If I can interrupt your holiday preparations for a moment… I’d like to remind you that today is the 19th of December. No, it’s not just six days to Christmas. Today is Sexy Snippets Day!
The ERWA blog is not primarily intended for author promotion. However, we’ve decided we should give our author/members an occasional opportunity to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public. Hence, we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.
On Sexy Snippet day, any author can post a tiny excerpt (200 words or less) in a comment on the day’s post. Include the title from with the snippet was extracted, your name or pseudonym, and one buy link. No extra promo text, please!
Please post excerpts only from published work (or work that is free for download), not works in progress. The goal, after all, is to titillate your readers and seduce them into buying your books!
Feel free to share this with erotic author friends. It’s an open invitation!
Of course I expect you to follow the rules. One snippet per author, please. If your excerpt is more than 200 words or includes more than one link, I’ll remove your comment and prohibit you from participating in further Sexy Snippet days. I’ll say no more!
After you’ve posted your snippet, feel free to share the post as a whole to Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you think your readers hang out.
by Donna George Storey
The following quote is the sole reader comment on an article in Good E Reader entitled “Cleis Press, Penthouse Collaborate on New Line of Erotica Books” published on April 11, 2014:
“Looks like our hyper-sexualized culture is growing again. I’ll bet most of the authors in this genre are fat and ugly, fantasy based [sic] women with a serious case of penis envy. Rather than writing about anything scientific or useful in business, they’ll write to create boners and fake desire in readers. Trite content for the most part – even if it does make a few bucks here and there. I’m sad for all Americans who value this kind of crap in books.”
I copied the comment and filed it under “mean troll comment,” thinking perhaps I would use it as a discussion point for my ERWA column one day. From the information available, the commenter is (was?–he looked pretty old) a skinny, geriatric gentleman with a white mustache. Nonetheless, I was very impressed that he managed to include every negative stereotype lobbed at female erotica writers in an admirably concise paragraph.
Cleis Press as we knew it then is gone and perhaps the series of “quality erotica” for “’discerning’ readers” is history as well. However, the custom of shaming and insulting women who dare to claim a public voice still flourishes, today more than ever. Thus, it seems the perfect time to dust the cobwebs off the “mean troll comment” and give it a closer examination.
First let’s talk about the fact that all of us female erotica writers are “fat”—and the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache knows this to be true without seeing or meeting any one of us.
My historical research continues to lead me down fascinating byways, and this past month I happened upon a book called Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture by Amy Erdman Farrell. Farrell presents a compelling argument that our culture’s disgust for “fat” preceded the flapper-era craze for androgynous female bodies, which is generally seen as the start of dieting and weight obsession as women responded to externally-imposed pressure to look good in clothes meant for lanky frames. However, while in the pre-industrial period only a wealthy minority had the resources to put on flesh, with the rise of consumer capitalism at end of the 19th century, consumption of all kinds became problematic. Mass culture and industrialization meant that a greater segment of the population was able to buy ready-made “fashion,” processed food and entertainment. Merchants encouraged consumers to indulge their desires to make profits. But in turn, the unleashing of these new markets and longings threatened the established power structure.
Labor unions, the end of slavery, and feminism meant that people who were traditionally excluded from positions of power were speaking up to demand fair treatment. It is in this context that fatness came to symbolize a person who was out of control—a lazy, gluttonous, greedy, immoral, uncontrolled, ugly, primitive subhuman (Fat Shame, p. 27). In the media, fatness was identified with threatening (mostly Catholic and Jewish) immigrants, former slaves and women. Any white Protestant American-born man who was “fat” had shown a revolting lack of self-control and had thus fallen from the pinnacle of humanity. This view was fully in place long before the health risks of obesity became a focus of medical science (a view some fat activists question as skewed by cultural bias and the tyranny of arbitrary insurance charts). But of course, being “fat” still carries a physical and moral stigma in our culture today.
Thus, even in the twenty-first century, a woman who dares to write about sexuality, especially in a positive way that might turn a reader on, is indeed “fat” no matter what the scale says. May I say that I am proud to be so. I’m proud to be ugly, too, which is also an extremely common criticism of women who step out of their God-given people-pleasing role and have an opinion of their own. Because indeed, what the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache is really saying is that we erotica writers dare to take on an ancient taboo—speaking honestly about female sexual desire. That automatically add fifty pounds to any frame.
I feel as if I could write a seminar paper unpacking all the assumptions of my oh-so-economical mean troll comment—such as the fact that everything identified with the female in our culture is called “trite”–but I know you all have holiday preparations to attend to, so I’ll touch on just one more point: the terrible insult of calling us female erotica writers “fantasy based” [sic].
I’ve long taken issue with the denigration of fantasy and masturbation as an integral part of human sexual expression. Hurling insults at losers who masturbate and have to think about sex rather than have it starts with schoolboy bullies and continues unabated as a way to shame us and keep us all quiet about our actual sexual interactions with the world. Let’s examine the fantasy behind this taunt—because it is very much a fantasy of its own.
This view assumes that somewhere there exists a group of “winners” who never have to masturbate or fantasize because the moment they have a sexual urge, they are so slim and beautiful and high-status that a willing and equally attractive partner of the opposite sex (I’m sure the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache would insist that acceptable sex always be of the heterosexual variety) materializes to provide a satisfying sexual outlet that involves no mental activity whatsoever. The rest of the time, these supermen are thinking about scientific or business things, you know, important stuff like how Wall Street can screw over credulous investors and how climate change is a hoax. The boners of these ideal beings are always real, because, remember, there are “fake” boners, so be sure to invite the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache to evaluate your arousal next time to be sure that it’s the right kind or otherwise you’ll be a sad loser–and he’ll be sure to tell you so. Not to mention that you’re fat and ugly and trite.
And remember, if you’re fat or ugly, you have no right to speak.
I’m sure the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache thought he was being very perceptive and original in his critique of erotica writers, but of course, we at ERWA have heard it all before. However, we actually value and proudly enjoy “this crap,” otherwise known as the exploration of the full experience of human eroticism.
To be honest, I kind of pity this guy. Rejecting all the pleasures of fantasy, flesh and self-discovery–he clearly doesn’t know what he’s missing.
Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
Cheers was the place where
everyone knew your name, a home away from home, where you could commiserate
with friends who shared a drink and a little time away from life’s cares.
Utterly unrealistic. Cheers, after
all, was a sports bar. Sports bars are loud, dominated by televisions,
sometimes multiple TVs tuned to multiple sports events. Talk is about sports;
talk is loud; participants talk over each other just to be heard or to make a
point. Their exchanges are determined by what they just saw or heard on the TV.
Not even close.
louder the din, the shallower the talk.
work with a lot of thirty-somethings. During breaks the males will coalesce and
begin to sputter on a limited topic: sports, particularly fantasy games.
Arguments will ensue over the relative worth of a player or coach.
share my desk with a work friend who, like me, is closer to retirement age.
We’ve come to regard the frequent outbreaks of guy talk as “Middle School lunch.” This is because they differ
not a whit from the conversations I remember that preoccupied boys of middle
so the sports bar is everywhere.
upon a time, you could have an actual conversation in a bar, or a coffee shop.
People went to such places just to converse, and some venues were designed
around the conversation. Anyone old enough to remember conversation pits?
places still exist, but I fear they are all in Eastern Europe. Some years back
my youngest took on an internship in Prague while she was in college. She told
me about a night she and her fellow students went out on the town and were
barred from entering numerous drinking establishments at the door. Why? Because
young Americans were regarded as loud, rude, and dullards. They interfered with
me want to hop the next plane to the former Eastern Bloc.
been starving for a long, relaxing meandering conversation, the kind I used to
have with a late friend of mine, eclectic and fractured by an infinite number
of tangents. Oh, we might talk sports, but we’d also sound out religion,
history, literature, the price of eggs, who was and wasn’t gay. It would go on
and on and it gave a deep pleasure to one’s soul.
conversation has become a lost pastime, if not a lost art. Conversation – the
unhurried unraveling of thoughts and ideas, observations and gossip – just
doesn’t seem to fit in the social media age. Today a clever tweet passes as
conversation allows two or more people to develop and illuminate ideas. It’s
akin to storytelling, but not quite. A storyteller, after all, speaks or writes
to a rapt audience who receive the tale, but don’t alter it. So while
storytelling might be part of conversation, all participants steer and adjust
the story, and through that process the initiator of the story might well reach
an ending he did not intend.
toyed with writing a story as a conversation. And while some books I’ve read
could be described as conversational, the only one I ever read whose style was
in the form of a long, meandering conversation with tangents shooting off in
multiple directions is “Son of the Morning Star” by Evan S. Connell.
its face an account of the life and last battle of star-crossed Western Icon
George Armstrong Custer, it is so much more. An entire review of late 18th
century America and the clash of cultures, but told in small morsels of
humanity, with accounts centering on minor as well as major players. By the
time I’d finished the book I felt like I’d spent a few hours in a corner booth
with a gifted conversationalist.
miss it. Conversation, that is. Quiet, unhurried talk.
miss talking with people generally; I miss talking to people without a gadget
in their hand.
guess I’m getting crabby.
In praise of reading out loud
By Sam Kruit (ERWA Editor in Chief)
It’s the end of the year, so I’m going to keep this short and
light and highlight just some of the issues that programmed spell and grammar
checks can never save you from.
If editors aren’t in your budget, and beta readers do things
in their own sweet time, read your work out loud. Seriously. It’s the best
investment of time you can make towards the end of the polishing process.
You’ll catch over-long sentences. You’ll catch awkward
punctuation. You may catch words spelt correctly, but used wrongly. You’re more
likely to pick up on formatting issues. And by focussing on each word
individually, hopefully you’ll rescue yourself from the kind of goofs that
continue to crop up in journalistic writing all the time—ones that even bypass
the section editor or editor in chief.
Read, learn, and giggle if so inclined! Have a great festive
Lesson 1: one letter
out of place changes everything…
Colverson concluded her concert with a rendition of ‘At the end of a perfect
day’ she was prevented with a large bouquet of carnations by the Mayoress.
weather: A depression will mope across Southern England.
teachers receive a higher salary they may decide to leave their pests.
Cross found a bed for him in an institution specialising in the treatment of
who won a brace of pheasants, kindly gave her prize bark and this raised £5.50
for the funds [this one’s 30 years old… so about £35, really!]
was very upset when one of the bridesmaids stepped on her brain and tore it.
Lesson 2: keep an eye on the relationship between subject and
consuming about a hundred portions of chips, 28 pounds of sausages, rolls ice
cream and cake, the Mayoress presented the trophies to the boys.
was stolen from Walsingham Hall over the weekend. Measuring six by six feet,
the thief has baffled the police.
teachers are definitely to blame here. You find them playing on both main and
by-pass roads, throwing each other’s caps and dashing out after them, and many similar
tells you how to keep your hair in good condition. Cut it out and paste it to a
piece of cardboard and hang it in your bathroom.
over thirty deer come to the forest to feed in the early morning,’ said Mrs
Boston, and added that they had thick sweaters and several flasks of hot tea
of drugs were discovered by a sniffer dog hidden in a cigarette packet.
Lesson 3: Watch the juxtaposition of information…
‘DIGGING OWN GRAVE’
celebrated soprano was involved in a serious road accident last month. We are
happy to report that she was able to appear this evening in four pieces.
The boy was
described as lazy and insolent, and when asked by his mother to go to school he
threatened to ‘smash her brains out’. The case has been adjourned for three
weeks to give the boy another chance.
Lesson 4: there is such a thing as trying to say too much in
too few words…
PASSENGERS HIT BY CANCELLED TRAINS
BOLTING HORSE SAVED AFTER FALL FROM PONY
GRAPEFRUIT LATE TELLING POLICE OF INJURED MAN
PUPILS MARCH OVER NEW TEACHERS
POLICE MOVE IN BOOK CASE
MAN CRITICAL AFTER BUS BACKS INTO HIM
Yorkshire received over 20 letters of thanks today thanking them for their
efforts which destroyed five houses yesterday.
In case you might be wondering what I’ve been up to lately, check out this link to the articles I’ve been doing for the great Future Of Sex site. Other things brewing, but writing about the sexuality of tomorrow has been a blast!
Emotional Survival Kit
Please read this if you just had something rejected:
It’s part of being a writer. Everyone gets rejected. Repeat after me: EVERYONE GETS REJECTED. This does not mean you are a bad writer or a bad person. Stories get rejected for all kinds of reasons, from “just not the right style” to a just plain grouchy (or really dumb) editor. Take a few deep breaths, do a little research, and send the story right out again or put it in a drawer, forget about it, remember it again, take it out, read it, and realize it really is DAMNED good. Then send it out again.
Never forget that writing is subjective. My idea of a good story is not yours, yours is not his, and his is not mine. Just because an editor doesn’t like your story doesn’t mean that everyone will, or must, dislike it as well. Popularity and money don’t equal quality, and struggle and disappointment don’t mean bad work. Keep trying. Keep trying. Keep trying.
Think about the rewards, about what you’re doing when you write. I love films, but I hate it when people think they are the ultimate artistic expression. Look at a movie – any movie – and you see one name above all the others: the director, usually. But did he write the script, set the stage, design the costumes, act, compose the music, or anything really except point the camera and tell everyone where to stand? A writer is all of that. A director stands on the shoulders of hundreds of people, but a writer is alone. Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Austin, Shakespeare, Homer, Joyce, Faulkner, Woolf, Mishima, Chekhov – all of them, every writer, created works of wonder and beauty all by themselves. That is marvelous. Special. That one person can create a work that can last for decades, centuries, or even millennia. We pick up a book, and through the power of the author’s words, we go somewhere we have never been, become someone new, and experience things we never imagined. More than anything else in this world, that is true, real magic.
When you write a story, you have created something that no one – NO ONE – in the entire history of history has done. Your story is yours and yours alone; it is unique and you, for doing it, are just as unique.
Take a walk. Look at the people you pass on the street. Think about writing, and sending out your work: what you are doing is rare, special, and DAMNED brave. You are doing something that very few people on this entire planet are capable of, either artistically or emotionally. You may not have succeeded this time, but if you keep trying, keep writing, keep sending out stories, keep growing as a person as well as a writer, then you will succeed. The only way to fail as a writer is to stop writing.
But above all else, keep writing. That’s what you are, after all: a writer.
Please read if you just had something accepted:
Big deal. It’s a start. It’s just a start. It’s one sale, just one. This doesn’t make you a better person, or a better writer than anyone else out there trying to get his or her work into print. You lucked out. The editor happened to like your style and what you wrote about. Hell, maybe it was just that you happened to have set your story in their old hometown.
Don’t open the champagne; don’t think about royalty checks and huge mansions. Don’t brag to your friends, and don’t start writing your Pulitzer acceptance speech. Smile, yes; grin, absolutely, but remember this is just one step down a very long road.
Yes, someone has bought your work. You’re a professional. But no one will write you, telling you they saw your work and loved it; no one will chase you down the street for your autograph; no one will call you up begging for a book or movie contract.
After the book comes out, the magazine is on the stands, or the Web site is up, you will be right back where you started: writing and sending out stories, just another voice trying to be heard.
If you write only to sell, to carve out your name, you are not in control of your writing life. Your ego and your pride are now in the hands of someone else. Editors and publishers can now destroy you, just as easily as they can falsely inflate you.
It’s nice to sell, to see your name in print, but don’t write just for that reason. Write for the one person in the whole world who matters: yourself. If you like what you do, and enjoy the process: the way the words flow, the story forms, the characters develop, and the subtleties emerge, then no one can rule what you create, or have you jump through emotional hoops. If a story sells, that’s nice, but when you write something that you know is great – something that you read and tells you that you’re becoming a better and better writer – that’s the best reward there is.
But above all else, keep writing. That’s what you are, after all: a writer.
by Ashley Lister
‘Twas the night before
And all through the
My partner was laughing
‘Cause I’m hung like a
She was wearing black
And wielding a birch
And I quietly suspected
We weren’t going to
As the holiday season approaches, I thought
it might be fun to try something festive. As there’s no traditional poetic form
associated with Christmas, I figured it would be appropriate to pick a
Christmas poem and use that form.
Obviously, the first poem that came to mind
was ‘The Night Before Christmas’ (‘A Visit from St Nicholas’ by Clement Clarke
Moore). However, because I have always perceived this form as four line verses,
with an x-a-x-a rhyme scheme and variant syllable count, I figured that wouldn’t
be a sufficient challenge for the regular readers of this blog.
A couple of other Christmassy ditties came
to mind but it was only when I was contemplating the lyrics, I realized they
were songs. Frosty the Snowman at
first, then Rudolph the Red Nosed
Reindeer. I was about to dismiss this form as being traditional song lyrics
when I realized that the form was identical to my interpretation of ‘The Night
Before Christmas’: four line verses, with an x-a-x-a rhyme scheme and variant
She thrashed and she
But don’t pity my plight
I knew it wasn’t just Santa
Who’d be coming tonight
never before thought
She might like CBT
But now my balls are now hanging
From her Christmas tree
So, the challenge this month is to write
something festive in this traditional form.
As always, I look forward to seeing your
contributions in the comments box below.
And, I hope you enjoy the festive season, however you celebrate the
 The original poem is
written in rhyming couplets and I’ve been perceiving the caesura as the end of
Well, today’s it, folks! The final day of NaNoWriMo 2016, and it’s been a good one. I’ve loved every minute of it. For those of you who just stepped outside your caves for the first time in awhile, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, the object being – you guessed it – writing an entire novel in one month. I’m an enthusiastic participant every year that I can manage it. It’s a chance take risks, to write something wild and reckless. It’s the opportunity to take on something I’ve always wanted to tackle but have either lacked the time or the courage. And it’s not just a dabble, it’s a whole glorious month of taking something risqué out of the writing ideas box and trying it on not just to see how it fits, but how it feels to live with it, intensely live with it, for a whole month. And intense is probably the best word I can find to describe the experience.
Now that I’m looking back warmly at NaNoWriMo 2016 after trying my hand at science fiction for the first time, what I’m about to share with you may be bordering on TMI, but it certainly won’t come as much of a surprise to most writers. Creativity is a real turn-on. When I’m writing, when I’m in the zone and everything is really flowing, the experience is the hottest thing next to sex that I know. It’s the kind of endorphin rush I’ve had when I’m scrambling up a steep fell or when I’m discovering some exotic place for the first time. And yes, at times those most creative moments are like the best foreplay ever.
Since I started writing romance and erotic romance, my tagline has always been that Freud was right. It really IS all about sex. I believe that more and more the longer I write. Our sexuality infuses every other area of our life, and in no place is it manifest more powerfully than in our creativity. To spend the entire month of November hole up with a new novel, a novel that’s a total stranger when I pen those first words, is intimidating. But it’s also incredibly arousing in a creative sort of way. I think of it as a writer’s version of Nine ½ Weekscrammed into thirty days, with a chance to get to know a total stranger – one I’m in the process of creating — inside out. Yup! Intense.
For me, NaNoWriMo is about taking risks in a safe container. I know it will last only a month. That’s all! And then the rest of the world floods back in. I’ve always thought of November as a particularly short month. To me it always seems even shorter than February. Maybe that’s because it’s the last chance to breathe before the holiday season hits like a battering
ram and there’s no slowing until January. All I know is that if I’m doing NaNoWriMo, I love, love, LOVE November! If I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, I hate, hate HATE November. In the UK, it’s cold, it’s bleak, it’s wet and windy, and the days are short and dark. Even worse, once November blows in at gale force, I know with that sense of cold deep in my bones that summer is over, and even Indian Summer has had its last painful gasps. BUT absolutely none of that matters when November is my container, and I’m writing furiously.
Oh, and it’s gone by so quickly! Here I’m waving good-bye on the platform with a satisfied smile. I’m a better writer for allowing myself to be so completely seduced by the act of writing a novel in only a month. It might be just thirty days, but what a difference a month makes.
Oh, and yes, thank you! I did write my science fiction novel – all 95K of Piloting Fury. And yes, it was most definitely good for me.
writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror,
and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son,
and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook
page, and her Amazon Author Page.
Her new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing
It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda
Strain, and Outbreak. Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by
Cleis Press. You will also find her new novel No
Restraint at Amazon. Enjoy a good, sexy read today.
For The Love Of God, Montresor!
Literary and Media Figures and Their Favorite
Since ’tis the
season for festivities, I though it would be fun to not only write about famous
literary and media characters and their favorite drinks, but to include
recipes! During this holiday season, feel free to be like Phryne Fisher or
Ebenezer Scrooge and toss back one of their favorite cocktails. I found some of these cocktails at The Cocktail Chart of Film & Literature at Pop Chart Lab.
These first three
aren’t meant to be taken seriously, but they’re so amusing I had to include
them. I’m not encouraging you to throw cigarette ash or downers into your drinks,
but if you insist on doing that, at least be creative.
Moe Szyslak – The Simpsons
The Flaming Moe
Drops of various
non-narcotic cough syrup
Charlie Chaplin – The Adventurer
cocktails in the bar poured into one glass.
Alex – A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Alex and his cronies
downed this drink before engaging in some wholesome, clean ultraviolence where
they’d beat up strangers, rob stores, and the like. It’s nothing more than milk
barbiturates – Vellocet, Synthemese, and Drencrom
The following are
classics. I enjoy drinking Amontillado since I am a huge Poe fan. I could drink
this stuff and argue with writers as to who is better – Poe or Lovecraft? That
always ends up being a very heated discussion. When I went to the Stanley Hotel
Writers Retreat in October, 2015, I passed on drinking bourbon on the rocks
despite that being Jack Torrance’s favorite drink since I detest bourbon. That
said, I can’t let this article continue without mentioning those fine
Montresor and Fortunato – The Cask Of
Amontillado – Edgar Allan Poe
Jack Torrance – The Shining – Stephen King
Bourbon on the rocks
Harry Potter – Butterbeer – J. K. Rowling
generally thought of as non-alcoholic but there are boozy varieties of the
drink. There is even a Starbuck’s version. I’m here to give you both.
From Food52, the alcoholic version
includes ½ stick of unsalted butter, light and dark brown sugar, freshly grated
ginger, dark rum, ginger beer, and other ingredients. Go to the link for the
full recipe including ingredients and instructions on how to make it.
Here’s one of the many
versions of a grande butterbeer
for Starbuck’s. Just save this blog post page on your iPhone and show it to
the barista who will make the drink for you. Please don’t do this when it’s
very busy because you may annoy the staff with a special order.
for a Creme Frappuccino base. Don’t skimp on the fat by asking for skim or 2%
milk as whole milk is required for the right consistency.
pumps of caramel syrup.
pumps of toffee nut syrup.
with caramel drizzle.
Phryne Fisher – Miss Fisher’s Murder
Mysteries – Kerry Greenwood
I have enjoyed Benedictine
for many years, but I was sold when I discovered Phryne Fisher likes the
liqueur. My husband’s late father used to declare it on his taxes as medicine
and he got away with it. Maybe it’s because he lived in Europe. Ha! Kerry
Greenwood, who created Miss Fisher, talked about Phryne introducing herself in
the forward to her books.
from Kerry Greenwood, about Phryne Fisher for the books Cocaine Blues,
Flying Too High, and Murder On The Ballerat Train.
Thank you for buying this book. I have a wizard and three
cats to feed. Picture the scene. There I am, in 1988, thirty years old and
never been published, clutching a contract in a hot sweaty hand. I have been
trying for four long and frustrating years to attract a publisher and now a
divinity has offered me a two book conract about a detective in 1928. I am
reading the ads as the tram clacks down Brunswick Street. They are not
inspiring posters. I am beginning to panic. This is what I have striven for my
whole life. Am I now going to develop writer’s block? When I never have before?
Then she got onto the tram and sat near me. A lady with a
Lulu bob, feather earrings, a black cloth coat with an Astrakan collar and a
black cloche jammed down over her exquisite eyebrows. She wore delicate shoes
of sable glacé kid with a Louis heel. She moved with a fine louche grace, as
though she knew that the whole tram was staring at her and she both did not
mind and accepted their adulation as something she merited. She leaned towards
me. I smelt rice powder and Jicky. ‘Why not write about me?’ she breathed. And,
in a scent of Benedictine, she vanished. That was the Honourable Phryne Fisher.
I am delighted to be able to introduce you to her.
Ebenezer Scrooge – A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
I can’t let a
holiday article about cocktails go by without mentioning Mr. Scrooge. This
drink is served warm and it’s perfect for curling up in front of a roaring fire
and listening to Victorian Christmas carols with someone you love.
¼ cup sugar
1 bottle red wine
Juice from several oranges
1 bottle port
Prick oranges with
Let sit for 24 hours
Edgar Allan Poe – Eggnog
I must mention Poe
one more time, since he liked a classic holiday drink. Poe loved eggnog. He
even used in in his classic tale The Pit
And The Pendulum. Poe’s West Point roommate recalled he also couldn’t be
found far from a bottle of Benny Haven’s best brandy. Benny Haven was Poe’s
favorite place to go to drink. The jury is still out as to whether or not he was
an alcoholic. Stories regarding the cause of his death range from rabies to
being beaten to death after refusing to be used in vote rigging. The eggnog was
a family recipe.
cups whole milk, divided
cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cups brandy
the egg yolks and sugar in a medium boll and whisk until thick and pale. Set
aside. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Warm 3 parts milk over
low heat. Whisk 1 cup of warm milk into the yolk mixture. Add this back to the
milk in the pan. Stir over low heat until combined and thickened. Remove from
heat and stir in the cream quickly. Place the saucepan in the ice water. Stir
until chilled then add the brandy, rum, and remaining milk. Pour eggnog into
glasses. Whip the egg whites into stiff peaks in a bowl and spoon over the
eggnog. Top with nutmeg. Merry Christmas!
Topper – Pink Lady
When I first watched
the movie Topper, I became very
interested in Pink Ladies since Marion Kerby swore by them. I have yet to try
one, but maybe this season I’ll give one a try.
1½ -2 oz. Gin
1 Egg White
1 teaspoon Grenadine
1 teaspoon Double
Fresh Strawberry for
ingredients with ice, shake vigorously. Strain into a glass. Garnish with ½
strawberry on a cocktail stick.
2 oz. Gin
¾ oz. Each of
Cointreau and Lemon juice
1 Egg White (if
[Omit the grenadine
ingredients with ice, shake vigorously. Strain into a glass. Garnish with ½
strawberry on a cocktail stick.
Carrie Bradshaw – Sex and the City – Candace
I am not a fan of Sex and the City for reasons I won’t go
into here, but I must give Carrie Bradshaw kudos for popularizing the Cosmo.
4 parts vodka
1 part Cointreau
2 parts lime juice
3 parts cranberry
Shake and serve on
John Steed and Mrs. Emma Peel – The Avengers
The reason my
favorite drink is champagne is due to it being the preferred beverage of Steed
and Mrs. Peel. It’s nearly all I drink aside of red wine, Benedictine, Campari,
and Amontillado. Those two drank it all the time, even when they were painting
Mrs. Peel’s flat. I recall they preferred Chateau Mouton Rothchild, but that’s
a bit out of my price range. I also like brut champagne. The drier the better.
FYI – Oscar Wilde
also preferred to drink iced champagne. At the time of his death, he was
drinking a combination of opium, chloral and champagne. He did say, “And
now I am dying beyond my means.”
And now for the
hard-boiled characters. You don’t get much more hard-boiled than Raymond
Chandler. Chandler was as much of a double-fisted drinker as were his
creations. An alcoholic, he suffered blackouts and threatened suicide. He lost
a job due to drink and began writing at 44. When his wife died, he dived
further into the bottle. His alcoholism haunts his stories. He favored the gin
gimlet just like his character Philip Marlowe. Still, if you want to drink like
the heavies, go for it.
Vivian Sternwood Rutledge – The Big Sleep –
2 to 3 ounces
scotch, bourbon, or brandy
½ cup crushed ice
lemon twist over
edge of glass
Philip Marlow – The Long Goodbye – Raymond
½ Rose’s lime juice
And now for the disasters
amongst us. The Great Gatsby included drinking and excessive living. It was
mainly about the downfall of the American Dream in the 1920s. Fitzgerald
favored gin because he believed people couldn’t smell it on his breath. He ad
his wife Zelda were heavy gin drinkers. Another alcoholic writer, cocktails
figured prominently in his fiction. He preferred the gin rickey, just like his
character Jay Gatsby did.
Daisy Buchanan – The Great Gatsby – F. Scott
2.5 ounces bourbon
2 sugar cubes
4 or 5 mint leaves
Serve over ice
Jay Gatsby – The Great Gatsby – F. Scott
1 shot gin
½ shot fresh
squeezed lime juice
2.5 ounces bourbon
Here’s to the rise
and fall of rugged masculinity from Hemingway and Williams. Although Hemingway
was fond of drinking, he did not do so while writing. Also, his favorite drink
was not the mojito. He was diabetic and couldn’t tolerate the sugar so it’s
unlikely he drank mojitos. He did drink absinthe and double daiquiris without
sugar. His favorite drink was the dry martini.
Jake Barnes – The Sun Also Rises – Ernest
2 ounces applejack
1 ounce lemon or
dash of grenadine
suffered from severe anxiety and drank to ease the pain. He often spoke of his
love for downers saying that they enhanced and unblocked his creativity,
although his critics disagreed. Downers did him in in the end when he choked to
death on a bottle cap to his prescription barbies. Alcohol played an important
part in the lives of his characters as well, Brick Pollett being an excellent
Brick Pollett – Cat On A Hot Tin Roof – Tennessee Williams
2 tbsp bourbon
1 tbsp mild honey
2 tbsp fresh lemon
¼ cup boiling hot
Stir and serve warm
I can’t talk about
rugged masculinity without mentioning Bond. James Bond. While most people
associate Bond with a martini, shaken, not stirred, it wasn’t the only thing he
drank. He enjoyed an Americano in Casino
Royale. My husband and I are huge fans of Campari and vermouth. The
Americano is similar to a Negroni, but it uses Perrier instead of gin. We could
drink either one. To you, Mr. Bond!
James Bond – Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet red
You can’t go wrong
this holiday season with all these cocktails at your disposal to drink. Celebrate
Christmas and honor Phryne Fisher, Marion Kerby, and Scrooge with warmth and
nostalgia. Don’t forget to share with your friends. Happy Christmas to all, and
to all a good night!
by Jean Roberta
So much has been said (even here in Canada) about the election of Donald Trump as President of the U.S. that I can’t think of anything new to add on a political level.
However, let’s consider how government by the “alt.-right” (loosely defined as a broad coalition of white male supremacists, proud gun owners, climate-change-deniers, Christian fundamentalists, and fans of robber-baron capitalism, unrestrained by unions or governments) might affect writers. The first thought that occurred to me was that new laws might criminalize erotic writing, as distinct from crude boasts about “grabbing pussy.”
My second thought was that legal censorship would not be the most serious threat to writers. The English writer Virginia Woolf came closer to the truth in 1928 when she gave a series of lectures which were later published as an essay, A Room of One’s Own, about how women writers are affected by a shortage of actual space and time in which to write. This argument could be extended to everyone who is socially and economically marginalized.
Thinking about my own past, I can honestly say there has never been a time in my adult life when I didn’t write anything. However, as a single mother in the 1980s, I always felt guilty about spending my scarce “free” time on any activity that didn’t involve tending my child or earning a living. I was also trying to finish a Master’s thesis in English, and this project – which is supposed to take a year or two at the most — took me most of a decade, partly due to delays on the part of a supervisor who had other priorities, and partly due to lack of time, energy and self-confidence on my part.
The real wall that tends to keep marginalized or oppressed people out of “mainstream” culture consists of obstacles to self-expression. If you’ve been taught that your real purpose is to serve someone else’s needs (or that you have no purpose and might as well be dead), and if apparently random circumstances reinforce those messages, writing anything feels like an act of rebellion. Everyone has stories to tell, but the obstacles to telling them are likely to be internal as well as external.
As an instructor of low-cost, non-credit creative writing classes in the local university in the 1990s, I met students who wanted to express themselves in written language, but they were afraid of possible consequences. Several of them insisted that they would never write for publication because their relatives and especially their spouses would never forgive them. My students wanted to tell the truth about their lives, but they were afraid that their truth would offend everyone they knew.
My advice might have seemed contradictory on the surface. I encouraged them to write down their most shocking (to themselves) feelings, suspicions and experiences in very private journals that they never had to show anyone, including me. This was Step One. After letting this raw material cool for awhile, students could continue to Step Two: rereading the secret diary, and pulling out sections that could be reshaped to form poetry, fiction, drama, or creative non-fiction.
Turning a spontaneous rant, a rambling journal entry or a masturbation fantasy into a coherent piece of writing makes it more comprehensible to others. It’s the beginning of a conversation. And a conversation that includes enough participants can change a culture.
In the November newsletter of Circlet Press, writer and publisher Cecilia Tan defended what she does so brilliantly (IMO) that I can’t resist quoting part of her editorial:
“It was a tough night here at Circlet HQ as the election results rolled in and I probably don’t have to tell you why–but I will. This wasn’t about Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump for us. This was about the fact that the Trump campaign and the Republican platform are serious threats to our existence as marginalized people. Gay, lesbian, trans, bi, gender non-conforming, minorities in sexual identity of every kind, including survivors of sexual assault (and not to mention women and people of color in general) are all seen as less than human by the Trump camp. Literally.
So I thought it might be a good time to remind you all what Circlet Press stands for, and why even in the face of a difficult uphill battle, we’re not giving up, and why even in the face of massive global upheaval, erotic fiction still matters.
1. Writing matters. All writing is a declaration of humanity.
The act of writing is self-expression in a declarative form. Whenever we make words, even if they are tweets, at the most basic level we are saying “I am here!” Unlike vocal speech, writing is a deliberate act, one that combines cognition with communication–with intent to communicate to an imagined other who is not present. It’s a powerful act whether one is writing a personal blog, an article, a story, a letter, or even a diary entry. It might feel right now like putting down words doesn’t matter. But it does. It does because you matter, your voice matters, your personhood matters.
2. Erotica is a claiming of sexual identity.
The extension of the fact that writing matters is that writing about sex matters in particular. Not only do we write “I am here!” but “I am queer!” (or whatever flavor of non-standardized sexuality or sexual identity you declare) No matter what your sexuality is–even if it’s vanilla heterosexual–society has judged you for it and wants to tell you how you can or should do it. If you cannot be yourself in your private thoughts, you cannot be yourself anywhere. In our sexual fantasies is where some of us first discover our true selves, and then through that act of putting down words, of putting that fantasy to paper as if communicating with another sentience, we express that truth. There are those out there who literally wish death on us for being queer or sinners or ‘liberated women.’ Declaring our existence as sexual minorities and celebrating our sexuality with joy through erotica is an act of courage and an act of self-preservation, too. The more we are seen, the better we are known, the more space on the stage we take up, the more difficult it is to marginalize us. “
There you have it. The whole editorial is much longer than this, and it was intended for wide circulation. You can read it here:
by Kathleen Bradean
Apologies in advance to non-US readers for the nation-centric post. Insert your own national holiday.
It sounded like a nice idea. Have a bunch of friends and family over. Eat a ton of food. Sit around the fire and tell ourselves a feel-good myth about our origins…
And then it happened.
Oysters in the stuffing.
Oops. I should have posed a trigger warning. I can envision you recoiled in horror at the very idea of oysters inside your bird. I mean, awful, right? Don’t get me wrong. I love oysters. Fresh and briny, or cooked with spinach and bread crumbs, or even Acme Oyster House’s woodfire grilled oysters topped with Parmesan cheese (note to self – get back to New Orleans ASAP), but NOT in stuffing.
Maybe you’re thinking, “That sounds kind of good,” or “I shall toss a virtual gauntlet at her for insulting great aunt Mildred’s famous oyster dressing!” or perhaps “I’ve had worse. Apples. Chestnuts. Craisins, for the love of god!” And you’d be right. And wrong. Heck, even I’m wrong for being anti-oyster stuffing. (Not really, but I’m playing my own Devil’s advocate) Because what you’re eating isn’t just stuffing. It’s never just stuffing. It’s a forkful of the past. Your past. And no matter if it’s oysters or apples or chestnuts, what you really taste is memories.
Thanksgiving isn’t just the bird, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. It’s so many side dishes and desserts. Some are regional favorites; some reflect our ethic background. Others were created by a home economist in the 1940s for the war effort or for a brand, printed in a magazine ad, and recreated faithfully every year since. (Green bean casserole, I’m looking at you.) It’s a complex amalgamation of who we were, who we are, and who we desire to be.
You may be wondering what this has to do with writing. It has a lot, actually. Since I’m the main cook, to me, Thanksgiving is a day centered on the kitchen. It’s a constant game of Tetris – trying to get the food to fit in the fridge as well as trying to bend time to my will so all these disparate dishes come together at the same time. To my sister-in-law, the day centers around the family room and making sure guests are having a good time. For the kids, the day is about finding out that yes, their cousin Perry really is a jerk who would lock the four-year old in a dark closet in the basement and leave her there until much later when someone else notices she’s missing. (true story). There are as many points of view on what happens that day as there are people sitting around the dining table, and just because I see it as an oyster-free stuffing day doesn’t mean that those who ate the oyster stuffing see it incorrectly. Sometimes, conflict comes from equally valid points of view. That doesn’t mean there has to be a hero and a villain. There just has to be oysters, and those who have the good sense to leave them out of the bird.