Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have A Winner!

Hello, everyone!

The two weeks since the Grip re-opened have simply flown by. And so we've drawn a winner from all the non-Grip people who commented during that period.

Congratulations to BooksRForever! She wins a prize pack including the following great books:

Take Me, Break Me - Cari Silverwood
Unconditional Surrender - Desiree Holt
Sheltered - Charlotte Stein
Obsession - Jean Roberta
Girls Gone Carnal - Giselle Renarde
A Ride to Remember - Sacchi Green
Body Electric - Lisabet Sarai

A big thank you to everyone who visited and commented. I hope you'll continue to join us when you can, and add your voices to the conversation.

Our next topic, starting Monday, is "Procrastination". That needs no explanation, right?!

Then, two weeks from Monday, we tackle "Take Me Away" - a discussion of realism versus fantasy in erotic fiction.

Join us!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Tanith Lee by Any Name

Re Disturbed by Her Song by Tanith Lee, writing as and with Esther Garber and Judas Garbah (Lethe Press, 2011) and Fatal Women: The Esther Garber Novellas by Tanith Lee (Lethe Press, 2013)

by Jean Roberta

Lethe Press, which often sends me free books for review, has now released two reprinted collections of short fiction with a subtly erotic and queer flavour, written by Tanith Lee in the guise of several alter egos. I had read her fantasies before, but her earlier work was never like this.

(While carrying on a doomed, long-distance relationship with a woman in another town in the mid-1980s, I spent three hours on a bus reading Sung in Shadow, Tanith Lee’s version of Romeo and Juliet. I was completely pulled in. I realized that I couldn’t discuss this book with my girlfriend in any depth because she wasn’t much of a reader, and that was exactly why a story about doomed love seemed so appropriate to keep me occupied while I was in limbo between her home and my home. But that is another post, or review.)

Tanith Lee is a legend among fantasy writers and the author of over ninety novels. Her work has been attracting a cult following since the 1970s, when she sold her first book to DAW Press. Her tales are elaborate, and her words are as carefully chosen as precious jewels.

Recently she has been writing stories and novellas under the names of a whole family of alter egos. In “Meeting the Garbers” in Disturbed by Her Song, Lee claims:

“I first met the Garbers in the 1990s; that is, I met Esther [who then ‘wrote’ two books], and her brother, Judas. Anna didn’t turn up, though she subsequently sent me a polite and kindly note.”

Why Anna chose to send the author a note instead of “turning up” is a mystery. None of the Garbers (two Jewish sisters and their half-Arabian half-brother, who spells the family name differently) is real, but apparently they “exist” for a reason.

In an afterword at the end of Fatal Women, a collection of novellas written by “Esther Garber,” Mavis Haut (a scholar who has studied Lee’s work) explains:

“When Tanith Lee writes as Esther Garber, we hear a voice that belongs to a well-defined personality. . . This new writer-in-residence sets Lee free from her better known writing past and opens the way to new directions.”

Actually, the writer “Esther Garber” seems to me to be more of a chameleon than a “well-defined personality,” but she usually writes in the first-person, and her stories seem more intimate, realistic and low-keyed than the more operatic novel series by Tanith Lee as herself.

All the stories in Disturbed by Her Song and Fatal Women include same-sex relationships, so the use of several writing personae (including that of a gay man) serves the illusion that these stories are based on the direct experience of characters other than the author.

In "Alexandrians," a story in Disturbed by Her Song, Judas Garbah remembers his neglected childhood in Egypt, and the male friend of his mother who noticed him and explained something:

"I'll teach you two new words. A woman who loves another woman is called for an island, Lesbos, a Lesbian. But a man who loves another man is called for Alexander, who was the son of a god, and loved men, and for his city by the sea, Alexandria. . . . Will you be an Alexandrian, Judas?"

Judas was unable to answer that question at the time, but as an adult, he remembers this conversation and the tingling touch of the man who paid attention to him.

There is very little explicit description of sex in these stories, but they are drenched in eroticism and mystery, which seem closely related. “Esther Garber” is a mistress of the “what-if” story, in which a central character’s yearning for another person, for a mutual relationship, and for the freedom to love in public is repeatedly disappointed, but which becomes a long-term obsession.

The title story of the earlier book, Disturbed by Her Song, is about a one-sided lesbian crush, a kind of non-relationship which takes over the life of the central character.

Georgina, a minor singer/actress, first meets fellow-actress Sula Dale when both are in their twenties. Georgina is impressed with Sula's performance in a classical Greek play. Georgina tries to cultivate a friendship with her, but Sula doesn't respond. Over decades, Georgina dreams about Sula and wishes she could sing for her. After several unsuccessful relationships with other women, Georgina writes a play for Sula to star in. Sula is grateful for the work, but doesn't seem to remember meeting Georgina before.

So does Sula ever recognize the devotion of her greatest fan? Never. At the end of the story, Georgina walks out of a restaurant where Sula has failed to recognize or acknowledge her.

Considering that both characters earn a living as performers by using their voices, there is a kind of resounding silence at the heart of the story. The key to it is provided by an older man in the theatre world, someone Georgina respects. He tells a story within the story:

"'Once upon a time,' Marc said to them. . . 'there was a princess, outside whose high bedroom window a nightingale sang every night from a tree, a pomegranate, or perhaps a blossoming plum.

'While the nightingale sang, the princess slept deeply and well. . . However there came a night when the nightingale, for reasons of its own, did not sing but flew far away. In the morning the princess summoned a gardener and commanded that the tree be cut down. He protested, saying the tree was young, healthy and fruitful. But the princess would have none of that. She told him that all that one previous night a nightingale had perched in the tree, and her sleep had been very much disturbed by its song.'"

The group of friends who hear this story in a restaurant discuss its meaning, but no one has a brilliant epiphany, and each friend seems to learn something different from it.

A story in the newer collection, Fatal Women, explores the theme of a one-sided lesbian crush with less tragic intensity. In “The Umbrella,” Sarah, the central character, notices a young woman who often crosses paths with her. Sarah becomes curious about “The Sugar Girl” (who buys grocery items, including sugar). One rainy day, Sarah is able to offer the shelter of her umbrella to “The Sugar Girl,” who accepts. This incident, which would have been the opening scene in a lesbian romance, turns out to be bittersweet, since Sarah never sees the object of her crush again. The memory of what might have been haunts Sarah far longer than she might have been haunted by a past friendship or love affair.

As the narrator explains in the earlier story, “Disturbed by Her Song,” a love affair that never really begins also never really ends. The possibilities seem to shimmer in the air, suggesting another dimension in which dreams can come true.

The novellas by “Esther Garber,” collected under the title "Fatal Women," take place in various historical eras. They all seem influenced by the nineteenth-century concept of a “femme fatale,” the French term for a “fatal woman.” Wikipedia claims that this character:

“is a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. She is an archetype of literature and art. Her ability to entrance and hypnotise her victim with a spell was in the earliest stories seen as being literally supernatural; hence, the femme fatale today is still often described as having a power akin to [that of] an enchantress, seductress, vampire, witch, or demon, having some power over men.”

Femmes fatale abound in the art and literature of the nineteenth century, when most real women had no economic or political power. A general suspicion that women could wield supernatural power actually seems to date from the witch-mania of the Christian Inquisition (approximately 1480-1700). Yet the theme of the fatal enchantress seems immortal, whether it comes from a fear of women or from women’s own dreams of power.

The “fatal women” in this collection are different from the nineteenth-century cliché in several ways: they are all sexually attracted to other women (although they must be discreet), and their stories span a period from the mid-nineteenth century to the aftermath of the Second World War, suggesting that “Esther Garber” is remarkably long-lived and possibly immortal.

None of these novellas deals with the supernatural in an obvious way, but there is a certain uncanniness in all of them. In the novella “Femme Fatale,” an Englishwoman has simply disappeared while travelling in France with her female lover, who is distraught. Did the absent woman ever really exist? If so, why do none of the locals claim to have seen her? The narrator, travelling with her own controlling female companion, is attracted to Iren, the one who is frantic to find out what happened to hers.

As in a horror movie, the landscape seems to be littered with subtle clues, and even objects (as in a Stephen King plot) have wills of their own. “Esther” explains:

“My companion, whom I shall call Munne for want of anything better, also had a little car. And in this being we had been driving—or the car had, it possessed a dark soul of its own—across the swooping plains of the region, littered with enormous rocks, and flayed by unsparing sunlight the color of bleached Sauterne.”

The mystery of the missing woman and the intentions of the demon car are never really resolved, but Esther has an epiphany about her own “disappearance” into a submissive role which is never openly discussed and is not exactly consensual. The casually insensitive Munne is a snob on several levels, and she equates the annoying passivity she sees in Esther with her Jewishness. In the time-frame of the story, the Second World War and the Holocaust are still in the future, and Munne’s attitude seems to foreshadow the real-life horrors to come.

“Le Jardin,” a story with a clearly supernatural component, is possibly the most moving. A French woman painter has become famous after her death, and a persistent male art-collector has tracked down Rachel, a woman who met the painter through her parents and who is rumoured to own one of her drawings. Unexplained smells and bird songs float through Rachel’s apartment while she tells the collector that unfortunately, she no longer has the sketch.

Avrilenne, the artist, was a generation older than Rachel and was married to a man. Rachel seems to be honest when she claims that she and Avrilenne were never lovers. They had a moment of connection which never blossomed into a full relationship, but Rachel seems to have become the keeper of Avrilenne’s spirit.

The sketch depicts an actual garden on the grounds of a French chateau in which atrocities were committed during the Nazi occupation of France, and which was then destroyed by the French Resistance. Like innocence in the Garden of Eden, the beauty of the real garden at its best lives on in the sketch, which Rachel would never sell for any price. And the love affair which was never born can also never die.

Tanith Lee is good as herself, but as any one of the “Garbers,” she is heartbreaking.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Notes from a Debauched and Insatiable Reader

by Amanda Earl

To say that I am a voracious reader would be an understatement. I devour the written word, whether physical book, or e-book on my Kindle or my Android; magazine or e-zine, encylopedia or Wikipedia. I am pantextual. Thus the question of what I am currently reading becomes complex because I am always in the midst of numerous texts for various purposes.

I've decided to narrow down the question to what I am currently reading for pleasure. My pleasure reads are divided into multiple parts as well, but in order to avoid leading you down a winding garden path, I'm going to focus on fiction.

Perhaps in a future instalment I shall chat about my other reading motivations, including curiosity [non fiction]; research [for my novel in progress] and lust for form, emotion and language in a condensed space [poetry]. Not that there isn't bleed through from one category into the next, of course. And whatever rules I make, I shall break because there is nothing I love more than breaking rules.

My pleasure fiction reads can themselves be divided into three categories--as you can see, I adore lists--: wankable smut; page-turners and a category I hesitate to refer to as "literary" because the latter sounds snobbish. I ask you to forgive me for such a hoary old and imprecise term. I will use it here to refer to texts which are influenced by the literary canon, and which deal with the human condition. Of course the "literary canon" is another annoying and limiting label, so I'm going to shut up now and discuss the texts I'm reading. Note that what I am always looking for in fiction is a well-spun story with fascinating characters and enthralling, well-chosen language.

1. Wankable Smut

Erotica can fit into all three categories, but I admit that there is some erotica that I read purely for its ability to help me jill off.  I do occasionally watch porn, but text has a way of getting me off in ways that porn cannot because fiction doesn't limit my imagination, but rather expands it. There are no sounds of fake orgasms in erotic fiction. Most effective for masturbatory purposes is when the work is well-written, but if it isn't, and I am desperate for a good wank, I'll rely on a text that is not as well written, but contains the particular type of fantasy that will stir my cockles. It doesn't take long before I put the text down to allow my imagination (and my vibrator) to explore the scene or the image conveyed.

Victorian erotica tends to tingle my clit. I love that period in history, but also because  I am fond of the language, words such as gamahuche (oral sex) and quim (cunt), and the sheer enthusiasm of the characters in their unbridled pursuit of lust. Furthermore, many of the stories include taboos that can't be published today. If I'm going to fantasize, I want to be taken to dark places where I could never go in real life, I want to read transgressive, inappropriate, tawdry writing where characters are degraded and used in unspeakable ways or use others in ways I would like to be used in my fantasies.

With that in mind, I am currently reading "Eroticon Desires: Forbidden Writings from the Classic Texts" by J-P Spencer (Ed), which I discovered via the exhaustive and excellent recommendations prepared by members of the Erotica Readers and Writers Association in the "Books for Sensual Readers" section. The book's varietous debauchery is set in time periods from the Edwardian era to the 50s. I have been titillated so far by Ahmed's excitement over a young prostitute's servicing of four men, and a story about Uncle Jack and some innocent young ladies. I have a filthy mind and an insatiable libido.

I do read contemporary erotica too. For arousal of the mind and genitals, provocation and entertainment. Next on my reading list is Portia Da Costa's "In Too Deep" about a librarian, and I have just finished a wonderful trilogy entitled "The Sinners" by Tiffany Reisz featuring a dominatrix who is also a famous writer. The combination of smut and books tickles my fancy & my quim.

2. Page Turners

I always have one book going that is a fast, easy read for pure escapism. Right now it's Sue Grafton's "Q, R, S, T," several of the alphabet mystery series collected in one volume. I haven't read Grafton's work in years and I felt the need to catch up with one of my favourite detectives, the peanut-butter and pickle sandwich eater, lover of small spaces, fan of the Quarter Pounder and Cheese, Miss Kinsey Milhone. I like Kinsey because she is a misfit, an orphan and a sloppy dresser, a lover of junk food. I don't read mysteries often, but when I do it's for the characters not the plot. To be honest, I've never given a rat's ass about plot, for any type of fiction. It's the characters who fascinate me, their quirky lives, how they handle themselves, their transformation. I write character-driven fiction myself.

3. Literary Fiction

I listen to a lot of interviews on the radio, particularly on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company). It is through these interviews that I often discover writers I hadn't heard of before. One of my favourite programs is "Writers and Company" with Eleanor Wachtel, who is a fabulous interviewer. Recently she's been speaking with authors who read at the recent Jaipur Literary Festival in India. One of these was Jeet Thayil. Not only is Thayil an excellent poet, but he's also a fine spinner of tales. "Narcopolis," his first novel, is set in the opium dens of Bombay and in China during the Cultural Revolution. The language is gorgeous. The characters are unusual, particularly the character of Dimple. I won't offer a spoiler, but I will say, I enjoy books with characters who transgress  conventional gender boundaries. I have only just begun to read it, but I am already enthralled. I love tales set in India, a country that has always fascinated me. My favourite was Vikhram Seth's "A Suitable Boy," a large tome reminiscent of 19th century works by Dickens. It took me three months to read it, but it was worth it. Next on my list is Andrew Kaufman's "Born Weird."

Until we meet again, I remain your devoted purveyor of decadence and debauchery.

Amanda Earl

Post Scriptum - Comment and you'll be entered into a contest. The winner will receive  a prize package of e-books by some of my dear blog colleagues. Not me, alas, but there's some fine writing available for you from the others. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


By Daddy X

“Whatcha reading, baby?”

“Umm … nothing, hon. Coming to bed?”

“Another fuck book, isn’t it? How come you gals are always reading that kinda stuff in bed these days?”

“Tommy, it’s called ‘erotic romance’. Please, don’t make it seem all dirty and stuff.”

“Smells like pussy in here. Read me the next passage, starting right where you are now.”


“Go ahead, read it.”

“Okay. Ahem … ‘Waltzing Doris into a dark corner of the ballroom where no one could see, the tall stranger lifted her tiny black skirt from behind. His fingers investigated all the warmest places between her cool ass cheeks.’ … That’s it. Okay? Are you satisfied now?”

“No, go on. This sounds interesting. And leave yourself alone.”

“Sheesh! Okay … ‘Doris responded with an aggressive pelvic twist, angling a knee to press her swollen pubis against his thigh. She wondered if she’d left a stain on the dark gray trousers.’ … Okay now?”

“Damn, sounds hot, baby. Want some company?”

“Sure, hop in.”

“Hey, this isn’t a fuck book. This is Household Hints From Heloise!”

“Heloise gives good hint, huh baby?”

Practical Hints  © 2013 Daddy X

Now let’s get serious. This is, after all, my first blog post. Anywhere. Anytime. Ever.

What I’m reading these days: (Sounds like ‘What I Did Last Summer’)

Better question is what have I ‘finished’ reading lately (that isn’t smut). Seems nothing I pick up holds me through to the end, except smut.  And even then, I have to go jerk off every now and then.

Take Richard Ford’s “Canada”. I think I plodded through 50 pages or so before putting it down. Lots of lovely words, but no suspense, no anticipation of what’s to come. His style seems to be to tell the reader what’s happened, then to tell us again. And again. Then again.

And then there’s Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl”: Right from the first chapter, I wasn’t convinced that her first person Nick’s POV could actually be the thoughts of a man. I guess the story wasn’t enough to hold me either because page 134 stays folded down now for about five months. Yes, it’s a long way to go to put it down, but I guess I didn’t want to spend a lot more effort. I tried, really I did. Back to the smut, I guess.

Better luck on another of Flynn’s comes between the covers of “Dark Places”. Encompassing some truly dark elements, the story evolved for me as a more compelling tale than Gone, and her points of view clicked right on. It’s the story of an emotionally damaged survivor of a family massacre and the search for the real killer. The female protagonist’s teenage brother was initially convicted of the crime, but we soon come in contact with a fringe group that is invested in revisiting past crimes, ala the “Innocence Project” although this bunch is much more we’ll say … ‘informal’ in their organization? Twists and turns ensue, interesting societal rejects leading us off the track, but I won’t give too much away here for those who may want to read it. I must say, considering the audience here, that when compared with a lot of erotica, Dark Places isn’t so very dark at all.

Before that, the last book I finished was Maria Semple’s “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” Haven’t experienced such a sense of chaos since John Kennedy Toole’s “Confederacy of Dunces” back in the eighties. “Bernadette” made Time Magazine’s top ten for 2012, and IMO it is well deserved.  It’s a true hoot of a novel that kinda did break up for me in the final quarter, but evokes enough teary belly laughs to make for a satisfying read throughout.

A very different book is “People Who Eat Darkness” the ominous and quite real-life tale of a missing young English woman, disappeared from a red-light district of Tokyo in 2000; the story of her family, the search of the questionable streets, the narrowing down of the suspects, and the emergence of the killer himself. Then there’s the trial, stranger still than anything that preceded. This is no Mailer’s “Executioner’s Song” and certainly not Capote’s literary “In Cold Blood”, but it is one fucking creepy-ass study of an exotic and unsavory environment … strange to all but those who frequent such haunts around the world.

Another, older work (80’s?) in the same vein, is “Bad Blood”. Sorry for the pun. Terrible title, terrific true crime study by Richard M. Levine. Enter the story of what we call around Marin County the ‘Barbecue Murders’ considering that the doper kids who killed a girl’s parents burned the bodies in a pit on a hill at China Camp near San Francisco Bay. What proved so self-involving about this work is that, adjusting for the forks in the road life offers, one gets the sense that any of the main characters in the book could have been you or me.

Funny thing- when I read that one, I was tending bar at the time. Nobody thinks about hard drugs and prostitution in Marin County, Ca. but it’s here, I can tell you, and I came to know some of the local (by then grown up) characters peripherally involved in the book. 

BTW- Not long after I got that job, I was at a party and jokingly told somebody: “I work at the toughest bar in Marin.”

A big, jock type behind me overheard and asked, “Yeah? Where?” as if I was some kind of wuss, expecting me to say the Silver Peso, a biker bar or the Black Oak (where I also worked for a time). When I told him where I was, he sputtered, “Oh, fuck, that place! Jesus, man, I forgot about that place!”

And so it goes.

Swell to meet y’s all out there. Stay tuned every other Wednesday for my words of hyper-pseudo-non-wisdom, bearing with the fact that it’s tough to think straight with a hard on. 

Be well-
Daddy X

Going the Distance

by Kristina Wright

I'm not a quitter. I'm not someone who says, "No, I can't do that." I'm someone who believes if I put enough time and effort into something, I can accomplish anything. Or almost anything. Which is why I'm talking about running my first (and probably only) 5k sometime this year to celebrate my 46th birthday. I've never run in my life and am nowhere near being able to run a 5k right now (I just had my gallbladder out 5 days ago, so even walking is a bit too strenuous...), but I truly believe if I put my mind to it, I'll be able to accomplish it. If I want it badly enough and work hard enough.

The thing I can't factor into my desire to do something is time. Time is my enemy these days, as my to do list never seems to shorten (and I'm not a fan of busy work, so my to do list is a legitimate must-do list) and my days never seem to have enough time to let me accomplish everything I really, really want to do. This is not a call for pity-- I'm in awe of the life I have that is full to brimming with so many wonderful things that I actually have to say no to some of the good stuff. Everyone should be so lucky.

When I signed on to be a writer at Oh Get a Grip! I was a few months from having my second baby and my first baby was about eighteen months old. I was knee-deep (make that belly-deep) in deadlines and commitments and yet, when Lisabet asked if I'd like to join the incredible crew at the Grip, I didn't even hesitate. I said yes, of course, I was honored. And I was-- and still am-- honored to have been part of this group for about the past 22 months. As I told Lisabet when I signed on, I wasn't sure how it would go, whether I'd be able to keep up with weekly posts. But Lisabet was gracious in her acceptance of my possible limitations and so I became a Grip regular. It's been a fun ride, and I've written some stuff I'm truly proud of, but now it's time to say goodbye. For now, at least.

Basically, I've run out of time in my life to do all the things I want to do and so some things have suffered. The Grip has been one of them. Despite my best intentions, I started missing my deadlines, posting late or not at all, or finding I didn't have much to say on a particular topic (even ones I had chosen). I hate that I have to say that I failed, but I kind of did. Real life smacked me in the face and told me I had to back off of some commitments. Other things have been easy to cut from my to do list-- but it's hard to say goodbye to some things, and the Grip is one of them.

The writers here... I've been in awe. They blow me away with their insights and experiences, their memories and fantasies. There have been many times I've gone to tackle the topic of the week and read the previous posts and been floored, feeling as if I have nothing to contribute. They're good, this ragtag bunch of literary magicians. Really good. And it's been a pleasure to get to know them, to feel as if I've connected with them and made some new friends, to be challenged to push past my own limits and write more honestly. Whatever I've brought to the Grip (and I'll be honest, it doesn't seem like much), I'm walking away with so much more.

I'll return to the other side of things now-- reader instead of writer-- and be happy to do so. There are some new (to me) names being added to the roster at the Grip and I look forward to reading their words. Meanwhile, I'll be over here in my little corner of the world, working on my deadlines, returning to my own long-neglected blog ( and, who knows, maybe even running a 5k. And if I'm ever invited to stop by and guest post at the Grip, I'll say yes, of course, I'd be honored.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You'd be surprised at what I read!

People are forever asking me what I’m reading, and looking at me strangely when I tell them. I guess they think because I write erotic romance I read it all the time. Not so. I have my favorite authors, of course, but when I’m in the middle of a manuscript I need something totally unrelated so another author’s voice doesn’t bleed into mine.
So what, you ask, do I actually read?
Well, I’ve just finished Waiting For Love, Book 8 in Marie Force’s McCarthy’s of Gansett Island series. This is the story of Adam McCarthy, one of the brothers, and a woman returning to the island after her second romance has exploded. I found this series when Maid For Love, the first book, was offered free on BookBub, and have devoured them all. They are great contemporary romances, both intense and light-hearted and have kept me going on me treadmill for weeks.
I just finished reading Black List by Brad Thor. Talk about a change of pace. Brad writes intense political thrillers that are very much into the current global scene. His books are thoroughly researched and cleanly written and keep me up far too late at night. I just wish he’d find the right woman for his hero, Scot Harvath. What can I say? I’m a romantic!
I also read very dark suspense by Lisa Garner. She’s is such an excellent writer but her books are not for the faint of heart, She really digs into the underbelly of society and not everything ends up neatly packaged. But she does eventually gives her main protagonists happy endings so I can survive the rest of it.
And of course there’s Robyn Carr. What can I say? I got hooked on the Virgin River series when Robyn spoke to my RWA chapter the year the first three books came out. I’ve bought every one since then. Her latest, My Kind of Christmas, has such a heartwarming ending I read the last two chapters ten times.
So when I’m not heavy into my hot sweaty bodies and the intricacies of erotic sex, my mind wanders through the alleyways of the world where danger lurks and in heartwarming stories loaded with sentimentality. That’s my addiction. A hunger I can’t feed fast enough.
And I’m sure I’ll keep doing it!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Final Page

by Kathleen Bradean

This is my final post for Oh Get a Grip. it's been fun, but it's time to move on. The subjects have been interesting to explore and I love seeing what the others had to say. I'd like to thank my fellow Grippers for interesting insights and discussions, and thank readers who commented on my posts. 
Novels are the main reason I'm leaving. I'm writing two a year and that's all I have time to do anymore. It looks as if the new crew (and the remaining folks) will be an interesting group. I plan to check in to see what they have to say in the future.

I've written erotic for ten years. It's been a decade of wild change. This sounds like gramps on the porch, but I remember when agents wouldn't represent erotica writers and no one took our work seriously. It was trash. It was what you wrote only if you were desperate to be published. It was morally wrong. And that's only what writers in other genres openly said about it! They probably still do. And yet, the reading public has spoken, and they want to read it. The walls of shame are crumbling. The phenomenon of 50 Shades of Gray (FSOG) wouldn't have happened without the internet, fanfic, and all those brave writers who dared to write erotica long before it was popular.

I haven't read FSOG (I realize the topic is 'What are You Reading' not 'What Won't You Read, Ever') so I have not discussed it much, but since this is my farewell on a blog by erotica writers, I thought I'd say this about the biggest event within our genre since Anne Rice's Beauty series shook up the literary world: Books don't have worth. They have stories. Not every story is for every reader. I promise to try to be more understanding toward readers who like stories I don't. (and expect to fail spectacularly, but I'll keep trying)

As for what I am reading, I'm discovering Elisabeth Sanxoy Holding. She's amazing. But I'm also taking a detour through the classics of literary erotica. Perfume by Patrick Suskind. The Lover by Marguerite Duras, Delta of Venus by Anais Nin, Under the Rooftops of Paris by Henry Miller. I'll probably tackle Georges Bataille next or if I'm in a milder mood, Milan Kundera, or Paulo Coelho. It's a hard to define space, literary erotica, and it's dismally small. If you think of titles (Not The Story of O) please send them to me.


While I'm glad for readers and writers that erotic romance is gaining in popularity, as a literary erotica writer, I sometimes feel as if my niche has been pushed aside. That isn't exactly true. It's been overshadowed. But literary erotica has always existed perilously in the margins and will probably remain there. Literary eroticists have a small readership. I'll never enjoy huge sales, and there will never be a literary erotic con where readers line up to get my autograph. I've made my peace with that. If I wrote for money or a following I wouldn't write what I want to and frankly, FSOG aside, there's never enough money in writing to waste my time telling stories I don't like. So if you pick up something I've written, know that I wrote it for the pure joy of it. I hope it shows.


Somewhere between the clinical and the vulgar, there's a language of sensuality waiting for us. I addressed that (tried to) in my blog post Ephemeral Blaznous a few weeks ago, then found Anais Nin made a similar (and more cogent) comment in her forward in Delta of Venus. All these years later and it still doesn't exist. We may have to invent this language. Create it in your stories. Weave it into your tales. Write something wonderful. And write for the love of it.    



You can still find me on my personal blog,  or on ERWA blog for my monthly article Writing this Novel.

My erotic horror novel Night Creatures will be released soon (one way or another). Look for news on my blog.

Who Are You Calling Old?

In spite of some personal sorrows this past week, and these past months, I’ve been very lucky lately when it comes to reading.

My reading is often limited to books I’m supposed to review, either for the Erotica Revealed website— http://www.eroticarevealed — or for “blog tours” of anthologies edited by friends and associates. This doesn’t mean that I’m deprived in any way, just that I don’t get to choose what I read, which is often a good thing. Some of the books I wouldn’t otherwise consider turn out to broaden my horizons considerably, not such an easy task considering how far said horizons have already been pushed and prodded over the years. But this month I was assigned an anthology with a theme so appealing that I wish I had managed to contribute to it myself, filled with writers I admire and many I’ve worked with.

Ageless Erotica was edited by Joan Price for Seal Press. I’m not going to go into details of the individual stories, partly because I haven’t finished reading it—my review isn’t due to be turned in for five more days, and then you can read it on April 1—but more because I feel like discussing the theme as a whole. I will say that all the stories I’ve read so far are excellent, and I still have such favorite writers as Cheyenne Blue and DL King and Bill Noble to look forward to.

The theme is, as the editor states right at the beginning of her introduction, “Older folks still enjoy sex.” My knee-jerk reaction to this was twofold, which is fair enough, since I do still have two knees, both original equipment, albeit somewhat cranky. My first thought was, “Of course! Why would anyone doubt that?” And my other first thought, which I’ll bet most of us share, if only subconsciously, was “But, well, how old? Do many people—okay, do I—really want to read erotica about it?” Then I read a few lines further to discover that she’s talking about “erotica by, for, and about women and men ages fifty to eighty-plus.”

FIFTY? Both knees, both elbows, and various other parts jerked in outraged unanimity. Fifty isn’t old! And then I remembered doing a reading in NYC with some year’s edition of Best Lesbian Erotica, and opening my turn by saying that I was there to prove that there’s life after fifty. Got some pretty good applause for that. And I remember considering doing the same thing about ten years later, referring to life after sixty, but deciding against it.

It’s a truth not generally acknowledged that our perception as to what constitutes old age keeps changing as we get older, hovering some distance beyond wherever we are now. For that matter, our perception of what constitutes sex may undergo a certain degree of adjustment. But age brings experience, and no lack of imagination. Where there’s a will there are many creative ways, and yes, the will lives on. The stories I’ve read so far in Ageless Erotica display a lively variety that rings all the chimes you’d enjoy in any good assortment of erotica, as well as playing some new, ingenious, and ultra-seductive tunes.

Now for a personal anecdote. No, don’t worry, not that kind. (That kind you don’t get for free.) A few years ago I was browsing in a local alternative/collective bookstore, vaguely listening to a conversation between one of the collective owners, who knew me pretty well from readings I’d done there, and someone else I’d seen around. They were saying of a third party, not present, “You’d never think she was forty!” At which I said, “Forty? That’s young! I’m way over forty!” The response was, “Wow, you sure don’t write like you’re over forty!”

I don’t remember what I said then, but I do remember what I wish I’d said, which was, “I should hope not! How much can a writer know at only forty?” It would have been an overstatement, and biased, since I didn’t start writing erotica until I was fifty, but there’s something to it, and the writers in Ageless Erotica prove my point.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Laidback Opening

This week, I have been mostly reading Resistance, by Owen Sheers. But I don't want to talk about that because although it's written beautifully and is about if Germany had invaded Britain during World War II, it's actually bizarrely and mostly about sheep.

No really. I think the author made a mistake. He shouldn't have called it Resistance. He should have called it How Some Ewes Die Under Snow, because that's largely what I remember from the book. Which is not really a bad thing, although I'm probably making it sound bad. It's just not what I want to talk about. I'm tired of sheep, now. They're really daft and sad.

So instead I shall talk about the other book I finished reading this week. It's by this nobody called Jay Kay Rowland or summat, and it's about I dunno some laidback opening or whatever. Goodness knows how he's managed to sell so many copies, when it's about small petty matters in small town England. Is he famous for somethng else?

I bet he was on some reality show, wasn't he. I Bummed My Dog or something like that. Who Can Fart The National Anthem? maybe, or possibly Why Is My Ear Like This? Though in all honesty, I'd probably watch Why Is My Ear Like This? I bet it features people with perfectly normal hearing appendages crying over flaps of skin that are meant to be there.

Sounds marvellous.

But anyway, back to this Jake Ralling and his book about small town life, which I am going to discuss completely irrelevantly of anything he might have done on telly, or without reference to any other books he may or may not have written about boy wizards. In fact, I think it's important to not discuss the boy wizards at all, because many people seemed to get very confused about the fact that none were in this book, even though it very clearly says in the blurb that the presence of such in a deeply real small town rural setting would be absolutely insane.

I kind of wonder if people were hoping Parish Council is actually code for Witch's Coven. And if they were, they are massive fools.

But enough about fools and sudden inexplicable magic in a book that isn't about that. Onto what it very clearly is about: the petty evils that live in most people's hearts, excrutiatingly good character studies expertly crafted with an unflinching eye and a scathing pen, and moving themes about kindness and goodness and how they are what is important rather than being proud of your stupid little town and its trifling affairs.

It's a very good book. A book that hasn't been praised enough for its many, many unbelievable accomplishments, not least of which is this: JK Rowling wrote this after writing one of the most popular book series to ever exist. She wrote fearlessly, sharply, without worrying what people would think of its difference or how much they'd berate her for stupid things like "it has too many swears in it". And for that, I commend her with every power of commendation I have.

You were my heroine before, JK. You are still my heroine now.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Opening Up

posted by Giselle Renarde

A laser canon zapping the school? Maybe? 

When I was in Grade 6, book reports were due every other Friday.  We each had a small "cahier" (workbook) labelled "comptes-rendus" (book reports), and in it we'd write up a blurb about the book--the plot, the characters, whether or not we enjoyed it, that sort of thing.  We also had to draw a picture to illustrate a scene that best caught our imagination.

One Thursday evening, I realized... uh-oh... my compte-rendu is due tomorrow.  Instead of reading a book really fast and writing up a quick report like I'd done a fortnight prior (I read and reviewed a joke book--I kid you not), I decided... hey... there's no way my teacher has read every book in existence, right?  Why don't I make one up?

And that's what I did.  I invented a book.  I made up a title, made up the characters, made up the plot.  Everything.

Luckily, for my first post here at Oh Get a Grip, I don't have to do that.  Not that I would, as an adult.  Let's hope I've learned a little something from past indescretions.  Even if they earned me an A+.  Not that I'm bragging...

The book that is the current apple of my eye is Tristan Taormino's "Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships."

It's a real book.  I didn't make it up.  See?

And thank goodness Opening Up is real, because it needs to exist.  I bought the book as a poly-minded person who happens not to lead a very poly life.  If you know me, you know I have one girlfriend (I refer to her as Sweet, online).  Neither of us is really in the market for additions to our couplehood at the moment, but we're not opposed to the idea of sharing our lives with others... in the future... if we wanted to.  It's a not-right-now-but-maybe-someday sort of thing.

Why did I buy a copy of Opening Up?  Well, I've never been a fan of monogamy as a concept.  I don't have a problem with people making an informed decision to be with one person and only one person til death do us part, but I don't feel like people have a good sense of their options.  That's why there's so much cheating in the world--much more than the general population admits to.  I know things.  I was mistress to a married man for ten years of my life.  A lot of people feel trapped in marriage, and don't want to divorce for whatever reason.

It's easy to demonize the unfaithful, but what's the alternative to adultery?  Well, read Tristan's book.  There are plenty of models for open relationship, and she addresses them with knowledge and deft.  I particularly appreciate that she doesn't focus solely on poly for the purpose of sexual variety, but that she broadens the scope and includes platonic models, which I particularly appreciate.

Opening Up is not a book about finding new people to sleep with.  Well, that's part of it, inasmuch as sex part of many relationships, but more than that, it's a book about mindfulness--about being self-aware, being sensitive to partners' emotions, and addressing our own adverse feelings when they pop up.

In fact, one of the main reasons I bought a copy of Opening Up was that I had a suspicion it would address jealousy.  And it does.  There's a whole chapter on jealousy.  Tristan even breaks it down into components:

Jealousy is really an umbrella term for a constellation of feelings including envy, competitiveness, insecurity, inadequacy, possessiveness, fear of abandonment, feeling unloved, and feeling left out. (Opening Up, pg 156)

For me, though I'm not nearly as jealous as I was in my younger years, the green-eyed monster still rears its head in every relationship.  Actually, I've realized that, even in my mid-thirties, I still feel a multitude of child-like jealousy-related emotions with respect to family members (ie. feeling jealous that my mother invited my sister on a vacation, but didn't invite me).  Jealousy and other strong emotions might be more at the surface of open relationships, but they are present, for most people, even beyond romantic relationships. 

Since I started reading Opening Up, I've noticed more mindfulness and recognition of emotions, and I find I'm better at dealing with the feelings in Tristan's jealousy constellation.  For that reason alone, I would recommend Opening Up to anyone.

I would further recommend it because there's so much misunderstanding and lack of respect for the poly mindset.  Even when I was in Grade 6 and faking book reports, it already seemed strange to me that two people could get married, but three or four couldn't.  Maybe I'm somehow predisposed to appreciating open relationships, but for people who want to learn more, Opening Up is an absolute must-read.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

“Soon I Will be Invincible” : The Undaunted Optimism of the Wicked

" . .  This morning on planet Earth, there are one thousand, six hundred, and eighty-six enhanced, gifted, or otherwise-superpowered persons. Of these, one hundred and twenty-six are civilians leading normal lives. Thirty-eight are kept in research facilities funded by the Department of Defense, or foreign equivalents. Two hundred and twenty- six are aquatic, confined to the oceans. Twenty-nine are strictly localized—powerful trees and genii loci, the Great Sphinx, and the Pyramid of Giza. Twenty-five are microscopic (including the Infinitesimal Seven). Three are dogs; four are cats; one is a bird. Six are made of gas. One is a mobile electrical effect, more of a weather pattern than a person. Seventy-seven are alien visitors. Thirty-eight are missing. Forty-one are off-continuity, permanent émigrés to Earth's alternate realities and branching timestreams.

Six hundred and seventy-eight use their powers to fight crime, while four hundred and forty-one use their powers to commit them. Forty-four are currently confined in Special Containment Facilities for enhanced criminals. Of these last, it is interesting to note that an unusually high proportion have IQs of 300 or more—eighteen to be exact. Including me..

. . . I'm the smartest man in the world. Once I wore a cape in public and fought battles against men who could fly, who had metal skin, who could kill you with their eyes. I fought core fire to a standstill and the super squadron and the Champions. Now I have to shuffle through a cafeteria line with men who try to pass bad checks. Now I have to wonder if there will be chocolate milk in the dispenser and whether the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could with his life.

. . . I'm not a criminal. I didn't steal a car. I didn't sell heroine or steal an old lady's purse. I built a quantum fusion reactor in 1978, and an orbital plasma gun in 1979 and a giant laser-eyed robot in 1984. I tried to conquer the world and almost succeeded 12 times and counting. . . ."
Dr. Impossible  "Soon I Will Be Invincible"

An interesting resume.

There is a line in “the Lady and the Unicorn” when Nixie says “Oh yes, no one has faith like the damned.” Speaking of course of herself. Things like faith and courage have a way of perversely turning up where they should not be. The title of this book says it all. “Soon I Will Be Invincible”. We know without a prompt that this is a super villain speaking, a super hero would not have to wish for such a thing, it would be a given. No other character in genre fiction has eternal optism or hope like a comic book villain. Like Wiley Coyote in the oldRoad Runner cartoons, they always believe that this next scheme, this next invention, is the one that will put them over the top to world domination, and this in a genre in which traditionally there must be a happy ending of which the villain is defeated and the super hero triumphs. The villain wakes up in the morning, sometimes in prison, knowing he lives in a world where he can never win. But it is his faith to go on trying. This gives the bad guys like Dr. Impossible acertain, sisyphysian glory, a dynamic of faith that just winds them up each new day and pushes them past the prison walls knowing this time It Will Surely Succeed. Super heroes of the old school tend to be more smug, sure of their rightness and the purity of their motives. Consequently the villains, the mad scientists, have always been the more interesting to me, the more energetic and inventive as they look for that one special thing.

Modern super heroes and villains have earned a powerful place in our cultural mythology for exactly the opposite reasons they had in ancient times. The ancient mythical heroes were generally born to glory. Modern comic book heroes and villains are born of tragedy. Their super powers, or their obessession with acquiring power are born of the traumas that shaped and empowered them. Nuclear accidents, seeing loved ones killed, sometimes in front of them, injustice committed upon them, what ever makes them want to reshape the world as they find it. Its what draws us to them because of our secret belief that we could have shaped the world better and more justly if only we had been given the right tools. Because our private traumas have shaped and sometimes empowered us, we see ourselves in our creations.

The odd exception to the ancient mythical heroes have been the old Norse Gods, the Aesir. Of all the images of God mankind has concocted the Aesir were unique in that they were mortal. They were capable of making fatal mistakes, of being wounded, of experiencing pain and finally death. It was believed that someday all things would come to an end. This was essentially the only religion which embodied this belief about its gods, that they were not immortal at all. They embodied a kind of brooding pessimism that was a part of the soul of the people who invented them, a fatalistic, zen like absence of hope as Nixie explains to Father Delmar in “The Dying Light”:
“These old gods you see, they offer no one hope. They have no hope themselves. Jah, you see this heaven they have, it’s not the heaven of the Jesus and the Blessed Virgin. No. No, Father. These gods, they know they will die and being gods, it makes no difference, they will die. Like us. Even Wodin, he’ll die too. What they want, these old gods, is a good death.”

“Doesn’t sound much like Heaven. No hope? Just a good death?”

“It can be very liberating to have no hope.”

“So what are you telling me, what does all this have to do with you?”

“I’m like a Norn, who cuts the cord of the Fate. I’m a valkyrie.”

Dr. Impossible and those like him have the optimism of Wiley Coyote, the optimisim of the wicked.  No matter how many times the ACME safe or piano on the giant rubber band rebounds and crushes him, he always picks himself up and has a new plan.  The next plan will surely work.  Soon he’ll be invincible.  You have to love that.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Funeral Pyre of My Reading Habits

by Cari Silverwood

This is my first post on OGG and I’m thinking they may boot me out. You see I haven’t read a full book in quite some time. The best I could say I’d completed would be beta reads on stories by Leia Shaw, Candace Blevins, and Cherise Sinclair.

The rot set in when I first became a published author, about two years ago. I went from someone who read perhaps two books a week to someone who opens a book, begins to read, and then finds herself dissecting the writer’s style, plot and words. Or sometimes I simply become bored for no apparent reason.

I shut the book. Horror of horrors.

Now that’s not to say I’m not in-the-middle-of reading many wonderful books. I’m in the middle of the entire Game of Thrones series – the box set takes pride of place on my book shelf, and on a smaller shelf is another amazing book, Blind God’s Bluff by Richard Byers, and there’s a PNR ( I’m rarely in-the-middle-of reading PNR) by Carrie Vaughan. In my eReader, Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter is waiting for me, along with My Liege of Darkhaven and several other whimpering volumes.

They torture me daily.

I hear my neglected books whining at me. I know I should have read them by now.

I’ve been told quite severely that an author needs to read books to feed her/ his muse. Otherwise the muse starves to death. It’s a bit like cannibalism without the crunch of bones and leak of blood. You instead get crushed nouns and eviscerated verbs to swallow. Though the adverbs and adjectives I tend to squish under my heel before they scurry away into my brain. I’m cruel, I know.

Well, I was.

Now I ignore my books as best I can. I think I do feel the lack of new words. When you write a lot of erotic stories certain words seem to become too easy to grab – pussy, cock, and clit, and moans, gasps, and whimpers. I have a feeling that if I don’t cram some non-erotic fantasy or scifi into my brain soon, I’ll be left with nothing but a pile of naked people having an orgy in my head. And I’m sure that isn’t good for me.

Soon I will have another go at girding my loins and reading a whole big fat book.

I marked a stack on my Goodreads profile recently – Beyond Shame and a YA called Partials, and some time back in history, I marked another called The Windup Girl by an author with a name I have to copy and paste, Paolo Bacigalupi. These all look scrumptious. And they might remind me that there are other words in the English tongue apart from penis and writhe, lips, and well, tongue.

There is hope for me yet, as some books do still make me salivate. Just being able to remember the word salivate is a good sign…I think? If the day ever arrives when all that drips from my pen is drool, it will be too late. Well, strictly speaking it will drip from my keyboard but that’s too gross an image even for me. *shudder*

So I’m mixing up a new batch of metaphors, strapping on my caving helmet, getting out a hammer, and a bunch of pitons, and I’m going way down deep into a book. Wish me luck.

To welcome readers back to the new and improved Grip, we're having a contest. Everyone who leaves a comment during the next two weeks (other than Grip members, of course) will be eligible for an ebook prize pack of titles from a bunch of the Grip participants. Comment on multiple days and you'll have more of a chance to win.

So come on by and tell us what you're reading – or comment on what we're reading. (Don't forget to include your email address in your comment.) You might just get some free additions to your TBR list.

If you like, tell me your own sob stories about books you've read. I love tragedy. Dropping a book on your toe doesn't count. Something with blood will do nicely. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Labor of Love

By Lisabet Sarai

Welcome to the new Oh Get a Grip blog!

Okay, so we're not completely new – consider this an upgrade. We've fiddled with the format a bit, but the most significant change is the fact that we have expanded our roster of contributors, adding some of the smartest and sexiest authors on the planet. That way, we'll be able to offer you entertaining and thought-provoking posts every week day.

Our weekends are reserved for days of rest (or private frolic), or the occasional guest. If you're the sort of person who loves words and ideas, and you'd like to be our guest some Saturday, get in touch with one of us (you'll find our links on the About Us page) and we'll get you on the schedule.

We're sticking with the tried-and-true Grip formula, where each member posts on the same general topic, for a period of two weeks. If you're a new reader, you may be surprised at the variety of interpretations and perspectives that result. The common topic leads to a kind of dialogue that makes the Grip a rather special place.

For the next two weeks, our topic is “What are you reading?”

And what I am reading? As usual, I'm in the middle of several books, including a trashy French spy novel, dripping with sex, called Arnaque à Brunei, by Gerard de Villiers.I picked this up in a used bookstore, not out of intrinsic interest, but because I wanted to awaken my dormant French language capabilities since we'll be vacationing in France next month. In fact, the book's rather entertaining- though the extent to which my once-impressive French has evaporated has me a bit disheartened!

However, the book I want to talk about – rave about, really – is a new collection of erotica edited by Shanna Germain and Janine Ashbless, entitled Geek Love: An Anthology of Full Frontal Nerdity, from Shanna's own publishing company, Stone Box Press ( I don't think the book has been released yet. I have an ARC since I am reviewing it for Erotica Revealed. What a treat that is turning out to be!

Iremember when Shanna (one of my absolute favorite erotic authors) put out the call for submissions for this book. A lifelong nerd myself, I was sorely tempted to contribute, but life got in the way. From personal experience, I understand geek-appeal. Most of my lovers have been more than two standard deviations out in the IQ distribution. To me, mental muscle is far more arousing than the physical kind. Furthermore, being a bit of a social outcast has its advantages. Since we know we'll never “fit in” anyway, we geeks feel free to follow the dictates of imagination – including in the bedroom (or the many other locales where we exercise our libido). Despite the stereotypes (inexperienced and clumsy virgins) I've found that nerds tend to have powerful sex drives as well as a prodigious interest in erotic experiments.

So I really get the inspiration behind this book. Shanna and Janine offer a very broad definition of what constitutes a nerd. A fascination with mathematics, mechanics, or electronics – a love of books and the written word – a life focused on gaming, or comics, or creative anachronism – an obsession with science fiction (Trek-inspired or not) – coke-bottle glasses, good grades and interpersonal awkwardness – any or all of these can serve as geek credentials.

These variations on nerdity make Geek Love fabulously diverse, while still providing a general thematic unity. I am only about half way through the book (which includes twenty nine stories, more than two hundred fifty glorious pages), but I've already encountered a future where coffee is forbidden but BDSM can be ordered up in a hundred variations; a robot amanuensis lost in the desert; a secret society where those born to wear fur can play together; a female lab assistant who falls for the automaton her mentor is constructing; a AI librarian determined to seduce the flesh-and-blood woman who inherits her domain; a extra-dimensional civilization dedicated to rescuing gay men from the Nazi concentration camps; gamers and computer programmers, creative dominants and eager submissives, rock stars and rebels – all animated with that special spark of curiosity and intelligence that makes nerds tick.

This isn't intended as a review, so I'm not going to cite specific authors or stories. Suffice it to say that these tales are everything I personally seek in erotic fiction: original, gorgeously crafted, and seriously sexy.

Geek Love is more than just a collection of wonderful stories on a theme that resonates, though. The book is a work of visual as well as literary art. The four-page table of contents uses exquisite black and white photos of naked flesh, female and male, as its background. Scattered among the pages are erotic drawings (both color and monochrome) ranging from the comic to the sublime. (My favorite thus far is a luscious young woman wearing glasses, lying upon the open pages of a gigantic book, obviously pleasuring herself.) The first page of each story is printed on a background image somehow related to the story topic. Subsequent pages use a similar technique to remind the reader of the author and title.

I read most of my erotica in electronic form, mostly for convenience. Geek Love is clearly a book that cries out to be savored in print. I'll probably buy a print copy for myself once the book is released. I'm definitely planning to send it as a gift to a couple of fellow nerds who I know will appreciate it.

So how did this massive, complicated, expensive-to-produce book ever see the light? In a nutshell, the book was a labor of love. The Geek Love project came to fruition via a crowd-funding project on Kickstarter. The book includes four pages (in small print) of donor names. I want to personally thank them all. (I wonder why I didn't hear about the crowd-funding solicitation, since I definitely would have chipped in). Having put together a couple of anthologies myself, I know what it costs just to pay the authors a decent sum. This book also needed funds to pay artists and production designers, as well as to cover the higher printing costs associated with color illustrations. Geek Love is a small miracle, one that renews my faith in the world of publishing.

I'm reading the book slowly, savoring each salacious tale (though I may have to speed up if I want to finish in time for my review next month). I haven't enjoyed an erotic anthology this much is a long time. And I'm looking forward to holding a physical copy in my sweaty little hands.

Winding up this post, I realize that for me, at least, the Grip is also a labor of love. Every time I feel tempted to pass the torch to somebody else, or simply to close the blog down, something stops me. This is the third or fourth time we've reinvented the Grip since I came on board in February 2009. I love it too much to let it go.
I look forward to the posts by the other contributors, their insights and questions. These days one doesn't have that kind of conversation all that often.

Anyway, to welcome readers back to the new and improved Grip, we're having a small contest. Everyone who leaves a comment during the next two weeks (other than Grip members, of course) will be eligible for an ebook prize pack of titles from a bunch of the Grip participants. Comment on multiple days and you'll have more of a chance to win.

So come on by and tell us what you're reading – or comment on what we're reading. (Don't forget to include your email address in your comment.) You might just get some free additions to your TBR list.