Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Steamy Podcast of Amorous Woman

It’s here--what you’ve all been waiting for! My podcast of a very steamy excerpt from Amorous Woman is up on my Web site (along with a few other updates). Now you can hear Lydia speak, whispering her naughty secrets in your ear, just as she did to me two summers ago when I wrote down her story.

Come on, don’t you want to hear me talk dirty in Japanese?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mad-Libs Results

The results are in! Eleven mad-libbers over at Lust Bites took on the challenge of rewriting my love hotel passage from Amorous Woman, and I have to say the results are brilliant.

Here’s the blank passage:

"Yes, Miss Evans," he'd sigh as I [VERB (PAST TENSE)] him. Thoroughly converted to the path of [NOUN]-[GERUND] [NOUN], he'd [VERB] and [VERB] me with his [BODY PART] under my [ADJECTIVE] [NOUN], until his [BODY PART] was as [ADJECTIVE] as a [COMESTIBLE (ADJECTIVE + NOUN)].

Here are the clever revisions:

Jeremy Edwards: "Yes, Miss Evans," he'd sigh as I avoided him. Thoroughly converted to the path of mind-broadening travel, he'd see and hear me with his foot under my blue blanket, until his shoulder was as deep as a hot brandy.

Janine Ashbless: "Yes, Miss Evans," he'd sigh as I passed him. Thoroughly converted to the path of butt-naked gardening, he'd turn and root me with his long-handled fork under my automated sprinkler, until his shaft was as purple as a prize-winning beetroot.

Ashley Lister: "Yes, Miss Evans," he'd sigh as I edited him. Thoroughly converted to the path of proofreading copy, he'd rewrite and correct me with his fingernail under my purple prose, until his finger was as red as a cochineal sandwich.

Madame Butterfly: “Yes, Miss Evans,” he’d sigh as I sprayed him. Thoroughly converted to the path of binge-drinking people, he’d lash and fan me with his finger under my bodacious lampshade, until his head was as lusty as a doughy bagel.

Kirsten Monroe: "Yes, Miss Evans," he'd sigh as I sparkled him. Thoroughly converted to the path of hair-parting games, he'd pillage and wrestle me with his left nipple under my fluffy merengue, until his cleft chin was as berserk as a fiery comet.

Neve Black: "Yes, Miss Evans," he'd sigh as I choked him,. Thoroughly converted to the path of vanilla-flavored sex,, he'd spank and tickle me with his toes under my cherry umbrella, until his cock was as rigid as ripe bamboo.

EllaRegina: "Yes, Miss Evans," he'd sigh as I hand-blocked him. Thoroughly converted to the path of hat-fondling study, he'd press and iron me with his tonsil under my curly steamer, until his elbow was as limber as a thinly-sliced bologna sandwich.

Kristina Lloyd: "Yes, Miss Evans," he'd sigh as I gerunded him. Thoroughly converted to the path of logic-fucking grammar, he'd comma and comma me with his chomsky under my split infinitive, until his colon was as semi as a dangling modifier.

Dennis Mahagin: "Yes, Miss Evans," he'd admit as I passed him. Thoroughly converted to the path of Hotwheel Racing, he'd squeal and tailgate me, with his fingers under my Grand Prix Boot, until his Hotwheel Car was as blistering as a lit Trader Vics Matchbox.

Emerald: "Yes, Miss Evans," he'd sigh as I dusted him. Thoroughly converted to the path of bicycle-promoting umbrellas, he'd battle and jump me with his elbow under my fringed cape until his cheek was as glittery as a strawberry-shaped clown hat.

Maryanne Stahl: "Yes, Miss Evans," he'd sigh as I basted him. Thoroughly converted to the path of egg-beating goddesses, he'd somersault and poke me with his spatula under my knee until his belly button was as fiery as a dynamite-filled croissant.

And here is the original, which, I now see is in fact sadly lacking in originality! Dynamite-filled croissants, strawberry-shaped clown hats, thinly-sliced bologna sandwiches, doughy bagels, not to mention dangling modifiers…I’m getting hungry. But first, the original passage:

“Yes, Miss Evans,” he’d sigh as I straddled him. Thoroughly converted to the path of teacher-pleasing diligence, he’d lick and strum me with his tongue under my careful direction, until his face was as slick as a glazed doughnut.

Glazed doughnuts? Well, maybe that part will do. I’m off to the doughnut shop, but thanks to all who joined in the fun!

A Great Web Site: Geisha turns 25

Liza Dalby's Geisha is quite simply one of my very favorite books ever. I'm sure it tops the list of many a Japan lover and has enchanted plenty of other readers who enjoy a glimpse into the secret world of another culture. The geisha has become a symbol of all that is mysterious and alluring about Japan, but few of us know what a geisha really does and who she is. I remember so well when I first read--or rather devoured--the book back in 1985 right after I returned from my first stay in Japan. I'd lived in Kyoto for two years and studied Japanese traditional dance, but the world of the geisha was as mysterious to me as ever (and as it is to most Japanese).

But thanks to Liza Dalby, I finally was able to slip into the teahouses of Pontocho to experience the day-to-day life of real geisha. A skilled shamisen player who is fluent in Japanese, Liza actually worked as a geisha as part of her research for her Ph.D. in anthropology at Stanford, and the book does indeed provide an excellent and entertaining education about that world. First and foremost, I learned that geisha are complex and compelling human beings and artists, so much more than the fantasies Westerners entertain about them.

Originally published in 1983, then given a second life with the publication of Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha, Liza Dalby's beloved classic turns twenty-five this year and is being reissued with a lovely new cover and preface which "examines how geisha have been profoundly affected by the changes of the past quarter century yet—especially in Kyoto—have managed to take advantage of modern developments to maintain their social position with flair." Liza has also updated her Web site on geisha and it's a tasty buffet of information, with plenty of delicious photographs and fascinating insights into geisha and courtesans and Japanese culture. Sex and geisha, pictures of Liza in full geisha dress as "Ichigiku,"stages in the life of a geisha, the importance of the seasons--it's all there--but I have to issue a warning. You may find yourself spending the whole afternoon there!

If you've ever been intrigued by Japan's traditional culture, I recommend you take a look!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bon Appetit: My Favorite Restaurants in Berkeley

I haven't done a food post in a long time, so I thought I'd share my list of my favorite restaurants in the Berkeley area. I’m “mostly” vegetarian and all of these places have at least some selection of veggie entrees. If you live in the East Bay, let me know if you have any good places to add to the list. There are lots more, I know, and I'm always interested in trying new places! If you plan to visit, you can’t go wrong with any of these restaurants. Just be sure to invite me along.


Ajanta at 1888 Solano Avenue

Elegant Indian cuisine with subtle sauces. The menu changes monthly and it’s always good. Lots of choices for vegetarians. I love the cashew naan and silky kofta entrees. Tandoori asparagus is nice, too.

Breads of India at 2448 Sacramento Street in Berkeley or 948 Clay Street in Oakland

Appropriately, the breads are exquisite! The portions are large though, so I usually bring my own containers for leftovers, especially if you get the sampler platter.

Café Raj at 1158 Solano

More down-home Indian fare than Ajanta, the portions are large, but if you order take-out, check your order carefully. They often get it wrong. The papadam are as large as platters. Somehow this feels like a dinner at your Indian grandma’s.

Udupi Palace at 1901 University (cross MLK)

South Indian vegetarian cuisine with low prices and large servings. My husband and I split a Mini Thali, which is a sampler of lots of dishes in small silver bowls on a tray, and order extra bread, but the dosai crepes and curries are also great.


Picante at 1328 Sixth Street

Started by Chez Panisse graduates (what restaurant in Berkeley isn’t?) this is fast food at its very best. You order at the counter and they bring it to your table. Guacamole is great as are the tacos, platos and chicken soup. You can have brunch here, too. Family friendly.

Juan’s at 941 Carleton Street

A classic Mexican restaurant without a hint of foodie pretension, it’s tasty and filling. I like the cheese enchiladas with green sauce, but the mole is good, too.

Tacubaya at 1788 Fourth Street (near The Pasta Shop)

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you order at a counter but the food is sit-down good. I really enjoyed the quesadillas de verdures filled with onions, kabocha squash and topped with salsa and pomegranate seeds.

Taqueria Talavera at 1881 Solano

Counter service, but the food is definitely worth going for. Hours can be arbitrary though.


Norikonoko at 2556 Telegraph (in the same complex as Fondue Fred’s)

A very authentic mom-and-pop place, if a bit more expensive than some other restaurants. The noodles, curry and grilled foods are delicious and they serve special Japanese New Year’s dishes during the first few days of the year. A meal here really is like a short trip to Japan.

Ochame at 1830 Fourth Street

California-style Japanese, but the steamed rice is the best anywhere and the noodles are special, buckwheat soba or white flour udon topped with roasted oysters, smoked trout, or tofu skins and spinach. The salmon carry-out bento are wonderful.

Tachibana at 5812 College (near the bread store)

A good place to go for sushi or a small-dishes meal. Order a bunch of sides and share them, Japanese style. We like the tofu (either yudofu or age-dashi tofu) anything form the robata grill and the ume-shiso sushi.

Suzu (in San Francisco’s Japantown) at 1581 Webster in the mall near Post

Just thought I’d add this because it’s my favorite noodle shop in the city. Moderately priced, and crowded at lunch, so go early if you can. The veggie noodles are delish!

Cha-ya at 1686 Shattuck

Japanese vegan cuisine--does that sound bland? Don’t be fooled, this place is wonderful and makes you feel very healthy as well as satisfying your foodie urges. Order a variety of dishes, including salads, small sides, and vegan sushi, and share. The place is very small, but since I like it, I’ll call it intimate, instead.


Soi Four Bangkok Eatery at 5421 College

The fanciest of the group, it can get a little loud, but the tofu with cashews and curries are wonderful and the mango with sticky rice the best.

Tuk-Tuk Thai Cafe at 2468 Shattuck and Haste

Very reasonably priced, the som tum papaya salad is the best in town and other dishes have a homestyle heartiness that doesn’t disappoint. There's an actual tuk-tuk inside for the kids to play on.

Sabuy, Sabuy II at 1233 San Pablo in Albany

We’re not sure why this restaurant isn’t more crowded because the food is great and very authentic and the service wonderful. We like the steamed vegetable salad (which you usually have to request), but the ginger salad is great, too. As are all of the stir fries, curries and pad thai. Sometimes you'll get a complimentary ice cream--or maybe that's just if you bring cute kids along?

Sweet Basil at 1736 Solano

This is where I go with my writing buddy to critique stories. If you like what you read of my work, you may want to seek the same sustenance. We always order the crunchy tofu with cashews and sweet onions. The kang tofu (with green curry), egg rolls, and snowpea shoots with mushrooms are other inspiring literary lady favorites.


A Cote at 5478 College Avenue in Oakland

An eclectic, small plates restaurant that lets you pick and choose from around the world for a tasty meal. If you can, sit outside under the tent. I like the Middle-Eastern inspired dishes, the cheese plates and the desserts.

Angeline’s at 2261 Shattuck

A place for New Orleans cuisine, it has all the standards plus a nice vegetarian mushroom jambalaya. Save room for pecan pie, beignets or banana bread pudding for dessert.

Cesar at 1515 Shattuck

Go at lunch if you want to hear your companion, otherwise the scene is noisy. But the food is always a great selection of tapas which changes daily. You’ll feel very cool as you sip wine and share a bocadillo. Started by another Chez Panisse graduate.

Chez Panisse Café at 1517 Shattuck

This place is the beating heart of California cuisine. The room is craftsmen chic, the food is always seasonal and delicious. Save room for dessert—always. I like upstairs because you can choose your menu, but once a year of so, the prix fixe downstairs is worth the splurge (although strict vegetarians will want to skip it).

Lalime’s at 1329 Gilman

Cheaper than Chez Panisse and almost as good, this restaurant always has an interesting veggie entrée. They are very respectful if you bring your own good bottle of wine. They also have monthly special dinners.

Riva Cucina at 800 Heinz Avenue

Tucked away down a side street near Magic Gardens, this quiet Italian place has excellent pasta and a nice wine list.


Pizzaiolo at 5008 Telegraph, Oakland

Ethereally thin, crispy wood-fired pizza by Chez Panisse alum. This place is definitely worth a visit. From the bread basket to desserts, it’s all a cut above in an area where everything is already pretty good.

Gioia at 1586 Hopkins

This is for takeout or bare bones counter seating, but the super thin crust pizza with fresh toppings is reminiscent of Rome and a nice change from the usual. The selections are limited to five or six varieties per day.

Zachary’s at 1853 Solano

Hearty Chicago-style pizza. The spinach and mushroom deep dish is superb, the thin crust is nice too, with a dusting of corn meal. I like the Mediterranean pizza olives, artichokes and feta.


Rick and Ann’s at 2922 Domingo near the Claremont

Our favorite place for a celebration brunch. The pancakes and scones are wonderful and change daily. The Claremont hotel is across the street and adds nice scenery to a great meal.

Café Fanny at 1603 San Pablo and Cedar

Unless it’s a sunny day, outside seating is chilly, but the café au lait in bowls, buckwheat crepes, poached eggs with baguette and oatmeal make you feel very Continental. The millet muffins and beignets are good, too. Also open for lunch. A sister restaurant of Chez Panisse.

Fat Apples at 1346 MLK and Rose

A great, all-American restaurant. Eggs, pumpkin or buttermilk pancakes, oatmeal, it’s all good. Cranberry oatmeal scones and almond pastries are Berkeley classics. The coffee is super strong and makes Peet’s seem weak. For lunch or dinner, the burgers and chili and salads are satisfying.

Café Intermezzo at 2442 Telegraph and Haste

The Veggie Delite, with no sprouts and herbal vinaigrette on the side is simply the best salad on earth. I get one for my birthday every year and I need nothing else to celebrate. I try to get one as often as possible at other times of the year, too. One is good to split and it comes with sweet honey whole wheat bread.

900 Grayson at, you guessed it, 900 Grayson

A good place to go for a dainty, upscale and very urban cool brunch.


Pyung Chang Tofu Soft House at 4071 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

Like most Korean restaurants, it has lots of meat dishes, but the Vegetarian Soon tofu is fabulous. The meal starts with a feast of small dishes filled with interesting tidbits like kimchee, spicy green beans and savory boiled potatoes, then comes the entrée with rice cooked in a stone pot. The rice is DIVINE, smoky and complex, just like imagine it tasted in the old days when great-grandma cooked over wood fires. Most of your fellow diners will be Korean—always a good sign!

Kirin, Cuisine of Northern China at 1767 Solano

Our local Chinese takeout joint happens to be an upscale place suitable for company and celebrations. The crab noodles are especially delicious, but everything is good—Mu Shu, Kung Pao shrimp or tofu, Spicy Eggplant. Even the fortune cookies are good.

Bui at 1647 Solano

The fancy food presentation and low lighting make this a good date restaurant, but fortunately the Vietnamese food is also very good, although the menu is more limited than most Asian restaurants.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Love Hotel Madness at Lust Bites

Tomorrow is a special stop on my Amorous Woman blog tour. I myself play tour guide to the wonderful world of Japanese love hotels over at Lust Bites. It's going to be quite a party. First, you can play a very exciting game called Love Hotel Madness, where everyone is a winner. Then you can join in some mad-libbing with my co-host and Lord of Misrule, Jeremy Edwards. One lucky mad-libber will win a copy of my novel, Amorous Woman, which is like a trip to Japan all in itself.

Don't we all need a vacation?

See you there!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Talking Sexy on the Radio

Last Saturday, July 12, I drove through the Marin countryside up to lovely Point Reyes Station, California to give my first radio interview on Ellen Shehadeh’s View Point at KWMR 90.5 FM. Ellen talks with people who “have a passion for what they are doing” and I was honored to be given the opportunity to talk about my passions: Japan, erotica, food and my new novel, Amorous Woman.

I’ll confess I was terrified before the show, although I knew I had a lot of things I wanted to say about my topics. From the start, however, Ellen made me feel very comfortable and I was reassured that we were working together, as if I were just sitting down with an intelligent person who was interested in finding out more about my work. Of course, radio does have its special rules—Ellen explained there were certain words I wasn’t allowed to say on the air, although I used them aplenty in my novel! That’s the expected George Carlin list along with things like “pissed off.” Who knew?

Show time approached and the “Pair of Doc’s” show participants before us came out of the broadcasting room. We didn’t have much time to get settled, Ellen before the control panel, I with headphones, positioned before a large yellow mike, hoping I could find the “sweet spot.” I had my bottle of water next to me in case of dry throat and a pulse pounding with expectation tinged with fear. Ah, but aren’t we all nervous at a time like this?

Then it happened. View Point was on the air. Ellen introduced her show and me, making me sound much more impressive than I felt. Then it was my turn. Would my voice come out a pathetic squeak? Or fail me all together? No, I managed to do a reasonable imitation of an ordinary human being as I thanked Ellen for having me on the show. And then I was off and running, chatting away about my favorite topics as I actually do with a friend! I had a blast!

Again, Ellen was the perfect host, easing me along with provocative and interesting questions, helping smooth over one moment when I found myself at a loss for words. There is a real art to interviewing and I was very lucky my first experience was with a real artist. I never had to say I was “pissed off” because I felt quite the opposite—exhilarated and enthusiastic.

If you missed the live show at 11 am last Saturday, you have another chance to listen this Friday, July 18 at 11 am PDT. If you’re near Point Reyes Station, turn your dial to KWMR 90.5 FM. If you’re not, you can go to KWMR’s web site where they stream the broadcast “live” at that time. Just click on “on air” at the top of the page. I’m also going to get a copy of the show and can make that available to you upon request if you missed it the second time, too.

Another confession. I haven’t listened to the show yet myself, although my husband seemed happy and impressed with it (but he has to be, if he wants sex). So, I’ll be listening on Friday, too, perhaps groaning and wincing at how I sound the way people are wont to do when they hear their own voice. But I have to say that the experience itself was so very positive, I’m glad I did it no matter what! Thank you, Ellen, and thank you, Amorous Woman, for taking me places I never thought I’d visit.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The "Next Oprah" Interviews Me!

Actually, I wonder if Oprah could do as well--could you resist spilling all of your secrets to those dreamy brown eyes? Maryanne Stahl, author of Forgive the Moon and The Opposite Shore, a wonderful writer and an immensely generous mentor to so many writers, interviewed me for the July/August issue of Eclectica Magazine, which offers a delicious buffet of poetry, short fiction, essays, reviews and interviews with creative types--even, gasp, erotica writers. This interview explores bold new territory for me, in particular my take on feminism and creativity, why I like writing sex scenes, why submission can be empowering and all sorts of other juicy topics. It's like listening in on an intimate conversation between two friends telling all over tea--and believe me, this one is worth eavesdropping on! So pop on over to the interview and let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Amorous Woman Gets Sage and Vivacious

Lydia's safely back in the pages of Amorous Woman, acting out all of her steamy scenes with renewed enthusiasm, and so we've chugged on to the next stop on our amorous blog tour: a little chat with Sage Vivant about sex and Japan, love hotels, more confessions about autobiographical moments in the novel and plenty of other spicy topics.

When I first started blogging, I made a list of seven writers' soirees I'd like to attend. One involved talking shop in a low-lit San Francisco tapas place with Sage and M. Christian. Sometimes wishes do come true! Sage and I have had many delightful lunches in San Francisco, although mostly in a charming French bistro, called The Butler and the Chef. I can't resist their fabulous beet, walnut, and goat cheese salad--and am totally enchanted by the complimentary truffles for dessert. (However, if you're there around Thanksgiving, you must try the French-style pumpkin pie, the best on earth!)

Sage is definitely one of the writers who makes erotica a fun place to hang--she gives good blog, too! So check it and leave a comment and maybe we'll invite you along to The Butler and the Chef next time for some delicious talk....

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I Need Your Help....

"July is hot," to quote Quilty Clare in Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, and one of the steamiest events of my July is the release of the anthology Spanked: Red-Cheeked Erotica, edited by the queen of blushing bottom erotica, Rachel Kramer Bussel. Rachel has just interviewed me on the Spanked blog--you can read it here.

Now, here's why I'm asking for help. Rachel asked me to name a favorite spanking story and I had one all ready with title and author, but there was another one I read a few years back that I can't identify, except that I remember, in rather remarkable detail, the plot. I describe it in the interview--if this rings a bell, please let me know!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Juicy Whisperings in Your Ear

The Fourth of July marked a weekend of great discoveries and accomplishments. First the discovery, Neve Black highlighted a scientific report about chemical compound found in watermelon that acts similarly to Viagra. Good news for Independence Day partiers, but bad news for the drug companies? To my mind, the greater discovery is Neve's blog and her sexy writing!

Then today, my trusty technical adviser set me up to record my very first podcast! In honor of the high-summer holiday, I decided to start with a reading of my July column for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, "Naked at the Farmer's Market," you know, something juicy but not too intense. Like every erotic artist, I believe it's best to warm up your audience slowly.

So, if you want to hear me praise melons in my very own voice, check out my podcast. Feedback is very welcome. Should I keep making podcasts? Record an excerpt from Amorous Woman perhaps so you can hear Lydia's voice as I did? Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I've Found Her!

I am SO relieved to tell you I've finally found Lydia. Of course, I should have expected she'd head over to the blog of Jeremy Edwards--that picture of him in his boxers is pretty irresistible. First my wayward storyteller gives Jeremy a no-holds barred interview on what she really thinks about naked men, me as an author, and her life on "the other side" in Fictionland. Then she disappears into the fedora cupboard and then all we hear is soft moans and heavy breathing. Good thing for me her lust got the better of her this time around, too. I'm standing outside the cupboard door, my now-mostly-blank copy of Amorous Woman open to page one. Jeremy's going to lure her out with some feint about taking off his boxers and when she responds, which she always does to something like that, I'm going to snap the book shut on her and put her right back where she belongs! Come on over and join the fun--that is if you like to watch ;-)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Spicy Secrets with Mars, Venus and Alana

My Amorous Woman blog tour continues with a stop at Alana Noel's very cool blog Mars with Mars and Venus. There's a (literally) steamy excerpt from my novel and a wonderful Q & A that was incredibly fun to do. You'll learn a lot of things about me I've never shared in public before: my pop culture indulgences, advice I'd give to my 13-year-old self and why I'm indebted to Diane di Prima. Alana's questions made me feel very clever and interesting and urbane, as if I were sitting in a cafe in Paris uttering witty, but significant things. I also mention the work of my good friend Susan DiPlacido, one of my favorite erotica writers and why I love her stories, so do go check it out. It's a whistle stop for artisanal ice cream in a homemade cone!

My Lesbian Love Affair with Melons

Fruit and vegetables turn me on. And nothing turns me on like a ripe, juicy, succulent melon. This month my column for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association (deservedly voted a top Web site for writers) is called "Naked at the Farmer’s Market: Ripe Stories, Juicy Fruit, and my Lesbian Love Affair with Melons."

July is the season to celebrate fresh fruit and I tell you how I pick my juiciest melons from the crowd, what I do when I get them home and what they’ve taught me about writing erotica.

So head on over to ERWA and try a free sample of summer’s sweet and sexy bounty!