm at peak in the evenings. So I milk it at night, then send it off to Alessia. She massages it in the morning, adds her piece, and sends it back. We do it all with the "Track Changes" feature turned on and make extensive use of the "Comments" tool. The comments alone in one of our collaborations would make for a good story.

Alessia: Now, we've heard from other collaborators that they role play their characters in an instant messenger session. We've not tried that...

Will: 'Cause it could get a little sticky.

Host: Sticky, eh? Right.

Alessia: The secret, really—and the toughest part—is to be totally open with your partner. If you hold back, you're not gonna be fully satisfied. For example, if you have a problem telling your partner, "I think you should stroke it this way," then perhaps collaboration is not for you. You'd be better off sticking to the solo action.

Host: Doesn't e-mail slow you down, though, when you're developing your story lines?

Will: Yeah, sometimes. For plotting, the transcript of a chat session can serve as a rough outline. But for the most involved stories, we usually resort to aural.

Alessia: Oral's the best, really. If given my druthers, I'd opt for oral almost every time. The outcome is much improved. Really.

Will: I said aural, not oral, you insatiable little...

Alessia: Oh. Well, aural's good—but oral's better. No doubt about THAT!

Host: You make it sound so easy.

Alessia: I am—I mean, it is—easy once that trust is established. But I don't let just anyone touch my parts, I'll have you know! I'm extremely picky about that. For a collaboration to be most effective, partners need to be on the same page in terms of WHY they're in bed together in the first place. For some, it's just a quick roll in the hay—and there's nothing wrong with that. Others are more emotionally invested and/or goal-oriented.

Will: There can even be multiple reasons—and they can vary from piece to piece. It's just important to be clear about them so that you understand where your partner is coming from. Communication is critical in any successful team endeavor.

Host: What about multiple partners?

Will: Simultaneously? We've certainly talked about it, and it's undoubtedly territory we'll explore in much more depth. We both want it, but it does introduce a whole new set of challenges. I think a cameo might be the best way to test those waters before getting into anything too intricate.

Alessia: I agree. A three-way in third omniscient would be damned difficult, but that's not to say it can't be done and done well. In third limited, though, it'd be much easier. Tag team style, so to speak. Each gives head—I mean, picks a head—and focuses completely on it, attacking only from that perspective.

Will: Now, individually is a different story. I've done it with someone else. Alessia has not. Or if she has, she hasn't told me about it. We're both open to the idea of hooking up with others outside of our partnership. Again, that trust is key.

Alessia: Without a solid foundation, it's easy to see how you might feel threatened by your partner's desire to branch out. I look at it this way: Either I have what it takes to keep my partner coming back for more, or I don't. If I don't, then it's only a matter of time before he (or she) decides to move on. I mean, why invest gobs of time and energy into a partnership that's not meeting your needs? That just results in anger and hurt feelings. It's better for all involved to just let it fade away and move on—either solo or with another partner. No hard feelings.

Host: Well, you've certainly given our audience a lot to think about. Thank you. Any parting words of advice for folks who want to attempt doing it with a partner?

Alessia: Leave your ego at the door and don't be afraid to let it all hang out.

Will: And prepare yourself for a wild ride!

~ ~ ~