Category Archives: Eros

It’s My Anniversary! Here’s a Giveaway!

Here’s the backstory: Today is the anniversary of the day I married my son’s father. I’d had the baby a couple of months previously, but marrying him was everyone’s idea of the “right thing to do” – so, on our lunch break (I’d just started working in his family’s company) we went to the courthouse and tied the knot, with the baby drooling on my grey work shirt. I’ve never regretted – and never will regret – my son, but I’ll always regret the marriage. Silver lining? Every second of your life, you’re making a choice. You’re choosing how to spend your time, and who you spend it with. I love Happily Ever Afters as much as the next girl- but staying in a bad situation doesn’t make it better.  Celebrate your every moment!

In celebration of making BETTER choices, I’d like to give you a gift: Love’s Enduring Bond (NOTE: This does NOT mean that I will be your soulmate for life. This is a book, people.) You can enter the giveaway here!

love's enduring bondThe blurb: A bloody conflict put them on opposite sides, but could not break their bonds of passion.

Elizabeth Warner fell in love with Justin Holt at their first meeting when Elizabeth’s father moved to the Shenandoah Valley to take up a small medical practice there. Justin taught her the joy and passion of love on their wedding night, but war intruded on their bond. When he rode away to war as a colonel of Confederate cavalry, she took their young son and moved back with her father, to nurse Union wounded at her surgeon-father’s hospital in Washington. She tried to put the war and her love of a rebel officer out of her mind until his battered body was carried into her surgical ward.

It’s historic fiction written by Jean C. Keating,a deceased Williamsburg, Virginia author that had diverse interests. She had degrees in mathematics, physics, and information systems; she was Virginia’s Outstanding Young Woman of 1970; she was an aerospace engineer for NASA; she was the head of research for Virginia’s Higher Education Council; she was an animal lover (she especially loved Papillons) – and she was a writer. A writer that was passionate about many things, and wrote this historic romance set during the War of Northern Aggression (For you Yankees, that’d be The Civil War). I never met Ms. Keating, but I wish I had. She lived a full life and maintained hope in Love’s Enduring Bond. Here’s to that.

Enter the giveaway here.

Check back to see who wins- and be sure to subscribe by email so that I have a way to contact you about getting the book to you!

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On Marriage, by Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.


Loose Girl

When my boyfriend gave me a copy of Loose Girl a couple of years ago, I was mortified and delighted. My initial reaction was something like, “Um?”

“I just thought you  might like it,” he said. “You seem to be interested in that sort of thing.

He was right.  I was interested.

This book isn’t my story, but it was profoundly interesting subject matter: a young girl that gives of her body rather promiscuously (almost indiscriminately).

From the site:

A Memoir of Promiscuity loosegirl

For everyone who was that girl. For everyone who knew that girl. For everyone who wondered who that girl was. Kerry Cohen is eleven years old when she recognizes the power of her body in the leer of a grown man. Her parents are recently divorced and it doesn’t take long before their lassitude and Kerry’s desire to stand out—to be memorable in some way—combine to lead her down a path she knows she shouldn’t take. Kerry wanted attention. She wanted love. But not really understanding what love was, not really knowing how to get it, she reached for sex instead.

Loose Girl is Kerry Cohen’s captivating memoir about her descent into promiscuity and how she gradually found her way toward real intimacy. The story of addiction—not just to sex, but to male attention—Loose Girl is also the story of a young girl who came to believe that boys and men could give her life meaning. It didn’t matter who he was. It was their movement that mattered, their being together. And for a while, that was enough.

From the early rush of exploration to the day she learned to quiet the desperation and allow herself to love and be loved, Kerry’s story is never less than riveting. In rich and immediate detail, Loose Girl re-creates what it feels like to be in that desperate moment, when a girl tries to control a boy by handing over her body, when the touch of that boy seems to offer proof of something, but ultimately delivers little more than emptiness.

Kerry Cohen’s journey from that hopeless place to her current confident and fulfilled existence is a cautionary tale and a revelation for girls young and old. The unforgettable memoir of one young woman who desperately wanted to matter, Loose Girl will speak to countless others with its compassion, understanding, and love.

Kerry Cohen tells her own story in a slightly disapproving tone. It has a Happily Ever After, with a grateful ‘I don’t deserve it’ twist; I believe she is trying to save others from following her path. I gave it to another friend (Rhiannon) to read after me. “What did you think of it?” I asked her.

“I mean, it was interesting, but I didn’t really get anything out of it.”

We both agree that the book had a moralizing tone that is a bit off-putting. I suppose looking back on one’s own life has a tendency to lead to “should-haves” and “if-onlys”. If I wrote my autobiography, I’m sure it would have something of a cautionary tone to it as well. Contrasted with The Sexual Life of Catherine M., I  much prefer the redemptive story. Not everyone does, I suppose.

I published this blog, and within a couple of hours, a friend texted me to say, “sorry you relate to that.” I guess I don’t, entirely: but it sure is interesting.

You can get your copy of  Loose Girl here.

NOTE: I purchased all of these books for my own personal gratification, and am not being paid to endorse any of them. However, if you’d like to earn me some money, feel free to shop in my Amazon store.


Anais Nin: The Last Days

kraftSometimes I think I’ve made a clean break with Anais except for purposes of nostalgia, but when I saw Barbara Kraft’s memoir of the end of Anais Nin’s life I knew I had to read this book. Several years ago, I began a quest to understand the path that Anais took, and discern whether or not it brought her to a place of happiness.  Perhaps, I thought, if it had, I could follow her lead.

If you’ve been reading my previous blogs (or know anything about Anais), you know that the path she took ultimately led her to maintain open (and even bigamous) marriages and other relationships and run in a fascinating circle of  writers, artists, and other interesting people. Personally, I believe that Anais was one of the most talented female writers to have ever lived, but I got lost in the web of her writing and never got the clear, concise answers that I wanted.

Reading this memoir  took me a couple of evenings. Part journal, part biography, Barbara Kraft includes a lot of her own feelings about her personal relationship with Nin, acknowledging that she wasn’t particularly a fan of Nin’s work before she began being mentored by her. They established what seems to have been a close relationship, and Nin (by this time an icon of the feminist movement) encouraged Kraft to leave her unhappy marriage and publish her own journal, among other things.

The author of this book met Anais and her second husband Rupert Pole, and then independently met Henry and then  Hugo.
If you remember the story, Anais was married to the banker Hugo Guiler, with whom she had an open marriage. She met Henry Miller while living in Paris in the 1930s, and they established a clandestine relationship that lasted for years.  Other lovers and friends came and went throughout the course of the journals – all interesting, many famous – but the erotic parts were all intially edited out of her 7-volume published journals, preserving the people in her life from knowing the realities of her dalliances, glossing over truths. In the final stages of life, there is no more varnish.
Barbara Kraft met Anais during a time when the public perception of her was of a “pure” woman: one that was virtually untarnished by the influence of men. A woman that was true to herself and lived her own way. Women looked to her as a sort of guru, a guide – perhaps that way that I initially did.
When Barbara met Anais, she was living a seemingly normal California life with Rupert, in a small hous. He scrimped and saved his meager income from his U. S. Forestry Service career to build her a house  designed by Eric Lloyd Wright– a place he hoped to anchor her. Anais was young for her years, and in the height of her literary celebrity (despite being taken less seriously by more traditionally styled authors).
While battling cancer, Anais confessionally talked to Barbara in more detail the closer they grew. What is revealed in this book, in a very concise form, is much the same as a condensed version of the unexpurgated journals that Rupert edited and released for her. What is revealed in this book is the simple truth that Anais was a victim of childhood incest and spent her life struggling with poverty, dependent on men. The picture painted in this simple ‘memoir’ is of the “steel butterfly” – an elegant woman that was unable to stand alone, and so spread her dependence out in manageable doses.  Is it really that black-and-white? Obviously not, because she often depended on men to help other men in her life – for instance, doing  radical things like supporting Henry Miller  with her husband Hugo’s money and even financing the publication of Tropic of Cancer with money from one of her other lovers (Otto Rank).
Was Henry the “love of her life?”
Henry would send me twenty, thirty, and forty page letters. Often I received two in a week. They were rather intimidating… I could never respond on that level. Henry didn’t save them [her letters] for the most part. I was really the muse to Henry. I was never dependent on him. We were able to maintain the passion because there was no responsibility involved. I could leave Henry and go home to my husband, who took care of me.” She spoke in this book of how he was too unreliable to count on for anything, but so much fun. Anais needed reliability, security – and found her fun elsewhere, until her last several years. In the long run, though, she left Henry.
 
Henry always missed Anais, but married three times, divorced them all, disgusted that no real woman could meet his ideal.  Anais said

Kraft and Miller

Kraft and Miller

He said the most startling thing to me, Barbara. He asked me, ‘What has it all been about? What are all those words? Why all that writing? For what?’ “ According to Kraft, he told her that if he was reincarnated, he said that he wanted to come back as a gardener because writing is “a curse. Yes, it’s a flame. It owns you. It has possession over you. You are not master of yourself. You are consumed by this thing. And the books you write. They’re not you. They’re not me sitting here, this Henry Miller. They belong to someone else. It’s terrible. You can never rest. … I hate inspiration. It takes you over completely. I could never wait until it had passed and I got rid of it.” Regret at the way he’d spent his life.

Hugo was frail and old, by this time, and Anais still had a room in his place. He’d lost the money she depended on for years “gambling in the stock market,” and her diaries were supporting him. He kept her toothbrush and makeup where she left it, showing it off like an art exhibit, playing film reels of her to guests, saying in awed tones “This is the authentic voice of Anais Nin.” He didn’t even have her other home address, her other phone number; he knew she traveled, and her friends – their friends –  were in on the scheme of keeping her other life a secret. She wished she’d divorced him, made a clean break, but the marriage had been too long, she’d needed him too much, and she owed it to him to spend the end of her time repaying him for his years by taking care of him the way that he’d taken care of her.
Did any of that maker her happy?
When Anais lay fighting death, Barbara asked her the question of happiness:And the next day or the day after, sitting in my usual chair next to your bed, your hand hot and dry in mine, I asked you if you had known much happiness in life. “Hardly any,” you whispered, turning your head to look at out the window at the dank sky…
I never knew much about Rupert before now, but Anais seemed to believe that after years of men after men after men, that he was both solid and passionate. She  told Barbara “In Rupert I found the wedding of marriage and passion. Never deny passion, Barbara. You  never know where it will lead. Passion can lead to love.”
I believe that Rupert Pole was the love of Anais’ life. She was able to settle down with him to a life that appears smaller than many of the other lives open to her. In the end of her days, she was even willing to help him meet his physical needs elsewhere when she was no longer able.  And he devoted his entire life to her words, establishing a literary foundation in her honor, editing and publishing four “unexpurgated” versions of her journals, which included erotic content about her other lovers. He continued to support Anais’ legal husband, Hugh Guiler, even after her death. The woman he spent the rest of his days with as his companion was someone that translated Anais’ works into Japanese.
So- all of the long, convoluted journeying aside, she seems to have ended her days in a relatively normal, contented life, with a man that loved her very much, and whom she appeared to love as well. I suppose that’s about as happy as any ending can ever get.
The one unfortunate part of the book is that it seems that Barbara Kraft, as so many other women,  seemed to forget that Anais was human, and our choices are our own. No results are guaranteed from anyone else’s formula. There’s a twinge of bitterness and blame in this book for the consequences that publicly sharing her own journeys caused Barbara Kraft, and I can relate to that – which is sad, because our choices were really all our own.
Get your copy here.

“Every World Needs Love”: an interview with erotic romance author Elizabeth L. Brooks

Elizabeth Brooks is a vivacious person with twinkling blue eyes and an anecdote for every occasion. When I learned she was a published “erotic romance” author, I was delighted – and nervous. I read some of her work, and enjoyed it almost as much as I enjoyed talking to her – review to follow soon!

How did you get started writing?

“Started” is such a nebulous verb… Somewhere in a box at home, I have a story I wrote when I was about five years old about a reindeer and a snowman, complete with a construction paper cover and barely recognizable pictures. I wrote about half of a poorly-planned mystery/horror story when I was in middle school called “Bangle Hills Manor,” mostly because I really liked the title and needed a story to go with it. In high school, I wrote an angst-laden short story that thinly disguised myself and my friends in a post-apocalyptic setting and (probably all too clearly) outlined the way I *wished* That Guy would ask me out. I showed it to another friend, who demanded to know What Happens Next. We expanded it into a novella-length story in which the writing was only barely eclipsed in horribleness by the truly glurge-y plot.

I dabbled with poetry for a few years (ah, teenage angst) and eventually came back to prose in college, when I amused myself and friends by writing background stories for my favorite characters in the role-playing games I was playing. These got *slightly* less awful over time, and in my late 20s and early 30s, a dear friend and I collaborated on what, over several years, turned into a 300,000 word novel. (For reference, a small novel is usually around 50,000 words, and the average paperback is probably about 100,000 words or so.) It was never published — it can’t decide if it’s a romance or an adventure story, and thus is currently unmarketable — but it helped me solidify the world in which “Safe Harbor” is set, and it was the first project I’d finished that I thought might actually approach publishable material.

Then I had kids, and that kept me too busy to write much for several more years. So I didn’t get around to writing anything actually suitable for submission until my late 30s. Since then, I’ve managed a novella a year, plus a short story or two here and there. I’m not a fast or prolific writer, but I’m usually pretty pleased with the results.

Why erotica?

To be fair, most of my publications aren’t strictly erotica; they’re erotic romances. I think the “romance” tag is important — I’m not just writing about sex, but about the physical expression of love and affection. A lot of erotica is missing that emotional element, and I personally find it much less enjoyable and arousing as a result.

As to the why… I guess I never entirely got over that teenage glurge stage. I love a good romance — I love feeling the power of yearning, and I love that moment when the despair of loneliness is transformed into hope and joy. I include the sex scenes because oftentimes, the characters express themselves more truly (if wordlessly) in the midst of passion than they ever can during any other waking moment. And because — let us be honest — it’s fun.

Every story I write is an easier and more certain way for me to fulfill my jones for a really satisfying romance than actually having to experience it… and less likely to get me in trouble with my husband, as well!

What influenced your decision to work with a publisher that only offers ebooks?

To be fair, Torquere Press offers print books as well, but only for anthologies and novel-length works, which so far I haven’t written. But I can tell you exactly why I chose to submit to them. I follow a ridiculous number of webcomics, and I particularly like the ones that tell good stories with engaging characters. One link or another led me to Friendly Hostility by K. Sandra Fuhr. I devoured all of it, and then sought out the previous comic that had spawned it, Boy Meets Boy, and devoured that, too. I’m still a fervent fan of all her projects, and while Friendly Hostility was active, I was an occasional participant in its LiveJournal community. When Sandra announced that she was publishing a trio of stories with Torquere Press, I jumped on them eagerly. They’re still some of my favorite re-reads, even though they’re now out of print, and until that moment, I hadn’t been aware of any publishers remotely like Torquere. So when I wrote “Of One Mind” and a friend told me that it was good enough to publish, it didn’t take me long to decide to try them first, and I was lucky enough that it was accepted.

(A note for the curious: “torquere” is Latin for “twisted”, and it’s pronounced “tor-CARE-ay”.)

Where do you find your inspiration for your characters?

It varies. The “Of One Mind” characters just materialized in my head when I started playing with the concepts that constructed the world. Jody from “Of Sound Mind” was inspired by a particular photo of the actor Keith Hamilton Cobb. Rafe and Tyver from “Safe Harbor” are reincarnations of a pair of thieves from an RPG I used to play. Everything is grist for the mill, as the saying goes.

Do you have a favorite project out of the ones you’ve worked on so far?

I have to say “Safe Harbor” is my favorite book so far. I think it’s got a stronger story and tighter writing than anything else I’ve done. But the scene between Calis and Jereth in the clothing store in “Of One Mind” is probably my favorite single scene in anything I’ve published.
What can your fans expect to see next?

The next thing I know for certain is coming out is a story called “Assumption of Desire”. Unlike my previous stuff, which was all sci-fi or fantasy, this is a contemporary piece. It was inspired by a young man I met while I was at a GLBT Pride festival in Roanoke, VA this past fall. “Assumption” is currently scheduled for release from Torquere in March.

I also have two short stories out for consideration; both of those are for themed anthologies, one about succubi and one about the military. They’re both a departure from my other work in that they’re heterosexual, and the succubus one is erotic horror instead of romance. I haven’t heard back on either one yet; but watch my blog for news!

Which authors have you found most influential over the course of your own life?

I’m such a voracious reader, it’s hard to narrow it down to a core list. My earliest influence is probably Mercedes Lackey’s “Magic’s Pawn” series — they were the first books I’d read with gay main characters who got to have satisfying and fulfilling relationships, and I was surprised by my own strong response to that emotion. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden books have been a huge influence on my writing style. I’m also a big fan of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. For erotic influence, I have to admit to A. N. Roquelaure (a.k.a. Anne Rice)’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy. (Yes, I like series.) And finally, I’ve learned an incredible amount about the art of storytelling from the works of Neil Gaiman.

Least Favorite author?

James Joyce. I’m aware that the whole stream-of-consciousness style he pioneered was a thrilling experiment in storytelling, but it makes me crazy because the narrator’s mind jumps in completely different ways than my own, so I always find myself lost for whole pages before I figure out what’s going on again. I still have no idea what the heck happened in “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

I’ve been told that not everything he wrote was like that and that I should give some of his other works a try, but let’s be honest… There are thousands of worthy authors out there and there is no possible way to read *everything* that I could want to read in my life. So outside of a classroom requirement, is there any reason I should re-read an author I’ve tried and didn’t care for when there are so many other options on my plate?

What color are your socks right now?

They’re green, with light blue starfish. 

*

Stay tuned for my take on Safe Harbor, along with a giveaway of a variety of Elizabeth L.  Brooks related  swag- including a signed print-out of Liz’s e-book, Of Sound Mind. (Can’t wait to see more of Liz’s writing? You can download Of Sound Mind for free on Goodreads, or throw money at Liz here.)