Friday, March 21, 2008

Rusty Barnes Talks about Writing, Sex and Food

Earlier this year, I reviewed Rusty Barnes’ flash fiction collection Breaking It Down, which I likened to an exquisite Japanese Buddhist meal with its a tray of tiny dishes, each serving up a tidbit of austere, perfectly-crafted, and ultimately enlightening fare. Today, I’ve asked Rusty to stop by to answer a few questions about writing, sex and food—in that order--with a special Japanese treat waiting for you at the end. Please note that Rusty is sporting a ‘Redneck Express Trucking’ cap in his author photo which is very much in keeping with the themes of his book.

How is writing flash for you different from writing a longer story?

It's honestly no different, for me. I begin all my stories by writing a flash, pretty much. I get some characters, I develop a scene, I see how they react, and if the story plays out after 500 or 1000 or 1500 words, I call it a flash, polish it and send it out. If I sense the story needs more development—or if I want to develop it—I do so, usually in short sessions of an hour or two at a time (that's all the time I get in a day to write). Even my longer stories tend to be short. I don't think I've written a story of more than 5000 words in ten years. The long ones are just too difficult to publish. I have nine or ten older long ones that have been through the rejection mill. I assume, since much of my material from that time was eventually published, that it's more a factor of their considerable, um, girth, that they're not published.

How has your experience as editor (and founder) of Night Train changed what you do as a writer?

It's changed me tremendously. I no longer dick around in stories setting a scene or trying a more lyrical approach, for example. While that's fine for many writers—I like a lyrical, slower approach sometimes, too—I find that I have little patience for stories that don't get started quickly. As well, I have read so many stories by now that I think—think being the key word here—less and less about whether I'm good enough as a writer, as I used to, and more about what I'm trying to do in a particular story or poem. It's given me a sense of place. There's nothing like a litmag for judging your own work. If you see what's out there being submitted, some of it truly excellent and breathtaking, but equally as much vomitous and awful, you can judge for yourself where your work falls in that range, and can sense much more accurately what you have to work on.

How much of Breaking It Down is “autobiographical” in spirit, if not fact?

It's all autobiographical in spirit. Completely, unequivocally. I have felt all these emotions.

As for the actual facts of the stories, yes, of course, all true. I have been a child who lost his sister, a Harley-riding punk expecting his first child, a woman trying to heal her husband with sex, a woman sleeping with her young brother-in-law, and perhaps especially, considering your blog, a veteran cocksman of many a ménage a trois and swinger's event.

Shape-shifting does come in handy for a writer! Many of the stories in your collection deal with sexuality and its consequences. Was it easy or hard to write the sex scenes? What role does sex play in your stories in contrast to the classic agenda of erotica? (Which I’ll define here as to arouse as well as reveal character—the role of porn is simply to arouse).

The sex comes, pardon the expression, pretty easily for me. I mean, there's the point-A into slot-B notion of sex in stories (nearly a must for contemporary stories with any grit), and there's what I try to do, which is to say what happens, how it happens, and to reveal what details seem most germane to the characters. In 'No One Left to Care About the Fat Man,' from SmokeLong Quarterly, the narrator's wife shaves her pubes. Nothing remarkable about that, and in the moment of writing, I had no intent of anything symbolic, I was simply trying to show the wife's desperation and the husband's complete inability to relate, but I realized later there's probably something deeper going on. She's laid herself bare, her most intimate parts, brain excluded, and he's rejected her. But to actually answer your question, I don't see much difference between erotica and litfic, except that one arouses while revealing character, and one doesn't, generally, but each can do the same thing for the other, given the right circumstances, if that makes sense.

It makes a lot of sense, we’re definitely on the same page there. Now, tell me about the process of arranging the stories in Breaking It Down. Were you trying to achieve a particular effect or experience for the reader?

I meant to keep my favorite stories at the beginning and end, selfishly, and to achieve something like a wave theory: a big wave comes in, maybe a couple smaller ones, another big one, maybe three smaller, then a big one, all having different impact, but all of them getting you wet, too.

“Wet”? You know, Rusty, we really do have a lot in common, but on to the signature questions here at Sex, Food, and Writing. Describe your dream writing project (marketability doesn’t matter here)—and what is next for you as a writer?

In a perfect world, I'd take the first three months of the year to write a novel draft, a month or so for poems exclusively, and whatever I felt like the remainder of the time, editing and writing as I saw fit, which is pretty much the life I have now, minus the novel. ;-)

To wrap things up, I’d like to pose two questions that I’ll ask all authors I interview on my blog. The first asks for a little background on the inspiration for an image or scene in your work. One of the most memorable images in Breaking It Down for me—one that will change my view of erections forever—is from your wonderful opening story “What Needs to Be Done.” A woman is having a literal roll in the hay with her nineteen-year-old brother-in-law:
“Purl had laid the blanket out already, wisps of hay stuck to his hairless chest. As I loosened his jeans, it wagged at me like a finger, an accusation I could never answer to anyone’s satisfaction but my own.”

So, how did you come up with this remarkable image?

I have no idea. I put my fingers to the keys, it came out. I wish I had a mystical explanation. I will say that's one of the few images I used that I knew instinctively was exactly right.

Finally, describe a perfect meal that would be guaranteed to seduce you—at least into an intimate discussion of the writing life by candlelight, if you have other commitments that don’t allow for more!

The perfect meal, if I'm feeling remotely cultured: sushi, sashimi, a full bottle of Bombay Sapphire, a plentiful supply of limes and tonic. There's something so erotic about the proximity of fingers and mouths and slippery fishies, the hot towels, an inattentive wait staff—many things become possible, given those circumstances. On the other hand, a good band and some cheap beer, liberally applied, with a plate of cheese and bacon fries with ranch dressing would work just as well. Fuck the calories.

The inattentive wait staff is definitely key—especially if you’re in one of those private tatami rooms. Thanks so much for stopping by, Rusty. It was a pleasure chatting with you and best of luck with your new novel.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Seduction of Words: An Interview with EllaRegina

Everyone told me that MySpace was the place to be to promote my novel, but an unexpected benefit has been the chance to connect with other erotica writers, many whose work I've long admired and some who are emerging talents in the field. EllaRegina was one of the first new erotica-writing friends I made on MySpace. I was immediately intrigued by her photo—a ghostly white Washington Square Arch wrapped in apocalyptic gloom. It wasn't until I got my contributor's copies of Best Women's Erotica 2008 that I understood the connection. EllaRegina's fabulous, and I mean fabulous, story, "The Lonely Onanista," is about a woman who lives inside the Washington Square Arch as part of the interior décor project she's been hired to complete for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Her commission: to wallpaper the vertical surfaces in dollar bills and pave the floor with quarters, edge to edge. So, New Yorkers, if you were wondering where your government was spending your tax dollars... When the Lonely Onanista isn't busy wallpapering, she entertains Park Rangers and one particularly special visitor, but hey, I'm not going to give anything else away—you have to read it. And when you do, you'll thank me for introducing you to one of the most exciting new voices in erotic fiction.

It's not just Park Rangers—everyone really does love "The Lonely Onanista." The story is in the Best-of-Craigslist archive, earned a coveted nod from Violet Blue for her best-selling anthology, was featured on Clean Sheets and now has been declared a finalist for the prestigious Rauxa Prize. I've asked EllaRegina to stop by and answer a few questions about her super-hot story.

"The Lonely Onanista" was originally part of a series of personal ads in Craigslist's Casual Encounters. Could you talk about that?

Wow! Thanks for that lovely introduction. I'm virtually blushing. Your description of the MySpace photograph is uncanny—I am ghostly white and wrapped in apocalyptic gloom!

"The Lonely Onanista" began life as the ninth of eleven pieces posted anonymously on Craigslist over a six-month period: Lonely Onanista Living in National Monument Seeks Assistance - w4m. I like to imagine the protagonist as forever inhabiting the cybersphere of their Best-of archive, masturbating (among other things) in perpetuity.

The project started as a kind of personal dare—a challenge. Violet Blue dubbed it "guerrilla erotica" in her initial e-mail to me, a pretty accurate interpretation. The endeavor was part sexual exploration and part seduction experiment combining my erotic imagination with the written word. It was one wild ride. For months I was completely consumed—either writing (and editing and re-editing and re-editing), posting, or dealing with replies. It was exciting, exhilarating and unpredictable. There was instant gratification, which one does not get with conventional (print) publishing, the possibility of receiving immediate reader feedback and the opportunity to respond. It was often titillating.

Initially, the posts were composed as proper ads, then morphed into "vignettes" and ultimately became full-fledged stories. By the fifth ad I incorporated "illustrations" placed beneath the text. Inserted as visual clues, they referred to items described in a story and were arranged in order of their subjects' appearance within the tale. I was inspired by André Breton's Surrealist novel Nadja, which similarly presents object portraits—a rebus keyed to the narrative. As this undertaking was wholly Internet-driven, I limited source material to images found online through Google searches, which I sometimes altered in Photoshop. To my knowledge, these were uncredited photographs of items from product catalogs, and so on, or are in the public domain.

Here, the pictures comprised a sepia-toned 1950s view of the Washington Square Arch; a George Washington quarter dollar heads- and tails-up; a white metal cot with blue-sheeted mattress jutting out from a dark concrete corner; and a pale pink linen "O"-monogrammed handkerchief.

The images were arranged like this:

What was your inspiration for the story?

One day I noticed a little door on the Washington Square Arch, wondered where it led and who had access to whatever lay beyond that lilliputian portal. A staircase and attic space do exist, features unknown to me when I wrote the story. (Marcel Duchamp staged a rebel performance piece atop the monument in 1917—illicitly camping there with a group of artists and actors, declaring Greenwich Village an independent nation—a riotous incident I knew nothing of until a Craigslist reader thought the male character's beret was my sly homage to that famous French Dada/Surrealist artist/chess player. Funny, the things you learn about your own work from other people).

The actual seed for the tale sprouted during a playful e-mail repartee I was enjoying with a particular bachelor on an Internet dating website. He was asking where I lived—was it in this or that place, all of them funny and unlikely locales, growing exponentially more implausible as his guessing game continued—and, being in an especially improvisational no-holds-barred mood, I replied:

"No, actually, I live in the Washington Square Arch, in a little spartan room at the top. There are no windows so it's a bit tomblike and claustrophobic but on the rare occasion that I need oxygen I seek the great outdoors. I egress and enter through a secret opening in George Washington's left jacket pocket, something not patently obvious to the unwitting onlooker."

As you can see, that is the opening paragraph, almost word-for-word. It was truly a proverbial lightbulb-over-head moment and the story just erupted from there. Unfortunately, the bachelor in question inexplicably dropped off the grid several e-mails later. I guess he found my living arrangements off-putting.

Finally, this piece was essentially a love letter to a specific man—one of several "beta-testers" reading these works as I wrote them—and the thought of him propelled my typing fingers.

What sort of feedback did you get there?

In its tenure as a Casual Encounters ad Lonely Onanista Living in National Monument Seeks Assistance - w4m received 157 responses. Like all e-mail replies this project elicited—a total of 1910, to be exact—the range was wide: from the good, the bad to the very ugly. Some were hostile: "See a DR and get some RX PLZ." Homophobic e-mails troubled me the most. For whatever reason, there are male Casual Encounters readers who think women posting in the "w4m" category aren't genuine vagina-owners. A photograph or telephone call was requested of me now and then to prove my alleged gender. Once I quelled a man's doubts by volunteering that my period was due in three days. There is infinite madness and hatred out there. It stunned and depressed me.

Some men read this post as my sexual fantasy and were very sweet and eager to help me fulfill it. There were quite literal interpreters: many requests for the map with its key location. One reader divulged that he was even wearing corduroy (the Arch visitor's trouser fabric); another would bring the beret. I was promised Champagne, pizza and unimaginable levels of pleasure...

Eventually I realized, especially after getting e-mails from men in places as far-flung as London, that Casual Encounters is trolled, not necessarily for NSA [No-Strings-Attached] liaisons, but for arousing reading material. In the string department I'm practically a marionette factory so this was fine with me. With the scenario then shifted towards a more literary direction, I found myself cast as the Mother Theresa of Casual Encounters—scribe variant—providing selfless public service to those in need of sexual release; ultimately, all that mattered was the power of words.

Readers who saw the piece exclusively as a work of fiction thanked me for the erections it produced:

"I've never had more nut on my hands from just reading an erotic essay."

My favorite feedback for this ad: "It put wet my cock."

There were compliments; flattering artistic comparisons—Kurt Vonnegut, if he wrote Penthouse Forum letters, for example; a funny counterpoint e-mail "from the Eiffel Tower." I was sent lengthy erotica—some inspired by mine (one continued where my story left off, "exquisite corpse"-style)—and erotic drawings, in reciprocation. Several "commercial propositions" were relayed.

In the midst of my Craigslist activity a reader told me about other people posting stories: one woman, with a certain following, clued her "audience" in (literally) to new ads via a designated word consistently embedded within every text, so that a keyword search turned up her latest offering. In November The New York Times reported on a related phenom, and its unofficial Craigslist blessing. Jim Buckmaster, their CEO, said "If you haven't established an audience, you can do worse than Craigslist." Given the trajectory of my erotica writing career so far—considering it was jump-started by a short experimental Casual Encounters ad, placed as a dare to myself—I would tend to agree. If I lived in the Bay Area I would buy Messrs. Buckmaster and [Craig] Newmark a few rounds of drinks. What monuments do you have there? Ah, the Coit Tower! Hmmn. All that's missing is "us."

The story has so many wonderful, surprising details. Some I'll never forget: the thin cotton handkerchiefs the narrator must place between her body and her fingers when she pleasures herself; the condom full of quarters her favorite Park Ranger leaves in her posterior orifice as a souvenir; the dozens of George Washington's eyes on the dollar bills watching the lovers at their pleasure. Can you give us some background on one or all of these delicious images?

Well, they say "write what you know!" And what I don't know I can very vividly imagine.

I do happen to have a vintage thin cotton handkerchief in my possession, a bygone birthday present. It even has my initial on it!

I put quarters in my wallet but they could lodge inside a condom placed within one's posterior—why not?—and be safe sex besides. Also, it's "Green"! There must be mountains of discarded lifeless plastic vibrators in "waste management" areas everywhere. Now that won't help us with global warming!

Dollar bills (and quarters) contain portraits of George Washington—logical ornamental motifs for the story's "interior décor project." French toile de Jouy wallpaper scenes bearing silhouetted women in long black coats walking poodles through Washington Square à la Henry James would not have worked in this story. The moving eyes are clearly the result of too many hours spent watching cartoons and "Addams Family" re-runs: "the walls have ears"—eyes in this case; voyeurism greatly interests me, although this tale isn't told from President Washington's point of view. I'm not much of an historian.

Do you really live inside the Washington Square Arch? What do you think of people who assume your writing is autobiographical?

I do not. But a number of Craigslist responders genuinely believed I did. One was amazed I had wireless Internet service! Another pondered how I managed to post the ad, being "cooped up" in there.

Regarding autobiographical writing, this series was tricky because I did, after all, first present these stories as ads on Craigslist, as myself—in some shape or form—so it might make sense for readers of those writings (viewing them online in Casual Encounters), to assume they were autobiographical, but not all did. Best Women's Erotica 2008 provides a different context for the story—and perhaps those readers are less inclined to make such an assumption. However, I think writers of erotic works are regularly faced with this issue—it's often taken for granted that their stories are based on personal experience, which surely isn't a supposition made with writers of other genres. Yet, speculation frequently occurs even with "regular" writers—that fiction is based on things which really happened; and conversely and paradoxically, that memoiristic works contain invented parts...

I know you write literary fiction and have done work in the visual arts. How is writing erotica a different experience for you?

The key ingredient fueling whatever I do is my imagination, which is overactive. And, regardless of media, the same tools are at my disposal: an eye for detail; my peculiar brand of humor, irreverence and sarcasm; a disregard for keeping my crayon within the lines, so to speak; meticulousness and a sense of self-discipline bordering on the Fascistic. With erotica writing another factor comes into play: my erotic imagination; my own fantasies and arousal can become part of the writing process itself—one feeding the other in a sort of hypno-erotic Moebius strip—a distraction, albeit pleasant. This was especially true of the Craigslist posts.

Describe your dream writing project (marketability doesn't matter here)—and what is next for you as a writer?

This covers both questions:

Two book proposals based on my Craigslist adventure—polar opposites as far as concept and execution. I'd like to do either; it would indeed be a dream to see both to fruition. One has potential legal obstacles that may prevent its optimum realization.

About a dozen stories (or scraps thereof), erotic and otherwise, are cooking on the back burner (I have a very large stove).

An idea for an erotica anthology—my first venture as an editor—which I have not formally proposed to anyone. I find its premise and theme exciting and interesting—I'm hoping there is a publisher who agrees with me.

Name a writer (or two, living or dead) you'd like to have dinner with...

(I'm expanding your question beyond writers exclusively. I hope you don't mind.)

An intime soirée mixing the following improbable guest assortment:

Dorothy Parker, though neither of us would get a word in edgewise.

John Lennon, definitely the most fun. Bonus: post-prandial singing!

The Marquis de Sade, but with the request that he leave his sewing kit at home.

Curious George would be the ideal dining partner since we probably share compatible eating habits but, should the meal lead to "more," there's that pesky bestiality issue, and the fact that he's too young for me—pedophilia alert!—(though technically, at 67, too old for me), too hairy and uncircumcised—pet peeves, both.

Someone you'd most like to trade talents with...

A test pilot.

One you'd most like to invite inside the Washington Square Arch to re-enact the scene from "The Lonely Onanista"?...

Henry Miller would know what to do with me. Or Man Ray. Perhaps they'd come together.

Finally, describe a perfect meal that would be guaranteed to seduce you—at least into an intimate discussion of the writing life by candlelight, if not a re-enactment of the climax of "The Lonely Onanista." (Although I'm sure you'd have a few chefs willing to put out in hope of that reward!)

Veuve Cliquot Champagne would be the libation of choice. I don't eat very much—remember, I just wrote a story about a woman who subsists on Balance Bars, Park Rangers' semen and falafel. A formal menu with real food would likely involve grilled wild salmon and vegetables. I suppose that's not very exciting for a food specialist such as yourself. Aphrodisiacs such as oysters and caviar are not on the list of comestibles—I eat neither. My "Happy Meal" is an atypical one but perhaps the ideal candidate to prepare it is waiting in your imagined chef line-up. He can e-mail me a sample menu. I've always had a thing for those toques and checkered pants. If nothing else we could have a costume party.

Thanks for chatting with me, EllaRegina, and best of luck with your new projects.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Don Capone Talks About Sex, Food and Writing

A few weeks ago, I posted my review of Don Capone’s engaging comic novel Into the Sunset. Ever curious about the experiences of other writers, I invited Don to talk about about his creative process, confess his secrets to writing sex scenes and of course, most mouthwatering of all, provide a detailed menu for his favorite dinner of seduction.

I know you design children’s novelty books. How has your experience as a book designer influenced what you do as a writer?

Not much really, they are such different animals. One thing I do like to do while I'm working on a novel, though, is to design a cover for it. This gets me pumped up, makes it seem more real to me, like the book might actually exist in printed form one day. (Side note: I designed the cover of Into the Sunset.) Another thing that book design has taught me is that you really can judge a book by its cover. You can usually tell the book's genre immediately, right? But not only that—also the budget or size of the publishing company. Cheap books look cheap. This is one reason, I think, why self-publishing got off on the wrong foot. They just looked self-published. Even if the inside contained a masterpiece.

How much of Into the Sunset is “autobiographical” in spirit, if not fact? Did you do any hands-on research at retirement communities to get material?

I brought my mother to look at a bunch of these type of places, and that's where I got my idea from. Just like my lead character, Wayne, I was more enamored of the communities than my mother was. So that part was real, I think, something that appealed to me—living in a brand-new place with all these great amenities. Once I had my character there, things had to eventually go wrong, of course. That's where my imagination took over.

One place my mother and I looked at said they provided the toilet paper and light bulbs so the residents wouldn't have to worry about those things. I put that in the novel, but took it a step further by imagining the toilet paper would probably be the cheapest, one-ply available, and the resulting black market for "the good stuff" that would arise within the community because of that fact.

Your protagonist, Wayne, thinks about sex a lot—as do we all of course—and it certainly kept me turning the pages! Was it easy or hard to write the sex scenes? Do you have any tips for other authors writing sex?

The best way to write sex scenes is to just pretend that no one will ever read them. Let loose. Free yourself to write whatever you want. But, like all writing, stay away from the cliches. And just using a dirty word isn't sexy—the context that it is used is. I had to keep a comedic element to my scenes, which I think may have made it easier to write because I wasn't taking myself seriously.

I know a few readers of Into the Sunset have described the romantic relationship between a thirty-year old man and a sixty-something woman as “disturbing.” I didn’t find that to be the case at all, but did you feel you were tackling serious taboos as you wrote the novel? Did your attitude toward growing old change?

The character of Wayne himself struggles with the idea of being attracted to a much older woman. It is just so far off of his usual radar, that he wonders if something is wrong with him. But, really, what's the difference between a 60 year-old Rod Stewart dating a woman half his age (or less), and my young male character dating an older woman? Why is one acceptable and one isn't? What's so "disturbing" about it? (I actually had that comment from an agent.) I don't think I tackled a taboo, because I guess it's been done before. Anyway, that wasn't the goal of the book when I set out to write it. It just happened because it fit so naturally into the story.

I don't know if my attitude toward aging changed, but my character of Wayne definitely grows to appreciate elderly people as individual people, with histories, and wants and needs just like younger people. I think I already knew that.

Describe the writing project of your dreams (marketability doesn’t matter here)—and what is next for you as a writer?

I'd love to write an episode for "The Simpsons." Other than that, I think the best gig you can get is to write the novels you want to write, and have someone pay you to do it. And people who want to read the books, of course.

Next up I have a completed novel, Just Follow Me, for which I am now seeking an agent. It takes place in Manhattan the weekend leading up to John Lennon's murder. I am also starting on the third draft of another novel, which is very commercial in nature. I don't want to say more than that, though, because the idea is very hot and I don't want it to get ripped off.

One of my favorite erotic scenes in Into the Sunset is when Wayne and Eleanor get into his “new” car, a clunker with broken air-conditioning, for their first real date outside of the retirement community. I posted this in my review but I’ll quote it here again because it always brightens the day to read a good sex scene:

“She swept her long hair up into a bun on top of her head and pinned it tight. One long strand escaped, and my eyes followed it down the nape of her neck to her bare shoulder. Her neck was soft and white and vulnerable. Her ear looked delicious. I wanted to put whip cream on it and lick it off. I considered inviting her to try out the backseat like a couple of randy teenagers. I’d get on top and slide her dress up and remove her panties with my teeth. Or she could be on top and I would cup her breasts after freeing them from the cotton and lycra that imprisoned them. Between the hot vinyl seats, the blaring August sun, and the heat generated by our naked thrusting bodies, the Corolla would be as hot and humid as a Costa Rican rain forest. We would create our own little green-house effect. Mushrooms would sprout from the carpet. The windows would fog as the car rocked back and forth, straining its old suspension system. Afterward, a sudden thunderstorm within the interior of the car would cool our steaming naked bodies, as we lay there spent.”

So, what’s the artistic bio of this very steamy scene?

Ha! That scene is total imagination. I never created a rain forest in the back seat of my car, and until I wrote it, I never even had that fantasy. I was going for total exaggerated silliness there, to show how far gone my character is regarding his fantasy life. It also shows his immaturity, since he's still having these back seat fantasies though he is no longer a "randy teenager." Also, he has such an active fantasy life, that even though he is with a real, live woman, he still slips into fantasy mode. Reading that excerpt now I notice that the dirtiest word I used was "breast."

Name a writer (or two, living or dead) you’d like to have dinner with, one you’d most like to trade talents with, one with whom you’d most like to try out positions from the Kama Sutra, as Wayne and Eleanor did in Into the Sunset?

I'd much rather have dinner with a living writer, because I think it would be a much livelier conversation. (Insert rim shot sound effect here.) Seriously, I guess the expected answer would be one of the all-time greats—Hemingway, Dickens, Vonnegut, etc., as if you'd be able to learn their secrets. Or one of my favorites, like T.C. Boyle or John Irving. But I think I'd have to go with Stephen King. I just think he'd be friendlier and more receptive. Plus, besides writing, we could talk about rock n' roll and baseball. I can also picture him just hanging out all night, shooting the shit. (Side note here: I've been to a bunch of Boyle's readings/signings, and he is very fan-friendly. Plus he's originally from Westchester County, too—about 45 minutes north of me. So he's a close second.)

Who would I trade talents with? Probably John Irving. And he'd be able to get a lot more out of my talent than I can!

Hmmm...I think I'll pass on the Kama Sutra question!

Finally, describe a perfect meal that would be guaranteed to seduce you—at least into an intimate discussion of the writing life by candlelight, if you have other commitments that don’t allow for more!

A home-cooked meal would be a good start. Something with chicken and/or artichokes would be nice. Some red wine—but not too much, it makes me sleepy. A pot of fresh ground coffee afterward. I want to stay awake for the "writing life" conversation, which would include more showing than telling, for sure. Active voice over passive. Dangling participles. Bare infinitives. Affect versus effect. Maybe some euphemisms. Motivation. The proper story arc. And of course, everything would have to come to its inevitable ending. Wait, what are we talking about?

Words of wisdom for every writer to live by.... Thanks so much for chatting with me, Don and best of luck with your new projects.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Creme de Menthe Blow Jobs and Other March Goodies

Check out my March column at the Erotica Readers and Writers' Association--Never Trust the Narrator: Honest Lies, Soul-Stirring Soups and Creme de Menthe Blow Jobs. In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, I talk a bit about blarney and offer a warming late winter menu of soup, homemade brown bread and a very special green dessert guaranteed to put a smile on the face of your favorite leprechaun lad.