Saturday, March 31, 2012

Guest blogging at Oh Get A Grip today

Today I'm guest blogging at the wonderful group blog, Oh Get A Grip. Back in December, I posted here about how excited I was to find Best Erotic Romance, which includes my story "Till the Storm Breaks," on the shelf of a Barnes and Noble in New York City. A friend took a picture of a bundled but ebullient me holding a copy and posted it on Facebook. Kristina Wright, the editor of that anthology, remembered that photo and asked me if I would be interested in writing about that experience – my first paid print publication of erotica – for OGG. I'm honored to write about the subject of Firsts.

Note: I don't have internet access during the day, so I won't be able to comment until later. 

Decisions decisions decisions

It's past midnight as I type this, and while I'm quite tired, I'm also energized. I'm here at the 2nd Annual Momentum Conference: Making waves in sexuality, feminism, & relationships in Washington, DC. I'm looking through the program, trying to decide which panels to take today (because it is after midnight), and wishing I could be in 2, or even sometimes 3 or 4 or 5 places at once. This year there are 40 panels to choose from over the course of two days. I'll be writing more about it tomorrow. Oops, later today.

Unfortunately, we don't have free internet in the room, so I'll post what I'm writing when I go down to the lobby area in the morning. I saw Emerald [link] this evening and she'll be here all weekend. I came down with my friend Dr. Susana Mayer, of Philly's The Erotic Literary Salon fame. Got to say hi to Rachel Kramer Bussel, who will be presenting an Erotica 101 session on Sunday.

Tonight there was a Meet and Greet with a free ice cream sundae bar (I enjoyed my first real treat of the past couple weeks. Then Maria Falzone had us laughing with her "Sex Rules" comediceducational performance. After a short break, the Opening Keynote Plenary with moderator Carol Queen and panelists Dr. Charlie Glickman, Dr. Logan Levkoff, Audacia Ray, and Bill Taverner got the serious part of the weekend started with a discussion of sexuality in today's culture.

I'm tweeting at times from the conference – @erobintica, and follow the hashtag #mcon if you're interested. Also, there's a live blog of tweets from everyone at the MomentumCon website [link].

But now, back to deciding what to go to this weekend.  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sexy senior acceptance!

I'm very excited to announce that I'll have a story, "To Bed," in the upcoming anthology Still Naked: Erotica for Seniors, edited by Joan Price. She's the author of Naked at Our Age and Better Than I Ever Expected. This was a call specifically for writers over the age of fifty. I'm 54. Though I don't consider myself a "senior," I do know that there is a difference between my erotic self now and even just five years ago. I'm trying to work that out in my writing as I discovered of late. But this piece that's been accepted for this Seal Press anthology is more memoir, so it should be interesting to see what feedback I get on it.

And on top of all this, I get to meet Joan Price this weekend at the Momentum Conference in Arlington, VA. This conference is about "Making Waves in Sexuality, Feminism, and Relationships." I'll be blogging more about that tomorrow and over the weekend. I went last year, to the very first Momentum, and it was fantastic.

So, yeah. I'm excited! :)

March out like a wildfire

It's hard to believe it's almost the end of March. Time is flying by as Mr. E and I fix up our house and clear out close to twenty years worth of accumulation. We're hoping we can have it ready for market sometime in April and that the perfect person/people will see it and snatch it up. We want to get up to Maine. You've seen my pictures over the years. I need, no, NEED, to be up there.

But, as a result of all that effort, my blogging has been minimal at best. But there's a bunch of things happening right now and I need to blog about it. So, I'll be blogging up a firestorm over the next week or so, trying to get back in the habit of blogging.

Oh, and this Saturday, I'll be guest blogging at Oh Get A Grip. I was thrilled when Kristina Wright, asked me. This week the theme is "You never forget your first (editor that is)." So check it out. And I'll post a reminder on Saturday.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Best Sex Writing 2012 goes beyond the headlines

Note: This post is part of the Best Sex Writing 2012 virtual book tour happening in March. Check out the other dates at

I usually enjoy the Best Sex Writing series, but this one–Best Sex Writing 2012, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel– is definitely going to set the bar pretty high for future issues. The past year has seen a lot of fascinating, and at times aggravating, sex news. And with Susie Bright as Guest Judge, I knew there would be some great stuff in here. She wants us to get fired up since "we're here to reveal the well-sharpened pitchforks of sexual hypocrisy." And those pitchforks and torches and other assorted idiocy are still dominating the news this lovely election year.

Rachel says she could "have filled a book twice this size." I don't doubt it. But these pieces, varying from old-fashioned (sadly since we could use more of this these days) journalistic pieces to a humorous instruction manual, to pseudo-excerpts (what do you call an excerpt that is different?) from books that are better than what made it into those books. I have to say, none of the pieces in this collection bored me. Even the ones I didn't expect to find interesting, I did. Even if you've read many of these pieces online or in print, this collection brings them together in a way that reinforces, for me at least, why this series is very much needed.

A few highlights from BSW 2012.  

Katherine Spillar's Sex, Lies, and Hush Money: This piece, which originally ran in Ms, is about the John Ensign scandal, just another one of a seemingly endless supply of "family values" Republican hypocrite stories. While it may not seem like a very "sexy" read, it's one of those stories that gets your blood boiling, though not in an erotic way. If you don't think this is a timely piece, consider that presidential candidate Rick Santorum played "a minor but still telling role" because he's the one who "alerted Ensign to the fact that the whole sordid tale was about to be leaded to the media." 

Amber Dawn's To All the Butches I Loved between 1995 and 2005: An Open Letter about Selling Sex, Selling Out, and Soldiering OnThis personal essay by the Lambda Award winning author (for Sub Rosa in 2011) was my introduction to a writer whose books I'm now wanting to read, despite the pile of a couple of dozen (at least) books that I'm almost finished, in the middle of, just started, or got-to read. Also, I'll admit, I'm partial to the "open letter" form of personal essay. What's it about? It's all in the title. A wonderful piece. 

Joan Price's Grief, Resilience, and My 66th Birthday Gift: A version of this is in her book Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex, which I'd read last year. This piece is about the erotic massage that Joan bought as a birthday present to herself a year and a half after the death of her husband. In the version here, she paints a more detailed picture, and the emotions of the experience are better portrayed than in the book. I'll probably be writing a post about the book itself sometime in the future, since I found it personally helpful. 

Roxane Gay's The Careless Language of Sexual Violence: This piece, which was originally published at The Rumpus, is her reaction to a New York Times story about a Texas gang rape of an 11 year-old-girl - no, make that about the poor town and how this crime had ruined lives and ripped a town apart.  I'd followed this news story, had read the Times piece, and Roxane's sharply critical writing about the language we use was like welcome common sense to me. She examines her own writing too: "As I write stories about sexual violence, I wonder if I am being gratuitous. I want to get it right. How do you this sort of thing right?" She's still at it here

Adrian Colesberry's Adrian's Penis: Care and Handling: There's a lot of "heavy" in Best Sex Writing 2012 (and I think that's a good thing), but there are pieces that are "light" and humorous without being stupid. I'd heard about How to Make Love to Adrian Colesberry, but had no interest in reading it. But then I read this excerpt–complete with endnotes!–and if the rest of the book is as charming, I just might have to.

Lidia Yuknavich's Love Grenade: I'd already read, and been blown away by, The Chronology of Water, which contained a version of this piece. I like this one better. Not that I went line by line to compare (though I was tempted), and I kept wondering which version the author liked best. But lines like this "We ate the animal out of each other's bodies we ate steak we ate chocolate two women my chocolate"  make me swoon. Yeah. I hope to write more about this book soon.

Well, I could go on and on, I even thought of writing a brief reaction to each and every piece in this collection, but with 24 authors represented, I'll just say go buy the book. If the subject of sex interests you, you won't regret it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why I signed

The Electronic Frontier Foundation letter to Paypal.

If you don't know what this is about, check out the Banned Writers site, There you can find links to all sorts of articles and blog posts and petitions. Basically, Paypal sent a number of ebook publishers a letter telling them  to stop publishing erotica (and one would assume other works as well) containing themes of rape, incest, bestiality or they'll have their accounts basically shut down. So these ebook publishers informed their authors to take down any offending works. This bothers me so much, that I'm writing here to try and make sense out of why I'm so all-fired-up about it when on first glance it doesn't affect me at all. 

The other day, I posted a short piece over at We Who Are About To Die, a "lit blog" that I sometimes contribute to. The title of the piece was "First they came for the underage, incestuous shapeshifters." Yeah, it's a cheeky title, but I'm quite serious. Erotica, which I write, and have published, is being targeted right now, not "literature." In fact if I recall correctly, the wording of the original request had to be reworded so that it was understood that only "icky" writings had to be removed. [I could be wrong here - I remember reading something - but I've read so much the  past couple of days that if I go searching for it, I'll never get this post written.]

Literature is full of underage sex, rape, incest, and bestiality. Here is a short list that Remittance Girl compiled. 
The Old and New Testaments
Most Classic Greek homoerotic poetry
Romeo and Juliette
A Clockwork Orange
The Tin Drum
Little Birds
Flowers in the Attic
I, Claudius
Everything by the Marquis de Sade
Story of the Eye
Moll Flanders
Tess of d'Urbervilles

I'll add (though some may not consider it fine literature) an international bestseller that's been made into a movie twice: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. This book has all those no-no themes as the basis of the entire plot of the book! I mention that now since I'm rereading it after having seen the 2011 US version, so it immediately came to mind.

Remittance Girl (RG) is one of the first erotic writers I came across when I started to explore erotica online a number of years ago, long before I ever thought to share the few things I'd written or write it (erotica) seriously. And publish it? Never did I dream...

But I did. The saga of my journey is contained in the posts of this blog, now more than three years old. The friends I've met in the erotica community of writers are some of the most supportive of any community I've ever been part of. And so it only seems right to me to be supportive of those writers, even though I've not personally been affected. At first glance. 

If you look over on the right side of my blog, you'll see the link to Coming Together: Al Fresco, the anthology that my first piece of published erotica (other than on this or other blogs) can be found in. If you click on the link, it takes you to a page about the collection, published through All Romance Ebooks. But if you click on the link that takes you to ARE so you can buy it, you get a page that says "You must be logged in to view this page" just like you see when you click on the "Erotica" link on the site. You cannot see the books that are offered. You can see other books (including "Erotic Romance"). So, since CT: Al Fresco is exclusively through ARE, that means that the anthology that contains my first published story is, in my opinion, not really available. That makes me sad, even though I've always felt a bit conflicted about the label "romance." Which is ironic because my first published IN PRINT erotica is in Best Erotic Romance. Go figure. 

This morning I was taking a walk and was thinking about the whole situation. I'd signed the letter. Even though I don't foresee myself writing any underage rape incest bestiality stories anytime soon, and I sure don't go searching them out to read, I most certainly don't believe that those subjects should not be written about, no matter how repugnant you find them. It is in the shameful shadows that these things occur in real life, and I believe that writing (whether fiction or non) shines a light. Writers who want to explore these subjects should be able to, AND be able to share their work with those readers that want to read it. I wondered how it felt to suddenly find that your work is "banned." 

We're used to submission calls listing what we cannot write about. I've not been writing long enough to feel comfortable (or even uncomfortable) writing - that is JUST WRITING something with one or more of the forbidden topics. I understand the reasoning. I understand it all too well. Don't want to make something that is damaging in real life seem attractive or even worse, arousing. But wait. If we're writing stories, make-believe, why then don't we ban anything that has violent themes? Why allow books that have murder in them? I'll get back to this in a minute.

It's because of the sex. People in general are terrified of the power inherent in sexuality that's shown in all it's complexity. Makes us "animals." And even more terrifying is women's sexuality. That's plainly clear in the current round of slut-shaming and contraceptive wars. Most of this "transgressive" erotica is written by women for women. It's scary to the powers that be. 

Maybe you think that this kind of writing should be banned (though if you do, I'm not sure why you're here reading this blog - because most of the searches that bring folks to my blog are pretty interesting). But it's a slippery slope. If these nasty things are banned, what's next?

Already many authors are feeling the irritation of the binds that they have to work under. Early on in my erotica "career" I sent a short flasher to a blog contest, one of Alison Tyler's flasher contests, anonymously posting it in comments like was required. When my entry did not show up, I inquired. Turned out that my story, Pulsating Jets, which concerned a couple–not alone–in a hotel room, couldn't be posted the way it was written. The couple was sharing the hotel room with their children, who were asleep. Could I change it? I did change it. I understood the ramifications (someone I respected having her blog shut down) and I wouldn't have wanted that to happen. It wasn't a major change, but going back and rereading it, I realized that the change made the story less "true" in a way. By the way,  here it is (scroll down to read the story). 

I have other stories that I've never attempted to publish because I remembered that. Stories in which married parents of children have sex with each other. But the children are in the beginning of the story (at the school bus stop) and I was afraid if I didn't cut that out, nobody would want it. And I didn't want to cut it out. Maybe that's just me being overly cautious. I'm still finding my writerly erotic voice. 

Some of us write because we want others to read what we write because we enjoy reading what other writers have written. I think it's sad when I stop myself from writing something because I'm afraid of what other people may think of it (I've done that a lot this past year). I think it's sad when others do it. But this time I'm bothered enough that other writers are being told their work isn't "okay" that I'm not only standing up for them, but standing up for myself. 

This is not finished.  I have much more to say. But it's almost 6:30pm and dinner is almost ready. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A link and a cheer

Today, I weighed in on the Paypal debacle over at the blog We Who Are About To Die, where I have a once-in-a-while gig as The Naughty Librarian.

I'll probably write down some thoughts here at another time. Lately I've been very busy with packing up my household in anticipation of putting our house on the market and moving (when it sells) to Maine. Writing has sort of taken a back seat to all that. But not entirely.

Today I got an acceptance email! Looking forward to announcing that soon. But it couldn't have come at a better time. :)

I know I've been neglecting this space, but rest assured I've not abandoned it. I'll be back once the house is ready. In the meantime its packing and sanding and painting.

*Oh. Just found out that the link to Coming Together: Al Fresco, the anthology containing my first published erotica story, takes you to a page that requires you to log in before you can see the results. Great way to do business!