Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WIP Wednesday: "Twilight of the Goddesses"

Are you an author? Would you like to tease future readers with a blurb about your current work in progress on a WIP Wednesday? If so, e-mail me at erinoriordan (at) sbcglobal (dot) net. For the month of December, I'll be supplementing WIP Wednesdays with Winter Solstice posts - it'll officially be known as Winter Solstice Wednesday - but I'd still love to hear about what you're currently reading and share it with my readers.

Erin O'Riordan: I'm offering the full (1,400-word) version of this post as a guest post in today's BloggerLinkUp newsletter. This is just a little taste.

"Twilight of the Goddesses" by Erin O'Riordan

Inside every woman there is a goddess archetype, according to the feminist classic Goddesses in Everywoman. Jean Shinoda Bolen’s 1984 book combined the psychology of women with classical Greek mythology to describe seven personality types. These goddess archetypes reoccur in women’s lives and in literature.

The women of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series are deeply in touch with their inner goddesses. Bella Swan, the human (at least until the fourth book) heroine of the series, has been criticized for her passivity, submissiveness and resemblance to a stereotypical damsel in distress. Yet the storybook cliché of the woman in need of rescue has a deeper meaning, a resonance with one of the classical goddesses of Greek mythology. From motherly Esme to the half-breed infant Nessie, the women of Twilight resemble five of Shinoda Bolen’s seven goddesses.

Alice ~ Athena

In Greek mythology, Athena was the warrior-goddess of wisdom. She was the patroness of great heroes including Achilles, Perseus and Jason. Alice Cullen has her own hero: Jasper Cullen, formerly a general in an ambitious vampire’s territory wars. Athena entered the pantheon of Greek deities as a full-grown adult; Alice joined the Cullen vampire coven not as a human but as a fully-formed vampire. Athena’s was also goddess of crafts; Alice has a talent for planning over-the-top, sophisticated parties.

Women who follow the Athena archetype always know what to wear. Alice has a distinctive sense of fashion and helps Bella choose outfits for special occasions. Athena women want to marry powerful, successful men; Alice is inseparable from Jasper. Wise Athena women go through life seeing clearly, but Alice does them one better: she has visions, literally seeing the future clearly.

Both images are in the public domain.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Best Parts of Breaking Dawn (Pt. 1)

I saw The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 earlier today. Be prepared for spoilers if you haven't read the book/seen the movie yet.

Everyone seems to either love this series or hate it, but I love it. I wasn't so into the first third of Stephenie Meyer's first novel, but by the end I was Team Edward, and I devoured the last three books in huge chunks. I think I read Bree Tanner the first week it was out. I've been waiting to see the fourth movie brought to the big screen since - forever, it seems.

My verdict is this: see it twice. See it once to enjoy the story and then once again just to take in the visuals. Director Bill Condon has made a lovely spectacle of Meyer's fourth novel - and how could he not? What could be more visually striking than a vampire wedding, glamorous with sinister undertones?

Bella's dress is gorgeous, with a criss-cross pattern in the front and an impossibly delicate gauzy fabric holding the pearl buttons in place in the back. Equally well-done was Bella's eye makeup, a blend of smoky colors. I'd award it Second Best Eye Makeup in a Vampire Series, because frankly I still can't get over how True Blood's makeup artist does Jessica's eyes. I love Kristen Stewart's chestnut Bella hair color, but you have to admit, Deborah Ann Woll's "Jessica red" is very striking.

The best hair of Breaking Dawn Part 1 belongs to Taylor Lautner as Jacob and Julia Jones as Leah. Their characters go through a lot of emotional pain and suffering in this installment, but it never dulls the luster of their thick, perfectly straight, blue-black hair. They must have either an indigenous beauty secret or a werewolf one.

P.S. Taylor Lautner, I predict, will play Tane in the movie version of Beauty Queens.

The eyes have Bella, but the best-looking lips (other than Robert Pattinson's, of course) in the wedding scene belong to Bella's Forks High classmate Angela, played by Christian Serratos.

Sarah Clarke, as Esme, deserves an award for her mother-of-the-groom dress. The combination of platinum sequins and plum accents neither washed out her pale skin nor made her look too matronly.
It makes sense: literary Esmes are well-known for their fashion sense. Consider only Esme Squalor of A Series of Unfortunate Events, with her stiletto heels that were, literally, stilettos.

The Most Reformed Character award surely goes to Rosalie, as played by Nikki Reed. Rosalie pissed me off in New Moon. Yet, as soon as I saw her ferocity in guarding pregnant Bella, she won me over. What an ode to sisterhood! Rosalie is like a feminist vampire super-shero, avenging sexual assaults and standing up to fight for Bella's reproductive freedom.

That should totally be a spin-off comic book series. Somebody run that idea by Stephenie Meyer, please. Said comic book should contain lots of gratuitous shirtless Emmett. (Why not? Boys always put girls with giant boobs in their comic books.)

Deborah Ann Woll: Thomas Attila Lewis, Creative Commons
Christian Serratos: © Glenn Francis,
Nikki Reed by David Shankbone, Creative Commons

Femme Fatale:

Speaking of style...Check out the couture collection - and daily deals - for men, women, children and the home at MYHABIT.

Literary Links to Love V

It's Small Business Saturday, so if you're buying books today, please visit a small, locally-owned bookstore in person or online.

The nominees for the 2011 Bad Sex Awards are in. Sorry, Stephen King. It's interesting to note that only two of the nominees have ever been women.

Of course, we all enjoyed Neil Gaiman's guest appearance on last Sunday's Simpsons. In the episode, Lisa Simpson struggled to get started on a YA novel while a team led by Bart and Homer produced a bestseller about teenage troll twins who go to school under a bridge. "I hope we put enough steampunk in...whatever that is." ~Homer

Love video games, but not the blood-and-guts, shoot-'em-up kind? Maybe the Jane Austen video game is for you.

Or maybe you prefer the Jane Austen fight club.

Jane Austen's Fight Club from Keith Paugh on Vimeo.

Love reading, but don't want to get roped into a series? Try these 10 stand-alone novels.

I'm probably at the movies watching Breaking Dawn Part 1 today, so I must include some blood-sucking links:

Vampire munchies: bleeding cupcakes and the Vampire's Blood cocktail

It's not even Winter Solstice yet, but Season 5 of True Blood is already starting to take shape. Joe Manganiello offers a few spoilers, suggesting the upcoming season will be werewolf-intense.

But what makes a good vampire? An Anne Rice fan sounds off.

Finally, having seen "Marry the Night: The Prelude Pathetique" followed by a preview, I await Lady Gaga's official "Marry the Night" video.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for...

This November, I'm thankful for the big things and for the little things. Most importantly, I'm thankful for my awesome husband/co-writer Tit Elingtin, my family, having a warm house and food, clean water, being able to read and write, having had the chance to go to school and freedom of speech. I'm thankful whenever someone reads one of my books. I’m grateful to live within walking distance of a library.

I'm grateful to live in the U.S., where various religious groups coexist peacefully most of the time. I was raised Catholic (it didn't stick), sometimes attend Episcopalian (Church of England) services, have one Jewish grandmother, observe the Pagan wheel of the year, revere a variety of goddesses and love Shiva. I cherish being free to practice the religious traditions that are meaningful to me. I cherish learning from a wide variety of philosophies and traditions.

At the risk of being labeled a crazy cat lady writer, I’m also thankful for my feline familiar, James the cat:

His face looks a little bit like a butterfly.

Every year at Thanksgiving time, I also like to take time to be grateful for the little things that make life so pleasant and interesting. There are many of them, so I could go on and on. In the interest of avoiding endless rambling, I decided to share just ten of my many, many favorite things. In no particular order, they are:

1 - Playing in the park with my nieces

2 - The music of Lady Gaga. It works well with many kinds of video, including the Powerpuff Girls.

3 - The Vampire Diaries Season 3. Pretty much anything with vampires, really. Or werewolves.

4 - Wuthering Heights (and its vampire version, Wuthering Bites).

5 - Green tea with pomegranate, pumpkin spice latte, and other hot beverages that make winter a little easier to take.

6 - Dark chocolate-covered cherries. Dark chocolate in general. Milk chocolate, occasionally.

7 - Draft Guinness

8 - The Simpsons. Maybe it’s because there’s a little bit of brainy, opinionated, nature-loving Lisa Simpson in me, but I like to have my near-daily Simpsons fix. Except on Saturday; that’s when I watch Futurama.

9 - The river view out my kitchen window, and the sound of the not-too-distant waterfall.

10 - Anything and everything having to do with my #1 celebrity crush, Christian Bale.

Have a blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving, and may you have many things to be grateful for. In case you don't visit my blog again next month, I'll say it now: have a wonderful Winter Solstice, a happy Hanukkah and a merry Christ(ian Bale)mas.

Now it's your turn. What's one thing you're thankful for?

Guinness photo by Aaron Keys, public domain image.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday with Teri Louise Kelly and Jesse V. Coffey

Are you an author? Would you like to tease future readers with a blurb about your current work in progress on a WIP Wednesday? If so, e-mail me at erinoriordan (at) sbcglobal (dot) net.

Erin O'Riordan: "Pucked" is out in Erotica, Volume 3: Four Hot New Tales of Desire, edited by Barbara Cardy. This sizzling brand-new short was inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's available on, too, but here in the U.S. the Kindle price is only $1.38!

Teri Louise Kelly: Journey to the Start of a Trilogy

It didn’t start that way.

It started as an idea several years ago about a serial killer called the Toolman. He was a hardware nut, killed people with nail guns and hammer drills, got himself wrapped up in torque. It was written as a short story, won an award I seem to recall. Then I left him there and went onto St Angelinas, an island – I had this thing about island life, it’s insular lifestyle and tainted bloodlines. Paganism, I wanted them to have burned blasphemers along a cliff headland – Bonfyre Night on St Angelinas, it was a big tourist drawcard. Dumped that too after sixty pages, moved to memoir, and then these past two-years I wrote a Spec Fiction entitled Cultivores (Released Dec 15), about life after a climate atrocity and I used both the Toolman and St Angelinas in it.

Which took me right back to the island and the two characters I’d left there years ago, Boogie Cane and Dana De Lalley, drunk journo and new-to-island homicide cop. Re-titled Pretey Deyde Gyrls (after the island’s hatred of the letter “I”) I’m reacquainting myself with mysterious deaths and weathermen who read poetry . . . it’s odd, but sometimes going back is better than going forward . . . and anyhow, how do you catch a killer that might not even physically exist? I love island life . . .

Find Teri Louise Kelly online at

Jesse V. Coffey: When I wrote the first book in the Brothers Cameron series, I had no intention of making it into a series. I really had no intention of writing a romance novel, but it certainly became one quickly. But to write more than one book? Never crossed my mind. Until I started describing the original story to a friend, and in the telling, one book led to another and the adventures in that book. Which led to another and the adventures there. I realized -- wow, I had a series. Three books, to be certain, but still a series. And now, several years after writing An Opportunity for Resentment, I slip back into this world of mine with amazing ease.

A Crooked Rainbow Trail picks up about four months after the end of Opportunity. Stephan and Jessica are still very much in love and plan to wed, but Stephan is dragging his heels in calling the banns. William has wed his beloved Mary and become the town patron in the place of his deceased father, but he'd rather be breeding horses and spending his days as a gentleman farmer. Old enemies resurface from book one and make their way into book two. Jessica's former love, Robin St. Thomas, finds out that her father's will states that she must marry within the six month after the man's death or she will lose everything. He's strapped for cash and will do anything to get his hands on her and her fortune. William's nemesis, the Irish mercenary/assassin Cieran Morris, wants revenge and he's willing to do whatever it takes to kill his enemy. So many lives will be thrown into turmoil...and death is around the corner.

Back into my world, writing this story has become a labor of love for me. I hope it pleases those who read the books. While you wait for this one, The Brothers Cameron: An Opportunity for Resentment is available on, Barnes and, and iTunes/iBookstore, along with any online bookstore that sells ebooks. A Crooked Rainbow Trail will be released in 2012, along with book three, A Wild Heart.

The way things are going, a fourth book -- as yet untitled -- will be out in 2013. I hope you'll read along.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Excerpt from introduction - Tao Song & Tao Dance by Dr. Zhi Gang Sha

Leave a comment with an e-mail address for a chance to win Dr. Sha's book! Contest runs November 21-24, with the winner chosen by on the 25th.

What if you could relax, feel refreshed and rejuvenated by spending 15 minutes a day with a 3 word meditation-like mantra?

In modern society, we embrace various aspects of Chinese culture from understanding Yin Yang principles to designing homes using Feng Shui to referring to Karmic repercussions within our lifetime, to employing "mind over matter" to get us through the hardships. Now, Dr. Zhi Gang Sha takes us to the next level by teaching us a 3 word mantra that is designed to revitalize our mood -- and can be done while riding to work each morning, or a midday "power chant" (instead of power nap) by saying these words, "Peace, Love, Harmony" for 15 minutes a day.

In his new book, Tao Song & Tao Dance, Dr. Sha teaches how people can create positive energy through songs. He literally tells readers that you can sing and dance your way to enlightenment.

Reincarnation is a universal law. Human beings reincarnate.
Mother Earth reincarnates. Mother Earth’s
reincarnation goes through a cycle of phases or eras. Each one
lasts fifteen thousand years.

Mother Earth is in a transition period now. In the last few
years, we have seen more and more natural disasters, including
earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, floods,
droughts, tornadoes, and more. Financial challenges and many
other challenges are deeply affecting humanity and Mother
Earth. Millions of people are suffering from all kinds of sickness,
in the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical bodies. Wars,
power struggles, greed—all kinds of unpleasant things are taking
place all around us on Mother Earth now.

You may be wondering why humanity and Mother Earth are
suffering like this. What are the root causes of the suffering?
What can we do about the suffering?
More and more people are searching for spiritual secrets,
wisdom, knowledge, and practical techniques to transform the
suffering of humanity and Mother Earth, in order to enjoy good
health, relationships, and finances.

There could be thousands of explanations for the causes of
the suffering. I would like to summarize my
personal insights in a one-sentence secret:

Bad karma is the root cause of the suffering
of humanity and Mother Earth.

Mother Earth is going through a special time of transition and
humanity is enduring great suffering because of bad karma that has
been created over thousands of years. War, killing, greed, corruption,
stealing, cheating, taking advantage of others, power struggles,
damaging Mother Earth, including cutting of forests, wrenching
natural resources from the land and the water, testing nuclear weapons,
pollution, and much more have created huge bad karma.
Karma is easy to understand. Karma is cause and effect. Humanity
has harmed each other tremendously. Humanity has damaged
Mother Earth almost beyond repair.

According to the spiritual guidance that I have received from
Heaven, Mother Earth’s transition could last another ten years
and become much heavier. The best way
to help humanity and Mother Earth get through this difficult
time is to join the hearts and souls of humanity in unconditional
service, which is selfless service to others. This will empower humanity to self-clear its bad karma.

How can a person self-clear bad karma? One must offer love,
forgiveness, compassion, and light to others.

Love melts all blockages and transforms all life.

When you experienced true love from your loved ones, from
your spiritual fathers and mothers, and from the Divine and Tao,
your heart was deeply moved, touched, and opened. True love is a golden key
to unlock any door in your life, in the lives
of your loved ones, and for Mother Earth.

Forgiveness brings inner joy and inner peace.

Think about all of your relationships. Think about you and
your spouse or partner, your girlfriend or boyfriend, your children
and parents. Have you ever been upset in any of these relationships?
Have you been irritated, angry, jealous, or had vengeful
thoughts? Think about other relationships—between companies, organization,
religions, and nations.

If unconditional forgiveness could be applied in all of these
relationships, peace and harmony would occur.
There would be no conflict on Mother Earth.
Forgiveness is another golden key to transform all life by
bringing inner joy and inner peace.

Compassion boosts energy, stamina, vitality, and immunity.

Compassion touches one’s heart and soul deeply. Compassion can remove
all kinds of blockages. Compassion boosts energy, stamina, vitality,
and immunity. Compassion is the third golden key to transform all life.

Light heals, prevents sickness, rejuvenates, and transforms
every aspect of life, including relationships and finances

Light is the fourth golden key to transform all life. A human
being needs physical food to sustain and nourish physical life. A
soul needs soul food to sustain and nourish soul life.
Light is soul food. Love, forgiveness, and compassion are also
soul food. Light can remove all kinds of blockages to transform
health, relationships, and finances.

Love, forgiveness, compassion, and light are the four golden
keys to unlock any door in your life. In Tao Song & Tao Dance,
I will lead you in many practices to apply love, forgiveness, compassion, and
light to self-clear bad karma and to transform every aspect of
your life.

There are ancient secrets for transforming karma and Master Sha introduces these secrets along with Soul Power:

• shen mi (pronounced shun mee) - “Shen mi” means body secret. Many spiritual practitioners use special hand positions called mudras when they meditate. These special hand (and body) positions promote energy flow within the body to remove blockages. Where you put your hands is where you receive healing, rejuvenation, and longevity.

• kou mi (pronounced koe mee) - “Kou mi” means mouth secret. This secret is to chant mantras. There are many ancient mantras that are extremely powerful for
healing, rejuvenation, purification, and cleansing karma. What you chant is what you become.

• yi mi (pronounced yee mee) - “Yi mi” means thinking secret. This secret is to purify the mind. To stop negativity and think positively, with love, forgiveness, compassion, and light, is vital for purification and clearing all types of mind blockages. Where you concentrate in your body is where you receive healing, rejuvenation, transformation, and enlightenment.

• soul power, which is a most important divine technique that the Divine guided me to teach humanity. Soul Power means to say hello through soul communication. Directly call the souls of buddhas, holy saints, healing angels, archangels, ascended masters, lamas, gurus, and all kinds of spiritual fathers and mothers to come to heal and bless you. Souls, including the Divine and Tao, are available if you call them.

Tao Song and Tao Dance: Sacred Sound, Movement, and Power from the Source for Healing, Rejuvenation, Longevity,and Transformation of All Life by Dr. Zhi Gang Sha. Dr. Sha is the New York Times Bestselling author of the Soul Power Series with Atria Books (Simon & Schuster). He was trained as a conventional medicine doctor and a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine. Dr. Sha is the founder of the Institute of Soul Healing and Enlightenment and is a grandmaster of many ancient disciplines, including tai chi, qi gong, feng shui, and the I Ching.

This is an affiliate link:

How to Meditate for Beginners: Tips and Trick Your Mind for Meditation by AssussA. $2.99 from
Meditation aims to focus and quiet your mind, eventually reaching a higher level of consciousness and inner calm. It may come as a surprise to know that you can meditate anywhere and at any time, allowing you to access a feeling of tranquility and peace no matter what is happening to her around.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia, #JunkFoodNovels Style

#JunkFoodNovels is a super-fun, time-wasting TweetMeme that publisher W.W. Norton initiated. Participants tweet the names of novels, with key words replaced with the names of junk foods. So, for example, A Christmas Carol becomes A Christmas Caramel, and Gravity's Rainbow becomes Gravy's Rainbow.

Last night I tweeted The Lion, The Witch and The Waffles. Upon further reflection, one could junk food up the entire series:

The Magician's Necco Wafers

The Lion, The Witch and the Waffles (comes next, of course)

The Horse-tess Cupcake and His Boy

Disney Princess Fruit Snacks Caspian

The Voyage of the Frosted Shredded Wheater

The Silver Chairry Pie

The Last Bottle Caps

Bottle Caps is a good one, by the way - it's a candy made by the Willy Wonka Candy Company, a real candy company inspired by the fictional candy company in a Roald Dahl novel!

If you want to follow me on Twitter, I am ErinORiordan.

Jill Robidoux, public domain
Evan-Amos, public domain (cupcake and Bottle Caps)
Julie, Creative Commons license

Postscript: If you love Hostess cupcakes, you might like to wear this matching cupcake-inspired camisole and panties by Backseat by Undergirl. (It's not the best photo, for you see, my college design notebook turned out to be surprising difficult to photograph.) Or you can add them to your collection of pastry-themed underwear and, on occasion, loan them to your superhero-loving rock star boyfriend while you wear his Superman undies.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Biography of Francisco Balagtas - The Unrivaled Poet Within

Francisco Balagtas was one of the most prolific writers of his time. He was a writer of romantic poems and lived in the Philippines. Many in the Philippines consider Francisco Balagtas as a comparable version of Sir William Shakespeare. Here is his biography.

The Early Work of Balagtas

As the youngest of four children of Juan Baltazar and Dela Cruz, Francisco Baltazar’s last name was later changed to Balagtas. He grew up in poverty, but despite this, he always found creative ways to broaden his knowledge. Whether it was the sound of a dog barking or the noise of a horse running, Balagtas would use these sounds to inspire him to write. One of Francisco Balagtas’s early works was “Florante at Laura,” which is a love story depicting the romantic days of Florante and Laura during challenging times.

His Education

Balagtas’s early education started at a Catholic school in Bigaa where he learnt the catechism and prayers. At the age of eleven, he went to Manila and served as a servant to a prominent family living in Tondo.

As a servant in his master’s house, Balagtas took advantage of the many books available to him while working at his master’s house by doing a lot of reading. When his master saw this dedication in his servant, he assisted Balagtas to pursue his studies. Balagtas, eager for the opportunity, grabbed it and afterwards, moved from being a servant to an educated multiple degree holder.

While doing further studies, his teachers Dr. Mario Pilapil and Jose Dela Cruz were pleased with his performance. Because of his education, Balagtas worked harder at improving his writing of poetry.

The Love Life of Francisco Balagtas

Sometime in 1835, Francisco Balagtas met the woman who eventually inspired him to write "Florante at Laura." Even though the relationship caused him to make many sacrifices, it ended in pain and suffering.

Still hurting, Balagtas continued writing his true love, which was poetry. He later married and the union produced eleven children.

Balagtas died in 1862; however, upon his death he left an array of comedies, plays and poems that not only thrilled the hearts of the Philippine people, but the entire world.

Author’s Bio:
The Biography of Francisco Balagtas is just one of the works of guest contributor Christa Blair. She writes for BiographyArchive.Com and has written several other biographies of famous Filipino heroes and poets.

This is an affiliate link:

Ballads: Reflections of my Heart, Soul & Mind by Marilyn Ferrell. $3.99 from
This is a compilation of reflective and inspirational/motivational poems and thoughts that touches on several aspects of life and love.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Ultimate Twilight Fan LinkUp Post!

I'm not usually one to join in memes, but I love The Twilight Saga. Want to link up, or just join in the Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 madness? Drop by Fabulous But Evil.


Are you going to see Breaking Dawn at the midnight release?

Hells to the no! I want to watch the movie in peace, not in a ginormous, super-excited crowd. I'll wait ten days or so and go in the middle of the week.

Team Edward or Jacob?

I love me a good werewolf, but in this case, Team Edward all the way.

Favorite character in the series and why?

Carlisle Cullen, because he's so noble and such a perfect father-figure for Edward. And anyway, you might think that Emmett would be the wildest one in bed, but I bet it's Carlisle, 'cause sometimes it's the one you least suspect.

(I know - Peter Facinelli doesn't really look like Carlisle unless he's blond. The photo is by Tararebeka, Creative Commons license.)

Why do you love Twilight?

My mom wanted me to read the first book because she found it so romantic. "It made me remember being young and in love for the first time," she said. I was bored at the beginning of the book - all the exposition - but by the end, I was completely hooked.

Are the books or movies better?

A movie is just a story snack, but a book is a well-balanced story meal. In my imagination, the vampires are even more sparkly in sunlight than they made them in the movies.

If you're a Twilight fan, please leave a comment with a link to one of your Twilight posts so I can comment back!

This is an affiliate link:

The First Bite Is the Deepest by Elisa Catrina. $2.99 from
“Funny and clever and emotionally hard-hitting” "A perfectly creepy read." Elisa Catrina's debut novel begins as a quirky send-up of vampire romance, but quickly turns sinister. High schooler Stella Ortiz starts dating the mysterious new guy, but her friends are convinced he's bad news: Sebastian misses tons of school, he day-drinks something that smells like pennies, and oh yeah, he's a vampire.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday with R.G. Porter

Erin O'Riordan: As I shared last week, the project I'm working on right now is the Sex Tales From West County series with Ken Charles.

Between the time I finish that one and January 31st, I'll be making edits to my short story "Sheep Shifter," in which an adult Alice returns to Wonderland with the help of Carl Jung, discovers a new ability and frees herself to explore her darkest desires. This one does not yet have a definite home.

I'll then be working on another as-yet-unclaimed piece of work, my submission to Melange Books' "Having My Baby" anthology. I'll be dusting off an old, but previous unpublished, short story, adding another thousand words or two to what, at the moment, is a rather brief narrative.

My next priority will be editing a short story called "Aftercare." Its destination is a Breathless Press m/m anthology called Ad-dick-tion Volume 2. It's the continuing story of lovers Maggie, Max and Joey, a triad I introduced in "Post Op," published in Indecent Encounters. The final editorial due date on this one is March 30th.

Then I can begin writing my alternative-history vampire tale for submission to the anthology tentatively titled Vampyres: A History Written in Blood. At the moment, I expect the historical vampire I'm going to turn into a vampire is Bessie Smith. She will be scheming to get a meeting with George Gershwin.

R. G. Porter: The call of the night drove her to find the truth…

As the darkness continues to crouch upon the lands, Danicayne's nightmares increase. Her visions of the future can't be denied and soon she finds she must leave the safety of her family and find the ones who are lost. It is their past that must be unraveled before the evil consumes the world.

Forced out by the only people he's known, Terrian finds himself on the hunt for the truth of his origin. Accidents and memories haunt him and uncontrolled outbursts of flame and ice are only the beginning of his problems. On the hunt to find out who he is, he awakens more than just what's been forgotten. He finds a mirror image of himself, as well the final key to end the darkness that threatens to engulf the world.

Two paths drawn together by a divine past and a specific purpose - to join the circle that will vanquish the evil once and for all…

Or perish trying.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Winner of the "Thanks For the Books Hop" Giveaway

I hope you've had fun with the Thanks for the Books Hop. According to, the winner of the Thanks for the Books Hop giveaway is...

Kathryn Merkel!

Kathryn, I'll be sending you an e-mail so you can let me know where to send the box of paperbacks.

I'm thankful to everyone who entered the contest, and as my way of saying "Thanks for following, for loving books and for supporting book bloggers," I'm giving everyone who entered the contest an e-book copy of Beltane.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Beauty Queens of Only 18 and Misery

I said that after I finished Justin Cronin's epic post-apocalyptic vampire novel The Passage, my brain would need a break from lengthy dark fiction. It's huge - and only the first third of a trilogy! Cronin, I think, intends to be to scary vampires what James Fenimore Cooper was to American Indians.

I said that my next book would be the more lighthearted Beauty Queens by YA author Libba Bray. Not entirely lighthearted - it does begin with the plane crash that strands the survivors, all contestants in a teen beauty contest, on a tropical island. But there is plenty of lip gloss and stilettos and snark.

About a third of the way in, I love this book. My favorite character may be Adina, Miss New Hampshire, a journalist embedded in the pageant. She's a smart, Jewish feminist - sort of a teenage Emma Goldman. I also like lesbian, comic-book-loving Miss Michigan (Jennifer) and Indian-American Miss California (Shanti). The whole thing is a delicious send-up of pop culture and sexism. The young characters are learning that their bodies are instruments as well as ornaments.

Sometimes when I see the cover sitting on the table, I think of the Maroon 5 song, "She Will Be Loved." Its lyrics begin with, "Beauty queen of only 18..."

Between the link I shared (previous post) about Adam Levine's superhero underpants and snatches of that song stuck in my brain, it's no wonder I had a sex dream about Levine last night. (Plus I dream about Adam Levine a lot, far more than I dream about Christian Bale. It's just like that Maroon 5 song "Can't Stop." I half suspect Levine is my Jungian animus.) Fair warning: I dream dirty:

I (my teenage self, about the same age as the characters in Beauty Queens) was in a sort of hotel that doubled as a 24-hour movie theatre, on a road trip with my Aunt Susan. In the morning, Susan told me to get ready to leave, so I went into the bathroom, and Adam came in after me. Soon we were dry humping - like Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher, only face-to-face. I was pleasantly surprised to find out his dick (through his black jeans) felt much, much bigger and fatter than I would have imagined. I told him that when I was home from this road trip (out from under the watchful eye of Aunt Susan, that is), we would have actual sex.

It's not actual sex, but the common consensus on YouTube is that the Maroon 5 video "Misery" is masochist porn.

Some of what the skinny blonde girl (she's Anne Vyalitsyna) does might be acceptable in the context of an S/M relationship. Some of it is just plain mean. I have sorted some of her acts into the categories of Go and No Go. I couldn't decide on one of them.


-Shoving him up against a chain-link fence


-Twisting his arm behind his back



-The knife play

No Go:


-Kick in the face

-Pushing him through a plate-glass window

-Throwing him off the roof

-The shoulder-fired grenade and the Molotov cocktail. I know Israelis use "to take up arms" as slang for sex, but in actual practice, firearms are not sexy. Blades are a little more so.

But that's just my personal comfort level. If you and your partner are comfortable with head-butts and face-kicks, I'm not judging you.

I'm being somewhat facetious, of course. Remember what I said in "How to Play a LoveGame in 5 Gaga Steps:"

"You’ve flirted with the BDSM look; now you might choose to kick the kink up a notch. You could try leather restraints, leashes, a body harness, a straightjacket, or another type of full-body restraint...If you’d like to try restraint play for the first time (or the first time with a new partner), use common-sense safety and comfort measures. Establish some boundaries and agree on a safe word that stops all play, no questions asked. Keep an eye on the person who’s restrained, and never cover up both the nose and mouth, especially when using a gag. Play delicately around the joints, face, neck, and other body parts that can easily be injured, and realize that holding one position for a long time can cause fatigue and discomfort."

Hmm, that gives me an idea. Maybe I should write "How to Play a LoveGame in Maroon 5 Steps."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Literary Links to Love IV + Patriotic/Dirty

Happy Veteran's Day!

Hopping by from the Thanks For the Books Blog Hop? Want to win a box of paperbacks? See the giveaway post here.

This is too cute: the Hokey Pokey, William Shakespeare style (sadly, a dead link).

Two of my favorite subjects: Roy Askham, the author of Edward and the Twisted Queens (historical time-travel BDSM erotica), writes a blog called Sex and the Spiritual Life (defunct).

The female-empowerment blog The New Scheherazades featured a book called What Women Know by Michelle Jackson and Dr. Juliet Bressan. The authors are from Ireland. The book collects bits of wisdom women had passed down from their grandmothers and mothers.

Can I count set photos of The Dark Knight Rises as a literary link? Of course I can - Batman started out as a comic book! Christian Bale looks really hot on a return trip from Starbucks, winter-themed coffee cup in hand. See here.

See also this serious (but very interesting) academic discussion, "Building a Better Batmobile," about how Batman as a fictional character is portrayed between the two poles of the Gothic and Pop Art aesthetics.

I wanted to read Batman Vampire for a long time, but I never did.
Speaking of the Bale-Steinem family, Ms. Magazine founder/feminist icon and incidentally Christian's stepmom Gloria Steinem recently weighed in on the Victoria's Secret fashion show. She says, "Women's bodies are not just ornaments, they're instruments." Read about it at The Cut. I wonder what Steinem would say about this blog post? It features male and female bodies as ornaments.

Speaking of the Victoria's Secret fashion show, model Anne Vyalitsyna, superhot girlfriend of Maroon 5's Adam Levine, revealed an interesting tidbit about her boyfriend: he collects men's superhero underwear. She likes to wear them to bed. This also comes from The Cut. Oh yeah, Levine definitely deserves the top spot on the Jewish Dudes I'd Most Like to See Lewd list - especially if he wears Batman undies.

Image attribution:
Adam Levine by BurtonTedder, Creative Commons License

Veterans Day Pictures, Comments, Images, Graphics
Veterans Day Pictures Comments - Photobucket

Veterans Day Pictures, Comments, Images, Graphics
Veterans Day Pictures Comments - Photobucket

Veterans Day Pictures, Comments, Images, Graphics
Veterans Day Pictures Comments - Photobucket

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WIP Wednesday Returns, with R.C. Beckom

Hopping by from the Thanks For the Books Blog Hop? Want to win a box of paperbacks? See the giveaway post here.

Are you an author with a current work-in-progress? Would you like to tease your work on a future WIP Wednesday? If so, please e-mail Erin O'Riordan: erinoriordan (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

Erin O'Riordan: I'm collaborating on an erotic novella with Ken Charles. Ken has two works - The Mercies of Cinderella (Feb. 2012) and The Naughty Ladies of Cotton Glen (April 2012) - under contract with Naughty Nights Publishing. His new series is called Sex Tales From West County, and there's a whole lot of spanking going on. Author Kathleen Grieve (the author of Dating 911) and I are collaborating with Ken on a new installment.

R.C. Beckom: R. C. Beckom tends to look at the aspects of the Black Communities and the conditions of the times there. He seeks to help the communities to be able to comprehend the situations that they find themselves in and hopes to help find solutions so that they are able to abide for the existence of their children of the future.

As a Black man, Beckom grew up ‘having to learn the ways of a society that he and people like him had nothing to do with putting together, but, would find themselves victims of it if they did not learn that society’s rules and regulations.

His stories speak of the traumatic events to come for a people captured against their will, a people taken from their native habitat for centuries and forced to learn things contrary to the sake of their very own being. It showcases the repercussions that will come from the mistreatment of humanity and discusses how forcing a people to submit to things that don’t allow them to be free in their actions and thinking only eliminates their ability to one day be in control of their own destiny.

R. C. Beckom is the author of the novel It’s Comin’/Trilogy - an intriguing story of how some black people came about to be in some of the present situations that some of them are founded to be in. In his book he present some situations and some solutions to some of those situations.

His book goes beyond the comprehension of daily everyday life. It defines conditions that needs attention immediately, things that most, but, not all will refuse or rebuke to a hear to, simply, because of the guilt that just may be founded in one’s own self. His book is not one to be put to the side, “THIS IS A MUST READ” (There will not be another book that approaches these types of issues published for at least another hundred years, so don’t miss out on reading the most truest tale of the century.) Get your copy now go to:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How to Get Published Before You Die of Old Age (guest post)

Hopping by from the Thanks For the Books Blog Hop? See the giveaway post here.

My route into writing was an unusual one. In my twenties, I worked as an investment banker – that was back in those sepia-tinted days when you could say that sort of thing and not be spat at in the street. The professional was financially lucrative but culturally impoverished, a trade most of us can live with, at least for a while.

Then my wife got ill. Not a smidge ill, a cough here, a sniffle there. But a huge, complex, life-threatening illness. So I quit work to look after her. (She’s a lot better now, thank you for asking.) Looking after her wasn’t quite a full time job so I started to write a book. I’d always wanted to, but now was the opportunity.

I wrote away for about twelve months and had a monster manuscript on my hands: 180,000 words, or a roughly 650 page book. So what to do with it?

I did some things right and some things wrong. The main bit I did right was to pick a decent idea. (You can read about it here.) I also edited that book relentlessly. When I thought the first 60,000 words wasn’t quite up to scratch, I deleted them and rewrote them. When a friend told me that I over-used commas, I went through the entire text and sorted them out. I was obsessive about getting it right – and, with writers, obsession isn’t a character flaw, it’s an essential part of the toolkit.

The main bit I did wrong was to submit my stuff to literary agents using what may well have been the World’s Worst Covering Letter. Because I was an investment banker, I thought I needed to pitch my stuff HARD, instead of just letting the manuscript do the talking. I sent my stuff out to 6 agents, got 6 rejections. Then sent the book out to another 6, this time and got 2 or 3 offers of representation. Finally I was in business. My agent auctioned the book, got a few offers, and we ended up selling the thing to HarperCollins, a wonderful publisher.

That book was my first. I wrote another four novels for HarperCollins. Then switched tack and wrote four works of non-fiction (including a book all about Getting Published.) But fiction was never too far from my thoughts and the first in a series of detective stories is coming out next year with Orion.

And after all that, how would I sum up my advice? Well, the first bit, the main bit, and the only bit that really and truly matters is simple: write a good book. Do that, and you can be a complete idiot about approaching literary agents and you’ll still get there in the end. If you don’t do that, then no matter how persistently you search for agents, you’ll never get anywhere. Writing a good book is by far the most important – and by far the hardest – part of the whole literary game.

After that, well, there’s no particular point in copying me and writing the World’s Worst Covering Letter. You could just write a short, simple attractive query letter. You could write a simple, well-presented synopsis. You could make sure that your manuscript presentation is half decent. (That first manuscript I sent to literary agents was printed in a 10 point font size – probably the most embarrassingly stupid mistake I made, even worse than my covering letter.) Getting these things right means that agents will have to take your work seriously. They’ll have to turn attentively to your book itself, which is all that you can ever really ask.

Additionally, you can be a wee bit sensible about how you choose which agents – and how many – to approach. More info on how to find a literary agent here.

And that truly is it. If you do those things and your book is good enough, you’ll get an agent. If not, that’s not because there’s been anything wrong with your submissions procedure, it’s because your manuscript still isn’t strong enough to sell. After all, agents aren’t looking to take you on because they love you or love your concept: they need to have something they can sell to publishers.

And if your book does get turned down but you still believe in it (as you jolly well ought to!), the next step is probably to get tough professional feedback on your writing. Now let me be clear here: I do have a vested interest. My editorial company, The Writers’ Workshop, makes money from offering editorial feedback to new writers. We’re jolly good at it and plenty of our clients end up with agents and publishers – but there are no guarantees. I’d never say that ALL writers should pay for feedback. Life just isn’t like that. There are some people for whom pro feedback will make all the difference; others who should stay well away. I can’t say, without knowing more about you and your project, which camp you’ll fall into. But still. You probably want to know the service is there, should you want it. More info about it here, if you’re interested.

That’s it. I’ve been in this game for twelve years and ten books. All the advice that really matters is contained in this blog. And if you only remember four words, remember these: write a good book. And if your memory holds room for two more, then try and squeeze these in as well: Good luck!

Harry Bingham is a bestselling author who runs an editorial consultancy, The Writers’ Workshop.

This is an affiliate link:

Celebrity Authors’ Secrets - The World’s Greatest Living Authors Reveal How They Sell Millions of Books by Stephanie Hale. $12.99 from
Twelve of the world's greatest living authors reveal their tips for writing a book that sells over a million copies in Celebrity Authors' Secrets. A must-have guide - filled with publishing and book marketing info - for aspiring writers, authors, publishers, editors, writing coaches, creative writing tutors and anyone who loves books. Find out how to make your book stand out from the masses!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Buy This Book: Strange Love

The latest special anthology from eXcessica Publishing is titled Strange Love, and you can get it now for $3.99.

The Official Blurb: This world is full of the strange and unusual, from shapeshifters to anthropomorphic characters to genies to robots - check out these stories of unconventional love from the authors at Excessica! Strange never seemed so hot before!

Stories by Morgan Sierra, Elliott Mabeuse, D.B. Story, Wynter O’Reilly, Sam Kepfield, Amicus, Annette Gisby, Erin O’Riordan, Bekki Lynn, Jennifer Campbell, Saskia Walker, Sommer Marsden, M.E. Hydra, Madeleine Drake, and Kiera Thomas.

My contribution is "Angels Would Fall," a brand-new paranormal M/M erotic romance never previously published. Well, sort of male/male; one of the lovers is an angel. It begins thus:

"The angel moved through the garden, disguised as the wind. Father Diego Alba, knelt on a bright green pad in front of the peas, concentrating on the weeding. He noticed the fragrance from the delicately pink blossoms, but paid little mind to the breeze carrying its scent, even as the breeze ruffled Diego’s dark auburn hair.

"It was still early, and the heat of the day was just beginning to bother Diego. He scanned the bed of peas again, making sure he hadn’t left any weeds behind, then swept the pile of pulled weeds into his hands and deposited them on the compost heap. He shook the loose dirt from his hands, then went inside the rectory.

"The angel followed him, first as the warm wind, and then in the intimate fashion to which the angel was accustomed, as the very breath Diego drew.

"Diego went to his small, plain bedroom on the rectory’s second floor and took off his work clothes, placing his gardening clogs at the foot of his bed. He had no masses to say that day, and so he dressed casually, in an off-white guayabera shirt and dark blue slacks. He owned only one other pair of shoes, so the black loafers were a given. He went to the sink and splashed a little water on his face, rubbing the back of his neck to rid himself of the last of the garden soil and sweat that clung to him."

The title was inspired by my all-time favorite Melissa Etheridge song:

(Yep, one of the angels in the video is Bob Harper, the trainer on The Biggest Loser.)

A priest, an angel and a very pure love. Get the book now and find out which other strange tales of love await.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

So You Want to Be a Writer We've All Heard Of

Hopping by from the Thanks For the Books Blog Hop? See the giveaway post here.

Jane Wenham-Jones is a novelist, journalist and presenter and the author of the Wannabe Books - two how-to manuals on getting published and becoming well-known. Below is an extract from Wannabe a Writer We've Heard Of?, available on Amazon or through all good bookshops. For more on Jane see

Bits & Biogs

You will also be asked if you want to include a dedication and acknowledgements at the front of your book and to supply an author biography.

You’ve probably been writing this stuff in your head for years but now you’re doing it for real, again, do think really carefully about what you want to say.

You’re going to be cuddling that book for a long time and with luck it will be in print for years to come. It is therefore worth checking anything that’s going to be between its covers for cringe factor before whizzing off the copy.

Thank you Kevin ‘scrumptious bottom’ Pratt for being there, reading the 345 drafts of my manuscript and spoon-feeding me baked beans in bed when my typing elbow was at its worst… might be a precise summing up of your predilections now, but could make your toes curl when you’ve very sensibly dumped Kevin and are married to Brian.

The author bio deserves careful thought too. This will not only be used for the inside of your book to give readers an overview of your background, lifestyle and literary achievements, but needs to be interesting enough to persuade a few jaundiced hacks and radio producers that out of the 8000 authors of the 8000 new books hitting the market this month, the one they really want to interview is YOU.

Once you are a few books down the line, you can pad it out with lists of previous titles peppering them lavishly with descriptions like “best-selling” and “acclaimed” even if they sold three copies apiece and the only review you got was from your mother on Amazon, who, not having a an overly-masterful grasp of the universally accessible quality of the internet, ended with “love Mum” before reminding you it was Auntie June’s seventieth next Thursday.

But early on? When nobody has ever heard of you and your only achievement to date is forcing some poor sod to marry you?

Jane is a more than averagely deranged person who, having failed to scrape a living in any meaningful way, has written a book. She lives with her unfortunate husband and badly-brought-up children on the Kent coast, where she spends her time worrying about how she is going to fulfil her contract to produce the second one.

What do you do then?

Some authors, I have noticed, always begin with their age. Jemima Bloggs was born in 1947 and has since written 369 novels.

I studiously avoid reference to my own birth date unless push comes to shove when I lie with gusto. When my first novel was published I appeared variously in three different women’s magazines as 36, 37 and 38. I was 39 at the time and if you ask me how long ago that was, don’t believe the answer.

Non-fiction author Peter Brookesmith, who was once referred to as a “gun-toting lecher” by Private Eye, says the trick is to appear to be “an expert” on whatever subject one happens to be writing about.

Peter, who also has the distinction of being one of the more eccentric of my uncles (and believe me, in my family, that’s saying something) has written books on everything from Loving your Horse to the History of the Assassin and his author bios have followed accordingly, with tales of him with firearm in hand one minute and born in the saddle the next.

We are talking, therefore, marketing hook and a bit of back story. If the book is set in the theatre, then you say you were once an actor; if it’s the gritty tale of grinding poverty in the back streets then at least claim an impoverished past in which you and your six brothers shared the same pair of shoes.

At the same time, don’t forget the old maxim – know your audience. Remember that this description may well precede you wherever you go. And that describing yourself as an ex-stripper with breast enhancements may go down a storm at the Rugby Club but won’t necessarily hit the right note with the Christian Fellowship of the Society for Clean Living.

As an over-optimistic PR once said to me, make it relevant, make it heart-warming and, where possible, show you’ve overcome adversity.

In other words, if you’ve written a modern day Watership Down, make it clear that you’ve not only rescued an abandoned orphan rabbit and given it a whole new beginning, but later, it savaged you.

Whatever you write, remember that this too, will be around for a long time. Like the blurb, it won’t just appear in the book but on all sorts of promotional material and probably be plastered across the internet too. In my first novel the “about the author” begins:

Jane Wenham-Jones lives in Broadstairs where she walks by the sea and dreams of fame….

I can’t tell you how many times that has been recycled in the ensuing decade – seeming ever naffer every time I read it.

Unlike anything nice that’s ever been said about the contents of any of my books which I never tire of seeing repeated….

Wannabe a Writer Site

Buy links:

Amazon UK (paperback)

Amazon UK (Kindle)

Amazon US (paperback)

Amazon US (Kindle)

The Book Depository

This is an affiliate link:

Celebrity Authors’ Secrets - The World’s Greatest Living Authors Reveal How They Sell Millions of Books by Stephanie Hale. $12.99 from
Twelve of the world's greatest living authors reveal their tips for writing a book that sells over a million copies in Celebrity Authors' Secrets. A must-have guide - filled with publishing and book marketing info - for aspiring writers, authors, publishers, editors, writing coaches, creative writing tutors and anyone who loves books. Find out how to make your book stand out from the masses!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Appropriately, this WIP Wednesday falls on All Souls Day

Hopping by from the Thanks For the Books Blog Hop? See the giveaway post here.

Are you an author with a current work-in-progress? Would you like to tease your work on a future WIP Wednesday? If so, please e-mail Erin O'Riordan: erinoriordan (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

Ernest Shulman: A great upsurge in research on causes and prevention of suicide occurred during the last forty or more years, in many European countries, North America, Japan, and elsewhere, accompanied by several academic journals and numerous books. Millions of dollars and hundreds of commissions have been devoted to this cause, along with hundreds of hot-lines, organizations, and movements linking loved ones left behind by those suiciding, as well as other groups with common interests. Yet suicide rates worldwide have scarcely budged.

An established researcher, Ernest Shulman, with a Ph.D. in psychology, is preparing a book -- Thirty Famous Suicides -- using an original approach designed to equip laypeople with an understanding of suicide and what they can do to prevent it in those they care about. It features the analysis of the life stories of famous suicidal people who did or did not kill themselves. The book innovates by delineating the six stages in the lifetime suicidal pathways that end in self-inflicted death. One of the early stages is the development of pathological narcissism ("It must be my way or no way") and a later stage detailing resistance to suicide. Other stages follow accepted but previously unintegrated concepts. No other work on the causes or prevention of suicide deals comprehensively with these concepts.

Erin O'Riordan: While participating in the CoffinHop, I came across the website of David Ewald, whose book is called He Who Shall Remain Shameless. It's a rather remarkable speculative fiction concept, about a man who communicates with the spirits of dead. Some of the spirit characters are based on real people, some of whom died by their own hands. They include Andrew Kehoe, a Michigan farmer who used explosives to kill more than 40 people, including schoolchildren, along with his wife and himself, and Christine Chubbock, a 29-year-old news reporter in Florida who shot herself live on the air. I find the concept of Ewald's collection of linked short stories both disturbing and fascinating.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winner of the Pagan Spirits CoffinHop Giveaway

Thank you, Julie Jansen and Axel Howerton, for allowing me to participate in the CoffinHop '11. It was a blast! I met so many cool horror and paranormal authors. I didn't even know that horror poetry was a genre, but it is! The CoffinHop made my Halloween season and gave me some great nightmares.

With the help of, I have selected a winner. Drum roll, please:

Lizzy Ford of Guerrilla Wordfare

Now, for a chance to win a box of paperbacks from me, plus books and book-related swag from other bloggers, please join me at the Thanks for the Books Hop, November 1-14. Read the Pagan Spirits contest rules HERE.

What's Wrong With Mr. and Ms.? by Peg Tittle

Hopping by from the Thanks For the Books Blog Hop? See the giveaway post here.

I'm in this world, okay, and the people identify each other by sex. All the time. It's like 'Female Person Smith' and 'Male Person Brown' or 'Person-with-Uterus Smith' and 'Person-with-Penis Brown' – I don't know the exact translation. But sex-identity is a mandatory prefix. They distinguish males from females. Before they do everything else. Before they do anything else.

It bothers me. It irritates me. It pisses me off. I mean, what's so damned special about my sex that it has to be part of my name? Surely my values, my interests, my abilities, my character – these aspects define my self more than my sex does.

And anyway shouldn't I be the one to decide what parts of my self are important enough to be part of my name? Maybe I want to be identified by my ovaries, but maybe I want to be identified by my occupation. Hell, maybe I want to identified by my blood type.

The thing is, they consider it polite. Polite! To draw such relentless attention to details of my anatomy! In fact, they think that to call someone just by their name, without the penis/uterus prefix, is rude. So it's really hard to say anything. And it's even harder to do anything. I mean, I tried just saying "Dave" one time and everybody turned and stared at me. No kidding. I tried to hold my ground, but I heard myself say "Sorry, I mean, 'Mr. Brown'." And everybody smiled with relief.

I even tried variations once. I thought if I loosened up the custom a bit, it'd be easier to get rid of it altogether. Sort of like food that's dried onto dishes you haven't washed in a week.

Anyway, next time I put on my best smile and said "Dickhead Brown". Everybody turned and stared. Worse than last time. Again, I found myself saying "Sorry, I meant 'Penis Person, Male Person, Mr. Brown'."

Surely this can't be good, this obsessive marking of sex, this insistent separating of human beings into male and female. Talk about paving the superhighway to sex discrimination. I wanted to shout "Look, it's not like it has to be this way!" Why not just call people by their names, 'Dave' or 'Mary'? Too familiar for the formality-prone. Then how about using their surname, 'Brown' or 'Smith'? Too rude for the etiquette-addicted. How about an all-purpose sex-neutral prefix like 'Doctor' but without the professional implications; how about just 'Person' – 'Person Brown' and 'Person Smith'? As for the pronoun problem, they already have a sex-neutral pronoun: 'it'. But, stupidly, it's reserved for animals. Go figure. In this world, animals are accorded the respect of a sex-free identity, but people aren't.

(Thanks to Martine Rothblatt – The Apartheid of Sex, NY: Crown Publishers, 1995 – for the title.)

Peg Tittle
author of Shit that Pisses Me Off

Challenging thoughts about everyday things: casual day at the office, calling people Ms. and Mr., parenting without a license, flying a national flag, women’s fiction, drugs and sports, profit and loss, marriage, the weather report, hockey brawls, jury duty…

For every belief, attitude, and behaviour Tittle investigates (in a way that only a trained philosopher can), she exposes the often unflattering implications of endorsing that belief, attitude, or behaviour (not the least of which is that there is no reasoned argument one can give in support of, no acceptable, sufficient, defensible rationale for, the belief, attitude, or behaviour in question) and, furthermore, presents a great many counterarguments to those who would nevertheless persist – leaving the reader with way more to think about than the word count would suggest.

Philosophy with an attitude. Because the unexamined life is dangerous.

available in various ebook formats at Smashwords for $2.99
available soon at Amazon, BarnesandNoble, Chapters, and other online stores

Erin O'Riordan's review of Shit That Pisses Me Off: I liked this book of 25 essays, though it did get my feminist panties in a twist at the sexism that is still rampant, if you stop to think about it. Peg raises provocative questions: should people need some kind of license to have children? Should the court system use professional jurors? Many of her essays address the imbalance of power between men and women; also some tackle business, sports, war and the weather. She even explains why you're not likely to see Peg Tittle at Canada's version of an Occupy Wall Street demonstration. It's all thought-provoking, and whether or not you'll end up agreeing with her conclusions, her essays make for fascinating reading.