Sunday, July 30, 2006

Conspiracy Theory

I think there may be a conspiracy to make me a fan of poetry.

It began innocently enough. I read Ali Leibgott's The Beautifully Worthless, which is part prose, part poetry, and really liked it. I've picked it up a couple times since, read a few pages, and crushed over it again.

My introduction to Trebor Healey's writing was his novel, Through It Came Bright Colors- absolutely the best book among the Violet Quill nominees that year, so it was no surprise to me when it won. That's how these poets suck me in, I've decided. They write astounding prose and then next thing, I'm holding a copy of Sweet Son of Pan in my hand and listening to Trebor read these amazing poems, and I say, "Wow. If it's like that, I think I can get into this."

Sometimes I think there's a space/time continuum anomaly surrounding Trebor, because every time I talk to him it feels as if I have to think at the speed of light just to keep up with him, but physical time stands still. Then I look at my watch and two hours have passed. This space/time mystery surrounds his writing too. I meant to pace myself this weekend and read only a couple of his poems a day. Then I read a few more. Next thing I knew, it was Sunday evening, and I didn't have any more to read. Now I'm carrying hia words around in my brain, and a few in my heart, and I have a feeling that I'll be taking this collection out into the backyard on other weekends and passing pleasant hours reflecting on his work. Which -egads - makes me a fan of poetry. It's a conspiracy, I tell you.

Psst. You wouldn't be holding, would you? Whitman? Auden? I just need a taste.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


When I first started writing erotica, I had two personal limits: no straight vanilla, and absolutely no vampire stories.

The vampires taboo got chucked first. But I want to be clear about this - I sold out for money. Well, I wanted to work with an editor I admired, and the only anthology she had open was titled Blood Surrender - obviously vampire themed- so you could argue that I did it for artistic reasons, but it was really the cash that lured me.

I subsequently wrote another vampire story that I have yet to sell, but that one would not get out of my head until I wrote it down, and I had another deadline coming up for a different anthology, so I got it out of my system and went on to write something that paid. That was sheer self-preservation. I do not break my limits on spec. Please - I'm a professional. (If you're another erotica writer, even though you know I'm full of it, stop laughing. I'm trying to be serious here. Okay, not really.)

After I'd been writing erotica for a while, I got a bit of fuck fatigue. Erogenous ennui. Jism jaded, as it were. It took stranger fantasies to excite my imagination. Hardcore BDSM? *yawn* Puppy play? *meh* Anal sex? *sigh* Enema play? *been there, done that - on paper* So I was looking for something really kinky and twisted to rev my engines again. I had to push my envelope, all the way to a tale of a hetero, married couple enjoying vanilla sex. I know - I'm such a rebel.

Anyone who has read bondage stories knows that being restrained can help a person move beyond limits, so once I destroyed my existing boundaries, I felt as if I had to set new ones. So I decided I will never, ever, under no circumstances, edit an anthology. It's too much work, takes up valuable creative time, and I'd have to deal with writers. No way. Never. Not gonna happen.

So, I've been brainstorming anthology ideas with Kate Dominic. It's all just talk though. Just talking is fine, right? It's not as if I'm actually going to do it. At least until October, because we're both booked solid with other projects until then.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Uh, Okay

Headline on Yahoo news today:

Payphones Suffer As Cellphone Use Rises.


Payphones are targets for all sorts of nasty things. Slugs instead of coins jammed into their delicate slits. Eviscerated. Receivers ripped away. Vandalized. Phone books stolen. Graffiti. Their booths used for illicit sex... The mean streets are a hard place to survive. And now, the coupe de grace, cellphones. Makes me want to go pat a payphone on the, er, head, and say, "There, there." If only I could find one. Wait a second- my cellphone has internet access! I'll just Google an address.

And somewhere, a payphone suffers indignantly, yet stoically, this final humiliation.

Oh, the humanity... of inanimate objects.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Milestone, Of Sorts

I updated my submissions spreadsheet today when I received an acceptance letter for a story.

For the first time in ages, I counted how many stories I've published. 30. It's a nice round number. Sure, it pales in comparison to the 300 plus Kate Dominic can claim, or the 200 or so M. Christian has, but I'm happy with my 30. No. Not happy. Truly, deeply astonished and thrilled. Time for a happy dance.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Social Writer

Trebor, Justin, and Trav at Equal Writes reading.

Air conditioning. Ahhhh.

I went to Trebor Healey and Justin Chin's reading at Skylight Books in Hollywood last night to meet up with Kate Dominic, and to spend some time chatting with the guys. The air conditioning was a huge bonus during this heat wave. We sweltered the day before in Long Beach at Equal Writes at another reading that included D. Travers Scott. (I'd never been to Equal Writes before, but now that I know about it, I'll go back. It has a great room for readings, and I strongly support independent book stores.)

It's always fun to watch D. Travers Scott while he reads, because he puts so much body language into it. I also love to hear him try to sum up the complicated plot of his Lambda Award winning novel, One of These Things Is Not Like The Others. It makes me feel better about my inability to summarize my plots in two-line Hollywood style pitches.

This is the first time I've heard Trebor read his poetry. Had to buy his newest collect, Sweet Son of Pan, because I liked what I heard. I'm just getting back into reading poetry after years away from it, but with work like this to read, I'll become a fan.

I'd heard of Justin Chin but never met him before. I'm completely in love with his sense of humor now. When I bought my copy of Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus Blossoms, he gave me a bonus cum rag, took it back, told me I looked slutty and probably needed a bigger one. I could listen to this man talk for hours.

All of these guys are Suspect Thoughts writers. It's so nice to chat with writers who are happily published. Gives me hope.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Another reading

Going to Equal Writes in Long Beach this Saturday to hear Justin Chin, Trebor Healy, and D. Travers Scott read. Who schedules a reading at 3PM? Ugh. Too late for lunch, too early for dinner. Oh well, guess we'll just have to go out drinking afterwards!

On a completely different topic - last weekend I caught the David Hockney exhibit at LACMA It's only showing at two museums, one in Boston, and here in LA. It's his portrait work, which I don't like as much as his other stuff, but I still thought it was excellent. Hockney has such a way of capturing the southern California landscape. Except for people, everything he draws is draftsman straight with harsh lines, which takes some getting used to, but it's what you see when you look at LA. Not to be missed - the oil of the dachshund. I was cracking up about the expression on that dog's face for a good hour. I most liked Hockney's pencil and crayon work (especially Peter 1966 - a nude who, thanks to the application of pink shading, looked freshly spanked), but they had textiles, photos and watercolors too. If you can make it, go.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lars Eighner

Lars Eighner's Elements of Arousal is my favorite book on writing smut. Many erotica writers rave about Susie Bright's How to Write a Dirty Story, and maybe if I'd read it before I wrote my first smut I would have found it helpful, but by the time I read it, I found nothing useful in it.

Usually when I find a writer I like I hunt down everything s/he writes and devour it, but sometimes I have to be reminded. Frank Herbert was like that. I've read Dune a million times, but only recently picked up his Dosadi Experiment. (Highly recommended, BTW) While I was at Saints and Sinners, I went to a master class with Steven Saylor, and he mentioned Travels with Lizabeth by Lars Eighner.

It's been on my reading stack ever since I got back from New Orleans. Less worthy books were on the top of it. Under threat of having my book buying habit cut off unless I actually read the collection I amassed, I tackled the others first. Call Travels With Lizabeth my reward for enduring everything that came before it.

A reviewer on Amazon sneers at his prose, but it flowed for me. His observations of the mental health system, which he worked in, and the arbitrary rules of public aid are enough to make you angry and make you laugh at the same time. While I might have enough in me to survive prolonged homelessness, this books made it clear that I don't ever want to find out. And yet, as often as I gritted my teeth at the things he endured, he never made it seem like a pity ploy. Just reporting the facts. This book is a real eye opener. No matter how many pancake dinners and hand-me-down Christmas presents we had, I realize that I had a good life while growing up. An address and clean water are true luxuries. Highly recommended reading.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Searching for Valentino

(As promised, Keziah)

Keziah Hill, an ERWA writer and member of staff, visited from Australia. I don't often get a chance to play tour guide. As fashionable as it is to despise LA, I love it here. Yes, it's a travesty of land management. Yes, if you want to find examples to prove up your worst opinions, you'll find them. Yes, it's crass, harsh, isolating, and unforgiving. So don't move here. But I will take you around when you visit.

The first thing I ask visitors is, "Which LA do you want to see?" It sounds like a silly question, but my vision of Los Angeles is that it's a series of parallel universes occupying the same space and time. There's natural wonders LA, queer LA, botanical LA, art LA, movie industry LA, Mexican LA, Japanese LA, Goth LA, Catholic LA, Historical re-enactment LA, theater LA, street hustler LA, beach city LA, academic LA, musical LA, roller coaster LA.... You can be so absorbed searching for one that you drive past all the rest and don't see them.

Lucky for me, Keziah was into the a la carte LA approach. A little tacky tourism, some art, a smattering of history, and a bit of other things. I like someone with a sense of adventure. And a sense of humor.

My plan was to take pick her up in Santa Monica, cruise PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to Sunset, and then drive Sunset into Hollywood - which would have worked if I'd paid more attention and turned on PCH instead of 1st Street. So we got an unintended tour of the Santa Monica canyons and Brentwood, but eventually I got us back onto Sunset.

The city made a real effort to clean up Hollywood, so outside Grauman's Chinese Theater, and the Kodak Theater, was almost sanitary. I remember when it was the textbook definition of scummy. I kind of miss that. The place was packed with squeaky clean American families and tourists from around the world. Across the street is Disney's El Capitan, and they had their marquee tricked out for Pirates of the Caribbean. That got old fast, so we headed for our next stop on the tour.

I first heard about Hollywood Forever when a friend was running a political fundraiser. They set up an outdoor screen at the cemetery and showed a movie. People sat on blankets on the lawn. Kids ran around. Hot dogs and popcorn were eaten. Most Americans are aghast at the idea, but other cultures view cemeteries as places for the living too. I didn't make that fund raiser, but it stuck in my mind as a place to go, so when Keziah said she was up for it, I had to drag her there.

The cemetery is right next door to Paramount Studios, and it has an excellent view of the Hollywood sign, so it was worth going there just for that. I don't know why, but we picked Rudolph Valentino's crypt as our destination. We could have just as easily chosen Bugsy Siegel, or some other celebrity, but we were off to find Valentino.

I used to do some orienteering, and I'm a decent navigator, but the map we had just about defeated us. We hiked outside the huge building. I tried to recall footage I'd seen on the news of the ritual rose the mysterious lady in black used to bring to his grave. Memory told me that it was an outdoors mausoleum. We stepped over squishy newly laid sod (not a grave). Rudy, where are ya? It was 107 degrees. I was tempted to run through the sprinklers spritzing a vast lawn. A flock of ducks gave us an earful when we disrupted their nap. At some point, I realized I'd never even seen one of his movies, so traipsing around a cemetery under the midday sun without a hat or sunblock trying to find his final resting place was sheer lunacy, but that just made the quest into a mission. And damn it, I never fail at a mission! With burning determination, we continued our trek through the cemetery. In the distance, I saw a statue that looked like a guy holding a guitar, but we were in search of Valentino and would not turn from our task. Sweat skidding down my spine. Finally, the light dawned. Valentino didn't have a big mausoleum to himself. That news footage was a dramatic re-enactment - faked! We went inside the huge building. Under the filtered light of a Tiffany-esque window, on a white marble wall, a plaque with his name. And like all sagas, the quest was the thing, not the grail. In other words - total let down. Not even a rose.

We decided to check out the guitar player. Turned out to be Joey Ramone. I wished I had a guitar pick to place with the others in his hand.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Got an interesting e-mail today. The publishers of Zane's Caramel Flava anthology said that the story I submitted to Caramel Flava 1, Tomorrow's Saints, was being "seriously considered" for Flava II. They didn't ask if it was still available. They simply told me to wait for a follow-up e-mail if it's accepted.

Usually, when a story is rejected, I get it back in the hands of another editor as soon as I can. But that editor never rejected my story. I had to figure it out on my own.

Editors who can't be bothered to send out rejection letters really irritate me, because it means that I sit on a story I could sell to someone else. Most editors I submit to do act with professional courtesy. Then again, I rarely submit to an editor unless s/he has a good reputation.

After my experience with the editor of Caramel Flava, I made a decision not to submit there again. The thing is, I haven't sold that story elsewhere. It took me a while to realize the story was rejected, and since then I haven't seen a call for submissions that it fit. If I had sold it, I would relish writing the editor a note saying that it wasn't available. Right now, I'm thinking that I might politely decline the "honor" they've seen fit to bestow on me. But the devil on my shoulder is reminding me that a buck is a buck, my story will have a lot of exposure, and I shouldn't get so pissy just because some people have no professional manners.

What to do? (This could all be a moot point if I figure out a year from now that they rejected it again.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Happy Happy Joy Joy

It may only be the sixth, but I’m having a splendid writer’s month.

I sold three stories. Two anthologies I’m in have been released. And I’ve had some very nice fan letters this week – not stalkerish.

D. Travers Scott and Trebor Healey have a reading I’m going to later this month, and an ERWAster is dropping into town for a quick visit.

Plus – I’ve started writing again! Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oh damn it, what year was inter-racial marriage legalized in Ohio?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Duped, Again.

I’ve mentioned many times before that I belong to the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, which is a website as well as running three very active lists. One of the lists, Story Time, is for posting stories or chapters of novels and receiving critiques from other writers. It is the best writer’s workshop in any genre. I’ve visited a lot of online and real life critique groups and none have come close to the level of support and depth of knowledge available in this group.

I rarely post stories anymore because I don’t have a lot of stories to post. However, since ERWA is an important community to me, I put in citizen hours critiquing other writer’s works. Yes, it gets a bit tedious when you’re pointing out the same grammar or style mistake to the same writer week after week. At some point, I usually stop reading his/her work. Yes, reading the same “impossibly hot girl with red hair, huge tits, and emerald eyes walks into a bar, hits on Joe Schmo, much to the barkeep’s disbelief (and there’s usually a bet riding on it between Joe and the barkeep), and they go knock it out with physically impossible sex, she comes ten times, Joe gets it up again seconds after coming, and oh, by the way, totally unoriginal twist – it turns out they’re married,” story offered up by a lot of new writers, but hey, they think it’s original. (It would be nice if people read the genre before writing it so that they knew how tired that story is, but eventually they do figure it out.) And yes, I get really tired of female submissive stories with perfect rich dominant masters who live in mansions. Zzzzzz.

But what drives me crazy is when I fall for a call for help. A writer friend told me that she no longer critiques because of being burned by one too many of these pseudo calls. After this weekend, I know how she feels. Someone posted a story with a header that read something like: “Help, I’m trying to get this published, but I need to drastically cut word count and I can’t see where I can cut. Please oh please oh please help me.” I’m always willing to lend a hand to someone going for publication, so I set aside several hours to go over her story line by line. It wasn’t a bad story. It wasn’t poorly written. It simply asked too much from the short story format. She had too many scenes. Too many characters. Too many plotlines pulling in different directions. I told her – it’s a novella, or you cut X,Y, and Z, use them for another story, and hone this down to your main plot and characters. Her reply? "I don’t want to do a novella. I like X too much to cut it even though it has nothing to do with the rest of the story. I’m keeping Y because I like the extraneous plotline. And by the way, I’m keeping Z too, because I think it’s a hot scene." The funny thing is that a few other writers I admire gave her essentially the same critique. (I didn’t read theirs until after I sent mine.) And she answered them the same way she did mine. She didn’t want help, she wanted to be told that “Yes, this is the greatest story, EVER!” I hate being duped when someone cries wolf (or editor, or publisher).

I won’t be critiquing her work again any time soon. And I doubt the others will either. It’s one thing to ignore our advice, quite another to boldly tell us that we’re all wrong. *rolling eyes* Writers….

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What a Game!

I didn't have any favorites between Germany and Italy, (My Fabio Cannavaro lust aside.) so I sat down to this match with a determination to cheer for the beauty of the game, not a side.

People complain that soccer is a low scoring sport. It is, but that should prove to them how precious each goal is, how hard fought, what an accomplishment it is, not that the sport is boring. When I watch TV for an hour and a half, it's because I'm riveted, not because I don't have anything better to do. Did you see the footwork? The brilliant passes? Did you notice how exceptional the referee was? I sure did. When Italy put the ball in the net, I was on my feet. Not because it was Italy, but because it was the beautiful game at its finest.

I'm so glad it didn't go to PKs. I think any fan is. If it had, Germany probably would have won. It was evenly matched. Both teams were awesome. It's too bad it wasn't the final, because I can't see it getting any finer that this.

What a game!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

All Hail the Internet Gods

I love doing research for my stories. It's a great excuse to burn hours getting nothing done and pretend that it's work.

A story I'm working on is set around 1978 to 1980. Music plays a small role, but I had to be certain what dates Oingo Boingo and AC/DC had songs out. This set up a great debate with the SO. I moved constantly while growing up, and songs have strong geographic links in my memory. He spent his entire life in one place and the years meld together, something he will not admit. It truly irked him that I was right almost every time about the years Saturday Night Fever, Blondie, and the Police charted. In retaliation, he followed me around the hovel serenading me with every song he knows I hate down to the core of my being.

The Pina Colada Song. *urp*
Undercover Angel. *hurk*
Anything by Foreigner. *spew*
Air Supply. Leo Sayer. Hall and Oats. Captain and Tenille. Starland Vocal Band.
At that point, my ears were bleeding.

Call me a rock snob, but... Well, I am a rock snob, if that's synonymous with having taste. The SO had the gall to throw STYX in my face, until I reminded him that he gave me the album. Besides, he was a bigger fan than I ever was. (I believe that "preachy and pretentious" was my summation of their work post Grand Illusion.)

For my story, I also needed a band that got a lot of hype in People Magazine, and featured truly wretched lyrics, canned music, and over-produced vocals. I needed a band that was Bay City Rollers bad. Alas, according to Wikipedia, Bay City Rollers were much too early for my story. That lead to a great conversation with the SO about crappy one hit wonders. We spent hours on the internet finding top 100 lists from the right years, singing the songs, and debating which band came closest to my needs. We've just about settled on Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield. I know, I know. Rick Springfield is no Bay City Rollers. But who is? Maybe Christopher Cross....

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Wow. Just... wow.

Brasil eliminated. England eliminated. Argentina eliminated.

My oh my. Who do I cheer for now?

Miroslav Klose

Michael Ballack

Fabio Cannavaro

(Note: 5/23/07 - I had to delete this photo as I'm getting a couple hundred hits a day on my blog from it, and it throws my other stat counters off)

Christiano Renaldo

Oops - I meant to say Germany, Italy, or Portugal. What was I thinking?