Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Monday, July 28, 2014

SHE TOO — an exciting collaboration

I've got a new book coming out! Not all by myself, though. WE have a new book coming out! Four of us: Helen Patrice, Leigh Spencer, Delaina Miller and me. Four friends, four poets, "four voices in (almost) harmony" as our subtitle says.

How did that come about? Thisaway:

Back in 1988 Helen read my poem "Universe Cat" and sent me a fan letter.  It was my first ever, and included a cat poem of her own. Touched, I replied. Shortly afterwards I met her at a writers' gathering. and that was the start of a long friendship. By now we have total permission to call each other on our shit, insult each other outrageously, demand to know intimate details of what's going on with each other (and get answered honestly), and request — and receive — all kinds of help or rescue at a moment's notice.

In 2008 Leigh and Delaina both attended a workshop at the University of Arizona and, as Leigh tells it, bonded afterwards over a 99 cent bean and cheese burrito the size of a football. That both were poets and feminists no doubt helped.

In 2009 Leigh and I both participated in one of the September poem-a-day challenges John Hewitt used to run at his Writers' Resource Centre website. I was enraptured by her writing, and at one point felt moved to hunt her up on facebook and make a friend request, accompanied by the message, 'I love a woman who isn't afraid to say "fuck" in a poem'. Then John Hewitt started the facebook group Free Verse for Fun and made both Leigh and me co-administrators.

Helen asked if I knew any online poetry groups worth joining, so I added her to that one. She agreed that the members are the real deal as poets, not the "bunch of wankers" she'd found elsewhere, and entered in with cries of relief. And at some point Delaina joined too, and we started taking notice of her words. We discovered we're all very much on the same wavelength. We're mad about each other, and about each other's poetry.

John Hewitt doesn't do the September challenge any more, but there are various April challenges in conjunction with National Poetry Month in the US (which, online, has become international). This year, after we all participated, and shared the results on facebook as well, Delaina suggested we join forces to produce a book of our April poems for 2014.

So we did, and it's been a lot of work — which has taken place in great harmony, all contributing according to our strengths.

We're starting to get it up on various ebook sites and are planning the virtual launch, with all sorts of goodies to give away to those who buy the book then.

Stay tuned for date and details!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Reading on a Screen: iPad or e-reader?

For people who own both a iPad and another ereader (Kindle/Nook/Kobo/Sony/etc), which do you prefer reading on?

Reading an Erotic Novel at a Late Age *

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1)Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed by Anna Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After I set up my Kobo Mini e-reader, I was surprised to see this title among the books synced from my desktop app. I didn't recall having purchased it. A title like that? Surely not! But it had been some time since I'd used the app. Maybe I'd just forgotten. Maybe it wasn't what it sounded like.

So I opened the book and started reading. I hadn't read it before (I definitely would have remembered) and it was not something I would have chosen to buy if I'd known what it was. It was an erotic novel. I now know (from the Kobo catalogue) that this is the correct term; at the time I was thinking "soft porn" or maybe just straight-out porn.

It's not that I'm a prude. It's that I would have expected pornography to be a boring read. I saw some excerpts from "Fifty Shades of Grey" online and thought they were incredibly boring, largely because they were so badly written.

This one isn't.

The plot is fairly unbelievable, but there is a plot. I have since learned from friends that erotic novels can be very lacking in story line. This one not only has quite a complex story, but it is also an historical novel set in an aristocratic milieu far removed from our present experience — which makes it easier to suspend disbelief in the improbabilities.

And the writing is good! The sex scenes are explicit without being crude or sleazy. Nor are they embarrassingly silly. In fact they're gorgeous, and very exciting. Not kinky like "Fifty Shades", though the hero does have one (fairly harmless) idiosyncrasy. For the most part the descriptions are of normal sex at its wonderful best. I admire and envy anyone who can write sex scenes well. I can only manage it in metaphor. Luckily I'm a poet, not a novelist, so that works for me. Erotic novels, however, need to be a lot more realistic.

"Seven Nights" was convincing enough to get me hot and steamy — and to remind me that I haven't missed out on much in that department, over the course of my life. It's good to realise that descriptions of superlative sex could be accounts of one's own unforgettable experiences! I'm grateful all over again to my excellent lovers.

I have since realised that Kobo gives you a free book these days when you set up a new e-reader, so that's how it came to be in my library. I have also discovered that they are now offering a lot of free books in any case — always the first of a series, in the hope that if you like that you'll buy the rest.

Yes, I do intend to buy the rest of this series! And soon.

View all my reviews

* The title of this post is a reference to a poem by Barbara Giles, with the same title.