Friday, March 30, 2007

Book Lust vs. Writing Lust

A month or so ago, I bought a book reading journal. It's very cool. The title of the journal is Book Lust, and it's full of blank entries for me to record all the books I read. Each entry has a space for the title, the author, and the date I read the book, and then a page of space for my comments on what I thought of the book. I was really excited about this idea of recording what I’ve been reading, because lately I’ve changed interests. I grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy. In the last few years I’ve added horror and historical mystery to that as well. But very recently I’ve dropped all that for more "literary" stuff. By literary I mean I’ve been picking books that show up either on the NY Times bestseller list or on the “What’s New” shelf at the library and book store.

It’s quite a change, like suddenly going from eating meat to being a vegetarian. But I like it. I was getting tired of reading a lot of the same stuff over and over again, to the point where I had quit reading all together because I couldn’t bring myself to pick up another sci-fi book. Of course, I don’t always like what I pick up in the “literary” section either, but then I made a deal with myself. If I don’t take a shine to a book within the first two chapters, I don’t have to keep reading. This means I’m getting most of my books from the library, because I can’t afford to buy a bunch of books and then put them down after two chapters, but my local library does keep a pretty good selection, so I'm good.

One of the things I’m most interested in reading right now are books put out by the major publishing houses that are billed as “erotic.” Now you know I write erotica, so I have very particular ideas about what is and isn’t erotic. To me, an erotic story means a tale with sexually explicit writing whose purpose is to arouse the reader. There is no “fade to black” when the sex takes place. There are also no veiled euphemisms or purple prose used to describe sex acts and genitalia. Things like that only smother what’s erotic. They don’t add any value at all.

So I’m reading what the big wigs in the publishing industry consider to be erotic. And my conclusion is these guys have no frikkin’ clue about what’s erotic. I’m not saying the books I’ve read are bad. One book I read, Vertigo by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, was actually quite good. Vertigo is the story of Emma, a Victorian housewife, who makes a resolution one year to be a better person. Her husband, a novelist working on a book about prisons, suggests Emma write letters to a prisoner he’s met during his research, to boost the man's morale and act as a friend. Of course, Emma falls in love the prisoner, named Chance Wood, and the rest of the story focuses on their affair and Emma’s discovery of her sexuality. The book was interesting, thrilling and suspenseful in fact. I do not think it was erotic though. There were sex scenes in the book, and to Ms. Baratz-Logsted’s credit, she covered sex acts that most folks won’t discuss even in the privacy of their own bedroom. But the way she wrote those scenes made them seem wooden and dull. Again, I blame the use of euphemism and purple prose. She came close to going into detail about what was going on, but never really hit the target. It was like watching ants mate - biologically interesting perhaps, but in no way arousing to me.

I have this fear that all the “erotic” big sellers I intend to read are going to be like that, and it annoys the hell out of me. Why won’t people write about sex in a way that shows how exciting it can really be? We write about murder and violence with so much abandon, but sex? No, we can’t do that. Or maybe I should say, they can’t do that. You know I can. I do it all the time. In fact, I’ll be busting my ass today to finish up a short story I intend to submit to Best Women’s Erotica 2008. An older woman with a porn addiction seduces a much younger man. Hot stuff. And you better believe that the sex scenes are explicit. In fact, I have more sex scenes in this one 7,000 word short story than Lauren Baratz-Logsted had in her entire book, a fact I find to be quite funny. And once I’m done writing this short story, I’ll be starting on another erotica book. I’ve been e-mailing my editor at Mojocastle Press about some ideas I have and she’s very gung-ho, so I’m feeling pretty good these days. In fact, I’m feeling like a professional writer, which feels better than I ever possibly imagined it could feel.

I love reading. I love writing. I may never get published by a big printing house like some folks, but that’s okay. I love getting up each morning and knowing that I’m going to be doing the stuff I want to do. So life is good, folks. Life is very good.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Baby Got Rap!

With apologies to Sir Mix-A-Lot...

I like clean butts and I cannot lie
You other babies can’t deny
When your diaper’s wet you get upset
And then you start to cry.

That poopie is tough, it’s stinky smelly stuff
Gotta wipe my hiney, make it shiney
When I’m in the buff.

I’m a little bitty baby but I got a lotta rap...
I’m a little bitty baby but I got a lotta rap...

Monday, March 19, 2007

I’m Tired...

To quote Madeline Khan, “Everything from the neck down is ka-puht!”

I don’t know why, but I’ve really been dragging the last few weeks. Okay, maybe I do know why. Sam still wakes up 2-3 times a night, thus completely disrupting my sleep. Although last night she slept straight through, miraculously enough, so I was able to get up before 5AM and get going. I like getting up before 5. I like being dressed and ready to go and having the house to myself for a brief time before anyone else is up and moving. I really like getting a jump on my day. It makes a huge difference in me getting stuff done.

But I’ve been dragging, sleeping late almost every morning, and then falling back to sleep when I nurse Sam, and then taking a nap while she’s napping, etc., etc. So not much has been getting done around here.

Hopefully this will all be changing soon. Last weekend I went to EPICon (a href=””) and for the first time ever got to spend time talking to other erotica writers face to face. I’ve been writing on my own for so long I’d forgotten what it was like to talk to other writers. And I’ve never had the opportunity to talk to other erotica writers. It was very motivating, I have to say. No, even better than motivating. I’m suddenly ready to tear up the writing world with my stories, and I have a million ideas to get down on paper and I can’t wait to get started on them all...

Except that I’m so damned tired!

Oh well. Hopefully last night was not a fluke and Sam will sleep straight through again tonight. We’ll see.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Surviving the Mega-Super-Duper-Galactic-Colossal Princess Tantrum

We had a real special evening here on Monday. I was in the kitchen heating up dinner. Cassie had dragged her father and Sam upstairs. I called up to say dinner was ready and a moment later I heard all this screaming coming from Cassie’s bedroom. Michael came downstairs with Sam a few minutes after that and sat at the table.

Me: Where’s Cassie?

Michael: She’s having a ‘princess’ moment.

Me: Huh?

Sam: Oooooooooooo... phbtz!

Michael: She wanted to wear her ‘Belle’ costume. I said yes, but she should put it on over her clothes because I knew dinner was going to be ready soon. She got undressed anyway and put on the dress and then started pulling out all the accessories. I told her that we didn’t have time for that. She could have them after dinner. She started to fuss. I said that when you called for dinner, I was headed downstairs with Sam. Thirty seconds later, you said dinner was ready, and now Cassie is upstairs screaming because I didn’t put her jewelry on her.

Cassie (upstairs in her bedroom): Aaaaaaaaaagh! Aaaaagh! Daaaaaaaaddy! Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaddy! Eeeeeeeaaaaaaauugh!

Me: Holy cow...

Sam: Ooooooooo! Ooooo! Ooooo... phbztt!

So Michael and I sat down to eat dinner. A few minutes later, Cassie came downstairs, carrying an armload of Disney Princess accessories - jewelry, tiara, scepter, shoes, etc.

Cassie: *Sniffle, sniffle* Mommy? Will you put my accessories on me?

Me: After dinner. Right now you need to sit down and eat.

Cassie: No!

Me: By the way, young lady. That dress is too loose on you and the neck hangs too low. You need to wear a shirt under it.

Cassie: No I don’t! Belle doesn’t wear a shirt under her dress!

Me: Belle isn’t my daughter, you are. Go put a shirt on and come eat.

Cassie: Noooooo! Nooooo! Nononononononononono!!

Sam: Oooooooo! Ooooooo! Ooo! Ooo! Phbttz! Blah!

Me: Either put a shirt on or I will take away the dress.

Cassie ran upstairs, still screaming. Michael, Sam and I continued with dinner to an accompaniment of screaming. After I had fed Sam and eaten my own dinner, I trudged upstairs. I found Cassie sitting in the middle of her room wearing a t-shirt. The dress was lying on the floor.

Me: Cassie, put the dress on and come eat.

Cassie: *Sniffle, sniffle* I w-w-w-want my ac-ac-ac-ac-cessories.

She got up and went over to her pink treasure chest to pull out yet another armful of princess junk. I shook my head.

Me: You may have the accessories AFTER dinner, young lady. Right now, you need to put on your dress and come downstairs to eat.


Me: No, and if you argue with me any more, I’m going to take away all your costumes for a week.


Cassie threw herself on the floor and had a category 5 tantrum. I walked over, picked up the Belle dress, and then gathered up all her other costumes. It took me a total of three trips to get all her princess stuff out of the room. I shoved it in my closet and shut the door. Cassie continued to scream and foam at the mouth while I headed back downstairs.

Michael: So, how did it go?

Me: Cassie has lost all her costumes and accessories for a week. Starting next Monday, she will be allowed to earn them back one at a time. When she stops screaming, she can come down and eat dinner.


Sam: Ooooooooooooo...

And that was the Mega-Super-Titanic-Intergalactic Princess Meltdown. Hope you enjoyed the story. I wish I could find my clothes underneath all that princess crap.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Why I Haven’t Posted Lately

Here are my top five excuses...

1) I’m hip-deep in a new short story, and it’s giving me almost as much trouble as the last one. You’d think I’d learn. By the way, the last story was rejected, albeit very nicely, by the editor of the anthology I was submitting too. He said the story was wonderful, but because of the downer ending and an extremely unlikable narrator, he didn’t think he’d be able to convince the publisher to go with it. However, he said I had talent and I should continue to write. You tell me, do I laugh, or do I cry?

2) I’m tired. I go to bed at 10:30 PM. Sam wakes me up at 2 AM and then again at 4 AM wanting to nurse. I’ve been trying to ignore the 2 AM howling, but she still wakes me up, thus totally screwing any chance I have of sleeping more than four hours straight. I’m so tired that I can’t get out of bed at 5 AM, which is when I really should be getting up if I’m going to get a good start on my day. Oh well.

3) I’m lazy. Let’s face it, I don’t feel like doing anything right now. Today for example: I woke up late, didn’t care; I fell asleep after putting Sam down for her morning nap; I spent the afternoon shopping for blank books and gel pens, neither of which I really need. I just don’t feel like doing anything I’m supposed to do right now. I’m just in one of those moods. It’s probably tied to my writer’s block. Hopefully both will pass soon.

4) I’m busy. Because I oversleep, I’m always running late. Oh, and I’ve added something to my already full schedule. Cassie started karate lessons this week. Now I’ve got to stop work twenty minutes early to pick her up and get her to the dojo on time. So we’re a bit hectic right now.

5) Sam won’t cooperate. As I type this, she is latched onto me and slapping me in the face with her tiny little hand. She’s also kicking the crap out of my arm. I think someone is going down for her afternoon nap real soon, no?

Uh-oh. I just put Sam down in her crib and she is howling. She looked absolutely furious at my betrayal. Apparently smacking me in the nose while I’m trying to work is her right and her duty, and I am an evil tyrant for depriving her of it. Oh well. I have a steamy sex scene to write. She’ll just have to fuss it out.