Author Archive

Sunday, March 18th, 2012 | Author:

I read a couple of essays today that really resonated with me. Link time!

First up is “All About Pleasure: The Politics of Arousal,” by Donna George Storey on the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog. Storey talks about the recent PayPal censorship issue, and points out that fiction is generally meant to arouse something in the reader:

The truth is people read all fiction to be aroused. Erotica is assumed to focus only on sexual arousal. Literary and mainstream fiction are supposed to stay above the waist to arouse love and hate, our sense of justice and morality, and an identification with the fate of the characters. I can’t count how many times I’ve read advice for literary writers to give your poor protagonist as many trials and conflicts as possible, the better to create a sense of pleasurable release when she prevails. Eroticists are accused of manipulating their readers for a low purpose in that perhaps—or even hopefully [gasp]—the story will lead to what has traditionally been referred to as “self-abuse.”

Storey goes on to point out how frequently child abuse or childrens’ deaths crop up in more literary fiction, seemingly as an authorial shortcut to stirring the reader’s emotions. Which is kind of gross, right? I mean, that makes me a lot more uncomfortable than the vast majority of erotica does.

Link number two is “Romance, Arousal, and Condescension,” by SB Sarah over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I’ve seen people who care a lot about pointing out that romance writing is legitimate writing say “romance is not porn for women” many times, and it usually makes me wince a little, because I feel like there’s an invisible “because porn is inherently bad and romance is not!” tacked on, or maybe some icky evolutionary psychology bullshit about how women and men have totally different, hardwired arousal responses and whatnot. So when I see that phrase, I tend to go read something else. Sarah caught my attention with it this time, though, because she added in the same bold print:

Porn is porn for women.

There is nothing wrong with either one.

And whatever a woman employs to satisfy her own sexual curiosity and hornypants is her business, not yours.

She then writes about how hard it is to actually define stuff like porn and erotica (no kidding!), but what I really liked about the blog post is her discussion of how condescension and discomfort surrounding women reading romance is largely condescension and discomfort surrounding women being sexual. Which is kind of a big thing at the moment here in my country…as well as almost everywhere and everywhen else.

Very thought-provoking stuff. Go! Read!


Also, I promise you this is the last time I will beg for votes (well, for this, at least), but Cecilia Tan extended the deadline for voting on the poll at Circlet Press for the upcoming print anthology, so: If you happen to read this before March 19th, and you want to make me really happy, go here and vote for “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment” by Elizabeth Reeve (Sense and Sensuality), please!

Category: Read This  | Tags: , ,  | Comments off
Monday, March 12th, 2012 | Author:

My progress in getting through my to-be-read shelf has taken two big hits lately. First, the pull-chain on my bedside lamp broke. Which wouldn’t have been quite such an issue if the lamp wasn’t also my bedside table, and kind of too expensive to just replace entirely. Fortunately, my husband isn’t afraid of wiring, and after a trip to Home Depot – and about a thousand reminders from me to take care of it, please – he fixed the light. Hooray! I could read in bed again!

Just in time for Mass Effect 3 to be released! For those who don’t know, that’s the final installment in a pretty seriously epic video game series, of which I have been an embarrassingly fervent fangirl since 2007. So of course I had to play it right away, which means that all my leisure time has been spent in front of the TV for the past week or so.

Of course, just because I haven’t been reading much doesn’t mean that I’ve left my TBR shelf completely alone. No, I’ve been adding to it. I’m still managing not to buy any new books, but that’s not slowing me down as much as I thought it might. That many Smashwords authors celebrated the recent “Read an Ebook Week” by making titles available for free with a discount code didn’t help a bit – I think I’ve downloaded another 30+ titles since my last blog post. Oops.

I have a really funny story about my out-of-control urge to obtain new books, actually. It’s also a funny story about drugs – but nothing too scandalous! The drug in question is zolpidem – many people know it by the brand name Ambien – which is used to treat insomnia. It’s pretty effective, and I’m glad to have it when I need it, because sleep is one of those things that one can’t really do without (trust me). But it turns out that for lots of people – myself included, on occasion – being asleep while on zolpidem doesn’t necessarily mean being in bed with your eyes closed and snoring and so on.

Sometimes it means performing fairly complex tasks just as though you were awake, only without the awake part. Most often, this just means weird conversations which you won’t remember – though the person you share a bed with will, and he will make merciless fun of you for your philosophical musings about what responsibilities you as a creator have to the imaginary hedgehogs sitting on your stomach – but it can also involve a lot more activity than that.

I’ve sent emails in my sleep and chatted with friends over Google Talk using my phone, and once got out of bed and went into another room to fetch a cookbook so that I could look up a recipe for creamed onions. Luckily for me, I don’t say anything when I’m asleep that I wouldn’t have said while awake in my emails, and my grammar is much better than that of my friends who drunk-text, so no one gives me too much of a hard time over it. And when I looked up the onion recipe, I carefully marked the place and set my copy of Joy of Cooking down next to the bed so I’d trip on it in the morning and remember what I had done, but I didn’t actually try to cook.

But it’s usually just plain old sleeping, and since I’ve never done anything dangerous or really embarrassing while on zolpidem, I keep using it when I have insomnia.

Which is how I came to download a book in my sleep.

Yes, that’s right. Apparently not content with my waking book haul, I got out of bed, came into the study, looked up a title I was interested in on Amazon (I had read earlier in the day on a forum that it would soon be offered for free), and had it sent to the Kindle app on my phone, all while completely checked out.

I was pretty confused when I woke up in the morning and saw that I had mysteriously acquired a new book overnight, that’s for sure. Luckily, it was actually free by the time I hit that seductive “Buy now with 1-Click” button. I’m just glad that I didn’t suddenly have a sleep-addled urge to buy anything else – who knows what I could have ended up with!

Well, more books, probably.

I should probably start turning my electronics off before bedtime, huh?


By the way, there’s still time to help my work make it into Circlet Press’s best-of print anthology! Just go to the poll here and vote for “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment” by Elizabeth Reeve (from Sense & Sensuality) before March 15th.

Want to read an excerpt first? I’ve posted one here on my site.

Thanks for your support!

Category: Uncategorized  | Tags: ,  | Comments off
Monday, February 20th, 2012 | Author:

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted about my resolution to cut down my TBR shelf, and I figure it’s time for a check-in. On the plus side, I’ve read 12 books from the tbr-in-2012 collection! On the minus side, I seem to have added…33.

Oh my god, it’s a sickness! These were all freebie books, at least, so I’m not breaking my secondary resolution about not buying anything new for a couple of months, but still.

Because they were free, though, I picked up lots of things I probably wouldn’t have taken a chance on if I was making a purchase, so I’m anticipating one of several desirable outcomes per book, here:

  • I like something new and unexpected! Hooray!
  • I dislike something new so much that I won’t be tempted to get more of it. Hooray!
  • I don’t finish the book, free of the “but you paid for it” obligation that often keeps me going with an unsatisfactory read. Hooray!

As for the 12 books that I’ve managed to remove from the TBR shelf… I have a few thoughts to share about a handful of them.

Primary Inversion, by Catherine Asaro, was one of the first things I read this year, and an interesting way to kick-start 2012. It’s very 90′s-space-opera-y, complete with a lot of specialized terminology for things that ends up reading like calling a rabbit a smeerp, except that the things being described don’t exist, or didn’t exist at the time the author was writing (unlike rabbits). That sounds like a heavy criticism, but I don’t mean it that way – futuristic tech and the technobabble that goes with it is a convention of the genre. I definitely noticed it more in Primary Inversion than I sometimes do, but it wasn’t any kind of barrier to getting sucked into the plot, which combines elements of romance with action-adventure and interplanetary politics. Fun!

Primary Inversion also has something that I don’t see a lot of in fiction of any stripe and really appreciated: therapy. I know, right? But really, psychologists and psychiatrists are usually shallowly portrayed as forces inimical to the heroes when they make it into something like a space opera at all, which is too bad. Because who needs therapy more than super soldiers? Asaro seems to have had similar thoughts, and the conversations between Sauscony, the heroine of Primary Inversion, and Jak Tager, the “heartbender” (aka psychiatrist), are well-written and affecting.

There was one barrier to my full enjoyment, which is that the version I was reading was riddled with minor typographical errors. I got it from the Baen Free Library, so I’m not inclined to complain much since the price was pretty excellent, but the errors are something that I would have happily done without. I have no idea if other editions of the novel are better copy-edited.

Earlier this month, I (re)read some really classic sci-fi in the form of Phillip K. Dick’s “Second Variety,” a novelette-length story that I first read as a preteen and which has haunted me ever since. I find the protagonist less interesting every time I read it, but my fascination with the story as a whole is constant. If you’ve never read it, you should get yourself a copy.

In “branching out a little from science fiction” reading, another thing I’ve read since January and heartily enjoyed is Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price, which reads more or less like fantasy, though there aren’t any magical elements. The speculative angle to the story is that male babies are very rare, creating an interesting social organization where sisters share a husband, and brothers and sons are trade commodities.

I read some reviews of the novel that take Spencer to task for “failing” to write a gender-swapped universe that is pro-feminist (because corruption and coercion exists even with women in charge and/or because there are female rapists, among other reasons), which I think are a little misguided, mostly because I don’t think A Brother’s Price is an attempt to write a gender-swapped universe, pro-feminist or otherwise (and also because I don’t subscribe to the form of feminism that holds that women are intrinsically better than men and that therefore a matriarchy would be automatically awesome, but that’s another issue entirely).

I can’t say that with any certainty, of course, since I haven’t the slightest notion what Spencer meant to do (this is a thing that I wish more reviewers would keep in mind!), but the writing is skillful and the plotting precise, and I don’t think it would have escaped an experienced writer’s notice as she worked that the society in this book isn’t just a flip-flop of our own, in terms of gender – the scarcity of one sex is what drives the (very interesting!) social organization, and it only works if the scarcity is of males, for pretty basic and obvious biological reasons.

That brothers are rare and must be protected against husband-raiders, etc., does set up some interesting gender-role stuff, though, in that Spencer’s young hero acts much like the sheltered heroines of fantasy romance. Which means that the royal princesses, sisters all heading into any prospective marriage together, are the hero, complete with a tendency toward romance-alpha-male-type seduction of the heroine.

So, it’s basically a historical-style romance where the hero is a bunch of princesses and the heroine is a young man with overbearing-but-loving sisters and there are all sorts of political machinations and skullduggery and battles and things. I loved it.

Okay, enough of that. It’s back to the book mines for me!

Category: Read This  | Tags: ,  | One Comment
Sunday, February 19th, 2012 | Author:

As you may have heard, one of my stories, “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment,” is eligible for Circlet Press’s upcoming best-of collection. Eee! Naturally, I am hoping that everyone will vote for it and it’ll be included! And of course I’d hope that for any of the stories I’ve written. But “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment” is the story that snuck up and stole my heart, and it would be particularly wonderful to have this one make it into a print anthology.

I thought I’d post an excerpt to try and encourage some more votes, and I’ve decided on the first kiss between our heroine, Mary Bennet (yes, that Mary Bennet), and the incubus she has accidentally summoned and bound to her, who calls himself Nick. Romantic, eh?

As we join them here, they are finishing up a crash course in magic that Nick has been giving Mary in hopes of fulfilling the terms of the spell she cast. There’s a bit of saucy language in the scene I’ve chosen, as well as the kissing, but nothing too scandalous. So read on for an excerpt from “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment,” originally published in Circlet Press’s Sense and Sensuality:

more…

Category: News  | Tags:  | Comments off
Thursday, February 16th, 2012 | Author:

Circlet Press is turning twenty, and in celebration they’ll be releasing a best-of collection featuring works from their ebook anthologies. They’re taking votes to help decide which stories to include – and one of mine is on the shortlist!

So head over to this link to vote: http://www.circlet.com/?p=3777

And pick me! Pick me! By which I mean, please vote for “A Woman of Uncommon Accomplishment” by Elizabeth Reeve (from Sense and Sensuality). As much as I love each and every one of my stories, that one is probably my very favorite, and I would be so, so thrilled to see it in this collection.

I would also like to recommend to your attention “Ink” by Bernie Mojzes (from Whispers in Darkness) and “Hunter, Prey” by Marie Carlson (from Like Tooth and Claw), which are two stories on that (excellent) list that I adore.

Category: News  | Tags:  | Comments off