Exclusive Excerpt: Tongue Tied


Most of us have been there — caught somewhere between expressing our own needs and suffering in silence. It isn’t easy to talk to someone you care about, especially if the it’s about a sensitive topic, like finding new heights of passion in the bedroom.

According to Marriage.com, poor communication is the third most frequent reason for divorce and in a study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, it was found that communication and sexual satisfaction can independently predict marital satisfaction. However, if the communication was bad, sexual satisfaction did not contribute to a relationship’s overall health and success.

And that does not only apply to the married couples. Having solid communication skills is imperative to a person’s success in life, in work, and in the home. We’ve all read the articles, taken the advice, filled out the surveys, read the self-help books that promise you a solution, only to let you down when it comes to practical application. That is where Stella Harris, certified intimacy educator and sex coach, stands out from the crowd. She is not only informative and emphatic, but provides sound advice for improving communication skills in the home, with partners, and in kink play. But, even better, her advice has real applications in every type of relationship from love to business.

Below is an excerpt from Stella’s new book, Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships on one important key factor in communicating with your partner: setting apart time to have serious conversations in a safe space.


This might sound silly, but we don’t always take time to talk to the people who are the most important to us. Maybe you chat about your day, what’s going on at the office, or the movie you just saw, but when did you last talk about your feelings?

Or maybe you and your sweetie(s) don’t get to see each other that often, and you feel reluctant to “ruin” date night by having hard conversations. You just want to enjoy your time together and not risk derailing the evening.

Either way, sometimes the most important things are the hardest to bring up.

Whether you’re simply giving your partner a heads-up that there’s something you’d like to talk about and asking if it’s a good time, or actually scheduling time to talk, it’s important to differentiate “talks” from simply chatting about your day.

You need to be in a different headspace to really share—and hear—heavier stuff about how you or a partner are feeling. That’s why it can be helpful to have a scheduled time on the calendar to talk about how things are going. Depending what your organizational style is, you can even make an agenda for these talks.

Whether you set these talks for once a week or once a month, it can be helpful to know that you’ve got a time coming when you can raise any concerns you’ve been having, set your shared schedule for the coming week or month, and make sure you’re on the same page about the relationship.

If you’re a note-taking type, like I am, you might even keep a running list for yourself of things you want to talk about at the next meeting. Putting something on the list and knowing you’ll get a chance to sort through whatever it is can help take it off your mind in the meantime.

When you have your first scheduled relationship talk, set some ground rules about how you’d like it to go. Are you agreeing on an agenda together? Are you each getting equal time? Are you tackling one big topic, then each adding your own smaller items that have come up since the last meeting? Knowing how the talk will go can be as important as the talks themselves.

Another thing to consider is location. Some people will be most comfortable doing this at home, and for other people having these talks in public is easier. Sometimes being out in the world is a good backdrop to keep things on an even keel, if you’re afraid the talk might get tense or emotional.

The bottom line is figuring out what it takes logistically to make it most likely that you and your sweetie(s) will get what you need from these conversations.

At a minimum, give your partner a heads-up when you want to have a difficult conversation, and check in about whether it’s a good time. Sure, sometimes things come up in the moment that have to be addressed, but if the issue isn’t immediate, you’ll get the best results if you have the conversation when everyone is in the right head space for it. It’s also another way to establish a consent culture within your relationship, by letting people opt in to serious talks rather than being surprised by them.

With clients, I often call these State of the Relationship talks. Just like oil changes, software updates, and putting air in the tires, everything requires ongoing maintenance, and relationships are no exception. Once you’ve decided to have these regular talks, here are some things you might want to cover:

  • Needs and definitions around sex.
  • Household logistics, chores, etc.
  • Vacation planning.
  • Big personal topics that affect everyone—job changes, moves, etc.
  • Your schedule for the coming week or month, depending how often you have these talks.
  • Scheduling date nights.

Sometimes just knowing that you have a built-in space coming up to raise issues can make things feel less urgent. Often it’s not knowing when or how to bring something up that causes the most stress. When you have these talks already on the schedule, you’ll also have a built-in time for bringing up new kinds of sex you’d like to try, or a fantasy you’d like to tell your partner about.

Most people think that figuring out how to start the conversation is the hardest part, so if you’ve got time to talk built in already, you’ve already done the hardest part and you can focus on the information you want to share, rather than worrying about how to bring it up.

Tongue Tied is available for purchase at all major retailers in print and digital formats. Or feel free to order a copy at your local independent bookstore! 

Amazon     iTunes     Barnes & Noble     Google Play     Kobo




Cleis Press Back to School Sale


It’s never too late to learn about pleasure…

And Cleis Press is here to help, despite some web design difficulties. I think we may have to go back to school for that one ourselves…

To help you discover the best instructional and sex ed titles, they are listed below by subject category. From learning the art of BDSM to mastering fellatio, we have you covered!

Sale ends 9/31/18.



50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM by Tristan Taormino

As Kinky as You Wanna Be: Your Guide to Safe, Sane and Smart BDSM by Shanna Germain

The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge by Tristan Taormino

The Ultimate Guide to Strap-On Sex: A Complete Resource for Women and Men by Karlyn Lotney



Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma by Staci Haines



The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Men by Bill Brent

The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians: How to Stay Sane and Care for Yourself from Pre-conception Through Birth by Rachel Pepper

The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners by Charlie Glickman, PhD

The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide for All of Us by Felice Newman



The Cleis Press Sextionary by the Editors of Cleis Press

The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals by Stephanie A. Brill and Rachel Pepper

The Transgender Teen: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Teens by Stephanie Brill and Lisa Kenney



Better Sex in No Time: An Illustrated Guide for Busy Couples by Josey Vogels

The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever Written by Cathy Winks and Anne Semans

Never Have the Same Sex Twice: A Guide For Couples by Alison Tyler

Never Say Never: Tips, Tricks, and Erotic Inspiration for Lovers by Alison Tyler

O Wow: Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm by Jenny Block

Opening Up: A Guide To Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Alison Tyler

Partners in Passion: A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy and Long-term Love by Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson

The Smart Girl’s Guide to the G-Spot by Violet Blue



The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Men by Bill Brent

The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women by Tristan Taormino

The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus 2nd Ed.: How to Go Down on a Woman and Give Her Exquisite Pleasure by Violet Blue

The Ultimate Guide to Fellatio: How to Go Down on a Man and Give Him Mind-Blowing Pleasure by Violet Blue

The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge by Tristan Taormino

The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women: How to Become Orgasmic for a Lifetime by Mikaya Heart

The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians: How to Stay Sane and Care for Yourself from Pre-conception Through Birth by Rachel Pepper

The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners by Charlie Glickman, PhD and Aislinn Emirzian

The Ultimate Guide to Sex After Fifty: How to Maintain or Regain a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life by Joan Price

The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain, and Illness by Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg, and Fran Odette

The Ultimate Guide to Sex Through Pregnancy and Motherhood by Madison Young

The Ultimate Guide to Sexual Fantasy: How to Have Incredible Sex with Role Play, Sex Games, Erotic Massage, BDSM and More by Violet Blue

The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex: All You Need to Know About Masturbation by Jenny Block

The Ultimate Guide to Strap-On Sex: A Complete Resource for Women and Men by Karlyn Lotney


<3 Cleis Press

Five Signs You Might Be a Submissive


Vanilla (adj. vəˈnilə): A person (typically heterosexual) who prefers basic sexual intercourse within a committed romantic relationship. Vanilla people have no interest in “unusual” sexualities or kinky behavior (The Cleis Press Sextionary).

You may have been called “vanilla” or used the term to describe yourself, but what if (and considering the scope human sexuality it may not be THAT big of an “if”) you were more? What if there was a hidden desire just under the surface that is itching to be scratched, explored, and opened up for your enjoyment and the pleasure of others/your partner? Maybe you secretly are a submissive or have one or two never uttered submissive kinks that send off little explosions of interest in your nether regions?

Whether you know about the BDSM scene or if you only encountered BDSM through the box office hit and bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey, maybe it’s time you did a little exploring yourself?

While there are tons of options to explore in the BDSM scene, let’s start small…

You might be a submissive if:

  1. You like being in charge.

“I want you to write down exactly how you want me to fuck you tonight, darling.”

“Words” by Jo Henny Wolf

Most people may think that a Dom/Domme is the one in charge of a given sex scene. In reality, it is the submissive that will set the tone, lay the ground rules, and set the limits. So if you are the kind of person who loves to plan and then sit back, relax, and watch the fruits of their labor unfold, you may really enjoy experimenting as a submissive!

  1. You enjoy roleplaying (or at least the idea of it).

“On her wedding day, her mother confided that a good wife must find it in her heart to submit gladly to her husband’s desire. She never said how easy that would be.”

— “The Back Room at the Saloon” by Donna George Storey

Ever imagine yourself as an obedient house wife/husband that succumbs to the wishes of his/her lover? A damsel in distress to a shining knight? Or even a doctor’s filthy, little patient? Guess what? In each of those scenarios, there is someone who is a Top (the dominant) and someone who is a bottom (the submissive).

  1. You are stubborn by nature.

“Above all things, you challenge Sir to break your composure; toying with him this way is your idea of a game night.”

— “Symphony of Submission” by Jordan Monroe

While some people want to be in charge, others are just stubborn. If you are stubborn, ask yourself, “Am I stubborn because I want someone to push back? To challenge me?” If your answer is yes, you just might be a sub. A naughty submissive may displease their Dom/Domme/Master/Mistress on purpose in order to push a pre-defined boundary a little further by disobeying an order.

  1. Sometimes… you need a little push to be as naughty as you want to be.

“For him to grapple with an idea meant that I would, too. For when he pushed himself, he pushed me. When he surrendered to his true nature, I yielded entirely to mine.”

— “Lashed” by Dr. J.

Have you often found yourself in a social setting fantasizing about that dark and brooding hunk in the corner or that super-sexy lady at the center of attention? Or have you had difficulty telling your partner that the scene in the movie you watched last night really turned you on and you want to try it? Regardless of the situation, do you find yourself… wanting to be ravaged by your hearts desire? Do you wish they could just read your mind and know all the filthy things you could never utter? Sometimes all a submissive needs is a push to really let go and embrace their hidden urges.

  1. You feel as if you’ve run out of Vanilla options to explore.

‘“And our regular sex doesn’t do that for you?’

My eyes open at the sad tone in your voice. No. That’s not what I mean. “Our sex is wonderful.” Always. “This is just…” I shrug. ‘A fantasy.’ One I would only trust to someone like you.”

—“The Framework of Fantasy” by Sonni de Soto

Were you always the girl/boy with the hottest sexual exploits that are always the envy of your friends? Sex on the deck of a cruise ship at night under the moonlight? Check. Threesome? Check. Orgy? Been there, done that. Even if you have never been into the parts of BDSM popularized by Fifty Shades of Grey there are so many other sides to BDSM and being submissive.

This list was inspired by The Big Book of Submission, Volume 2: 69 Kinky Tales edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel.

This book can be purchased any place where books and ebooks are sold: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, and more!


Cleiss Press also offers a wide variety of instructional guidebooks on getting into and/or perfecting the art of the bedroom. Here are some titles that may be of interest to you:

As Kinky as You Wanna Be: Your Guide to Safe, Sane and Smart BDSM

The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic

The Ultimate Guide to Sexual Fantasy: How to Turn Your Fantasies into Reality

The Ultimate Guide to Sex Toys

The Ultimate Guide to Bondage: Creating Intimacy through the Art of Restraint

The Cleis Press Sextionary

January’s Exclusive Excerpt


This month Cleis Press is excited to announce the official publication of our newest book, The Big Book of Submission, Volume 2: 69 Kinky Tales edited by the erotica maven herself, Rachel Kramer Bussel. Rachel is hardly ever one to steal the spotlight, but we felt it was her time to shine as a writer, as well as an editor. To show our appreciation to our devoted fans and voracious readers, we invite you, nay, we ORDER you to enjoy this luscious excerpt from one of her own short stories in this collection, “Choker.” You liked that didn’t you? Well… don’t change your panties just yet…

When I thought I’d just about collapse with my need, my pussy clenched so tight I wasn’t even sure if his cock could t there should he change course, he guided me up for a deep kiss, his lips bruising mine before he gave me a slap across the face that made tears and a smile leap to my face.

Raul untied my wrists, and then made me crawl ahead of him up the stairs, until I was once again kneeling, this time on the bed, blindfolded. Having won back the use of my hands, I wrapped them around his shaft, guiding them up and down. But within a few minutes, he’d instructed me to squeeze his balls, and was slamming his dick in and out of my mouth, the way we both like it.

That’s when I felt it—fingers probing my pussy. I held back my startled reaction, because an even more urgent one was rushing on its heels—sheer arousal. The other times we’d played with other people, it had always been prearranged by both of us. Clearly, this was a special treat for me. “I didn’t tell you to stop,” Raul growled, giving my hair an extra-hard tug as he pulled me up, while the unknown person’s fingers not only plunged deeper, but also played with my clit.