First, I truly could not be more honored to have received the Top Blogger Award from Romance Lives Forever for the month of November. I had an interview featured there November 10, and the award means that post received more page views than any other of the month (with the exception of the Top Blogger post itself, posted on the first of the month, and the post for a unique blog event in November that was in honor of Veterans’ Day). I really can hardly believe my post gleaned this honor, and I feel so truly, profoundly grateful to everyone who visited and/or shared it. Thank you.In addition, I also have a guest post up today at the remarkable Brit Babes blog, a site run by eight magnificent UK-based authors: Lily Harlem, Victoria Blisse, Lexie Bay, Tabitha Rayne, Sarah Masters, Lucy Felthouse, Kay Jaybee, and K D Grace. I am delighted to have the chance to
As I mention in the post itself, the topic I chose to write about is not new (either its existence or a response to it). But I’d found the topic in my consciousness recently and felt compelled to muse on what I saw as its implications. The result was “The Art of Perception: Sexuality, Society, and Realness”—and what better place to offer it, it seems to me, than Brit Babes? :)
In case I’ve seemed coy about the actual topic, my post deals with the response to the claim that erotic writing is not “real” writing. A very thoughtful friend of mine postulated the question to me in a theoretical sense—as in, how would I respond to it were someone to seriously ask me—and this post is, for now at least, my answer. :)
-from “The Art of Perception: Sexuality, Society, and Realness”
It is truly my honor to be appearing today at Beyond Romance, the blog of legendary Lisabet Sarai. Lisabet’s was one of the very first names I ever learned in the realm of contemporary erotica, as I ran across it in short order when I first discovered the Erotica Readers and Writers Association website, which could be considered a catalyst into my long-dreamed-of foray of publishing work as an author.
Speaking of catalysts, my post today on Beyond Romance is titled, “Conflicts and Catalysts: Exploring Self-Awareness in Story and Life,” and it includes a giveaway—all you have to do is comment, and you’ll be entered to win a $10 gift card to Barnes & Noble. :) (I’ll draw the winner Tuesday.) I am so grateful to Lisabet for graciously inviting me to be a guest on her blog today, (truly, I’m a bit awestruck to be there), and it was a pleasure to ruminate on the topic I did—namely, how almost all the stories in my two new collections, If… Then and Safe, have a “conflict” with the self at their core.
Hope to see you there!
-from “Conflicts and Catalysts: Exploring Self-Awareness in Story and Life”
I keep thinking I’ve posted this here when in fact I’ve only done so in my head. :) Regular readers may have noticed that I have been remiss in neglecting to post Recommended Reading for the past few weeks. Apologies! I, again, knew that I was planning to make a schedule change over the last several weeks and managed to forget to actually post my plan to do so.
So, with the addition of actions related to promoting my new books to my general to-do list, as well as a few other things, I am feeling that gathering my themed Recommended Reading posts has become something I have not quite had the wherewithal to organize each week. I certainly don’t want to stop doing RR, as it’s something I’ve really appreciated and enjoyed (and thank you so much to those who have followed and appreciated the feature!), but I am going to release the commitment of posting it regularly each week on Wednesdays. I will now go to posting it…well, whenever I want to (lol).
In all seriousness, Recommended Reading will no longer have a regular post time/day but will rather be posted whenever I feel inclined to prioritize doing so. As such, I will announce on social media when I do post RR since it will no longer seem predictable/regular. :)
Thank you again so much for reading, and be well!
In case you’ve missed my announcements on social media, I want to share here that I am delighted to be scheduled as the featured reader at the forthcoming November Erotic Literary Salon in Philadelphia! This will be my third time as the featured reader at the Salon, and I am honored to be invited as such.
You can find all the details about attending at the press release, but the quick and dirty is that it will be on Tuesday, November 18 (the Salon is regularly held the third Tuesday of every month) at TIME (The Bohemian Absinthe Lounge) in Philadelphia. If you’re unfamiliar with the Salon, much of the evening is comprised of open-mic readers offered five-minute increments during which to read. Anyone is welcome to read at the Salon as long as you sign up in advance.
As far as my time slot, I’m not sure yet exactly what I’ll be reading aloud, but I’m leaning toward dividing my segment in half in order to read an excerpt from both If… Then and Safe. I’m really looking forward to being there!
If you find yourself in the area, please feel welcome to join us! :)
-Sugarland “Stand Up”
Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for Sex and Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays (on sale now at Amazon and iBooks), the inaugural single-author book from prolific sex writer, erotica editor, and cupcake connoisseur Rachel Kramer Bussel! I am delighted to be participating in the tour, which you may find and follow along with here. In addition, Rachel is holding an in-person book release party on November 17 at Sweet Revenge—find all the details on that on the Facebook invitation.
This may sound far-fetched, but the fact is, the first paragraph of the introduction of Sex and Cupcakes captivated me. Intensely. Those six sentences resonated with me so much and struck me as so full of insight that I came to write this sentence down literally before I’d even gotten halfway through the introduction. Upon finishing the introduction, I honestly didn’t know how one could not find it electrifyingly intriguing. I certainly did.
Full disclosure: Rachel has bestowed upon me the honor, many times, of publishing my work in her anthologies. Exactly half of the stories in my first single-author short story collection, If… Then, were previously published in anthologies edited by Rachel. Three of the stories in my second collection, Safe, were. She has published me more than all the other editors who have combined (not counting, of course, the publisher of said brand new collections). I have loved working with her and am truly honored to have made so many appearances in her compilations.
So one could say I might find it difficult to offer a “fair” or “objective” review of a volume she penned in its entirety.
Perhaps. But one could also say that I have felt drawn to submitting to her anthologies and working with her because I have familiarized myself with and followed her work, much of which has included nonfiction writing for a variety of publications, and found it consistently resonant and compelling. That would be accurate, and I suspect it goes far in accounting for the enthusiasm and appreciation I feel for her first single-author volume of nonfiction essays. I guessed that I would like Sex and Cupcakes enough to rave about it, and I was correct.
Sex and Cupcakes is a compilation of nine of the author’s luminous essays in one place, offering a (luscious buttercream frosting) taste of her extensive examination of, as she herself puts it, “how ideas about sexual freedom impact our society.” In addition to penetrating explorations on universal themes of life, sex, connection, society, and various correlations therein, the author also delves deep into her own personal experience, offering memoir of a captivating and illuminating nature that, we eventually see, frequently harkens back to these universal themes and macrocosmic observations of social phenomena.
To me, “My Boyfriend’s Fat” exemplified this juxtaposition, gracefully weaving the author’s inner perspective on her intimate relationship with insights into society’s (astonishingly intrusive and, as I see it, relatively arbitrary) relationship with fat, adding in level-headed recognitions about how the circumstances of said fat affect her and her boyfriend’s lives. It was one of my favorite pieces.
I also found myself loving and strikingly relating to “Monogamishmash,” an essay that, as I experienced it, displayed a trait I noticed throughout my reading of Sex and Cupcakes. It is that Rachel doesn’t hold back from displaying her personal vulnerabilities and uncertainties in the memoir within these pages. I found this to make the writing more authentic, engaging, interesting, and relatable. I have the feeling she writes with not only a desire to express herself but also to offer connection to her readers, who may find things here to relate to, discover about themselves, feel relief about seeing in another. In short, as Rachel puts it herself in the title essay, “I hope … my books and writing have helped open other people up as well.”
Speaking of the title piece, which is, of course, called “Sex and Cupcakes,” it seemed to me to be the highlight of the compilation. This was not just because it is significantly longer than the rest of the essays but also because it offers a comprehensive glimpse into these two aspects of the author’s life that have become, somewhat unexpectedly, so pivotal to her everyday existence and her career. Their juxtaposition and the author’s presentation of how she experiences the professional, social, and personal implications of each not only makes for interesting reading but is also, as usual, filled with the incisive observations and assessments the author has established as characteristic throughout the volume.
It’s worth noting that in addition to the curiosity, contemplation, exploration, and openness Rachel offers in these pieces, she is also simply a skilled writer. Thus the content she provides is not only compelling to peruse but is noticeably complemented by clear, lovely prose to express it.
Never, as I interpret it, does the author presume she is speaking for or representing anyone but herself, which I find a grounding and ingratiating characteristic in almost any writing but particularly in memoir or social commentary. As she says in “Sex and Cupcakes”: “I don’t have all the answers and I don’t pretend to. What I do have is a curiosity about my own and others’ sexuality, about what turns people on and how those interests relate to the culture at large.”
Those two sentences encompass a summation of how I ultimately experienced Sex and Cupcakes: as a diverse collection of curious, probing, sincere musings of someone who is truly and unapologetically fascinated by sex. As one who has that in common with the author, this book was an endeavor I actively appreciated.
If you’ve ever read the author’s work online (and if you have an interest in relationships, sexuality, and/or memoir, you probably either have or will want to) and appreciated it, Sex and Cupcakes is something you’ll almost certainly want to devour as a comprehensive taste of the thoughtfulness, relatability, and insight she has to offer. If you haven’t yet been exposed to her work, I recommend this volume as a superb place to start.
In the title piece, Rachel says (accurately, it seems to me), “Focusing on sex as an intelligent point of conversation, as something lively, worthy and interesting, is beyond the pale for a lot of people.”
It is certainly our gain that the author is not one of them.
“There is a particular kind of venom that comes out when you speak and write about sex, whether it’s autobiographical or not. You reveal a vulnerability and tap into the dirty little secret of our supposedly sex-saturated, anything-goes American culture: that deep down, we are pretty prudish.”
-Rachel Kramer Bussel, in the title essay of Sex & Cupcakes