Sunday, February 8, 2015

Janine Ashbless: Cover Him With Darkness.

"The first time I saw him fettered there in the dark, I wept." Janine Ashbless

Above is the opening line of Janine Ashbless's theological erotic romance, Cover Him With Darkness. Is "theological erotic romance" a category? Well, it should be. Until then, let's go with paranormal erotic romance and hope Ashbless and others create a new genre.

Cover Him With Darkness concerns Milja who's in love/hate/love with a fallen angel, Azazel, whose misfortune parallels both Prometheus and Loki, depending on your preferred mythology. By the time Milja's father reveals the family secret to his seven-year-old daughter, that their family has guarded this prisoner for centuries, Azazel has remained bound naked to a rock underground for five thousand years. He is likely still alive because Milja's family have tended to him. Also, Azazel is an angel, which means he's not only more robust than humans but better looking, too. He's off the Richter Scale gorgeous.

So we now have a super-gorgeous naked angel bound by his wrists and ankles to a stone slab. I don't know about you, but that image works for me. It will last me for days, weeks even.

Likewise, I found something sweet, tender, and erotically charged about a girl, now aware of the family secret, who braves the caverns beneath her father's church, and behind her father's back nonetheless, to look upon and tend the prisoner. Things get touchy, of course. Moreover, Milja's father has made it clear they are never, under any circumstance, to free the prisoner. Divine Rule.

I enjoyed Cover Him With Darkness for many reasons. First, the author offers us a suspenseful and sexy page turner. The premise is genius. The opening pages cast a spell on me same way Azazel cast a spell on Milja from his compromised position on that rock. I also enjoyed a particular dream beginning on page 125, which we may as well call "Holy Smokes Hot." This one is burned in my  brain for future reference.

Thank you, Janine Ashbless.

What is most brilliant, however, about Cover Him With Darkness, is the story's moral ambiguity. I was never sure who was good and who was evil, and even Milja declares as much near the end of the book when faced with a decision. Azazel or no Azazel? She says, "I don't know if he's on the right side, and I don't know if he's a good guy," but she chooses her fallen angel, which feels like the right choice given what we know-don't-know: at the same time, her choice feels precarious. Love. It. Moral ambiguity to this degree makes the story and the characters involved complex and interesting.

One more thing. "Then his weight came down over me like the slow press of a mountain on the spaces beneath the earth." I dig this line so much as a parallel image, as extended metaphor, as lyric.



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Shanna Germain: Polite As Fuck

(From Shanna Germain)

A few weeks ago, the very talented erotica author Alison Tyler and I were chatting via Twitter about manners for creative business people on the internet. And then we got talking about creating a book about said manners (don’t let the hoity-toity literary magazines fool you with their articles about how fantastic book ideas come about over tea and crumpets; in my experience, the vast majority of great creative ideas are born when smart people with no filters imbibe too much alcohol or coffee or both, then get on the internet and start going, “You know what we should do?!” “Yeah!” “A book about manners!” “Yeah!” and then they write up a fake table of contents, going “Yeah!” and then suddenly the world stops and they’re all like, “Crap, this is good. We should really make this happen.”).

Since I don’t have time to write a book at the moment, I’m going to write a blog post. About manners. For creative business people. On the Internet. Because: You, as a creative person, as a business person, as a real live person of any walk of life, should know how to conduct yourself online (and truly, elsewhere too).

Read the rest of "Polite As Fuck" HERE.


Monday, January 19, 2015

David Hernandez: Martin & My Father

Martin was too peaceful for me.
He let those Deep-South dogs bite him
Police club his head
Suburbanites stone him
Cowards bomb his house
Firemen hose him down
and judges throw him in jail.

I used to pack a .357 Magnum
and if anybody messed with me,
I would aim, pull the trigger
and feel the kick of the gun
saturated in spic anger.
I wanted to kill all the racist pigs in the world
and marching peacefully
like Martin did, wasn't
about to do it.

One time while arguing with my father
I pulled a knife on him.
That night he cried himself to sleep
and I felt like an assassin.
The next day I heard that Martin
was shot dead and my heart crumbled
for him and my father.

My anger turned ice-blue hot,
well kept, on target,
proportionately forever and
it was on this anvil that
my pen was forged.

So I took my gun and knife,
threw them in the lake
and watched them drown.
Then I went home and while
my father took a nap on the couch
with the t.v. blaring about
Martin's death,
I kissed him with a poem.

And I'll tell you,
             That Martin,
                              He was something else.

©David Hernandez

Hernandez, David, "Martin and My Father"
from Unsettling America
Penguin Books, New York, NY.
Gillan and Gillan, ed
pgs. 349 & 350

Friday, January 16, 2015

Where the Grand Valley Vampire Holes Up During Daylight Hours.

White Hall, which caught fire under "mysterious circumstances" two years ago and remains partially standing although not empty. 


Monday, January 12, 2015

Happy Birthday, Bradley Cooper. You Just Became My Bang Butler.

Today, Bradley Cooper celebrates his fortieth birthday with a W Magazine cover and a career change. He just became my Bang Butler.

Background on Bradley Cooper. He's an American actor who also speaks French.

Background on the term "Bang Butler." I encountered the concept while watching the popular TV show, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, in which one of the characters, Frank Reynolds, claims he desires a "Bang Maid," also known as a woman who will attend to daily chores---domestic, mundane, and otherwise---and also have sex with him, a.k.a "bang him." Therefore, I lifted the concept of a servant whose duties transcend the domestic then altered the noun from female to male or "maid" to "butler."

Yes! Frank Reynolds is a dirty and politically incorrect old man.

Yes. You may come to your own conclusions about me.

Background on alliteration: The term, "alliteration," refers to a literary device in which two or more words in a sentence begin with the same letter, thus creating a repetitive sound, such as "Bradley is my Bang Butler." Here's another. "Alana is a nut job." (Oh, wait. That's not alliteration. That's a metaphor.) Here's another example of alliteration. ""Dexter Morgan is Major Monsta Mack."

List of Chores for my Newly Christened Bang Butler:

  1. Fluffing the cushion of my reading chair (daily, right after you start coffee and right before I get up.)
  2. Making coffee (daily, every morning by five a.m. Once it's brewed, present me with a cup where I sit in my reading chair with a fluffed cushion and the book of the week. This week it's Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.) 
  3. Meal Preparation (daily, although this can feel constant with a teenager in the house, and you want to make sure you make him a sandwich to take to school with him, Monday-Friday. Tip: no peanut butter: he's allergic. Also, spaghetti is his favorite dinner followed by salmon, mac-and-cheese, and hamburgers. Me, I like sushi and green chili burritos.) 
  4. Dishes (constant.)
  5. Vacuuming & Sweeping (three times a week with pets.) 
  6. Pets (CONSTANT. This includes but isn't limited to, cat box, dog shit collection and disposal, feeding, grooming, and walking the dogs when I'd rather do Hip Hop Abs instead.) 
  7. Laundry (constant, or at least it feels like it. Every Thursday and Sunday at least, and Thursday is just for towels, rugs, and bedding.)
  8. Trash (weekly)
  9. Yard (weekly during the summer) 
  10. Shoveling Snow (whenever it happens.)
  11. Warming up my car and scrapping the windows (most mornings in winter.)
  12. Car maintenance (as needed, and I hope you change oil.)
  13. Grocery Shopping (weekly, and God Bless You, I loathe grocery shopping so much.)
  14. Moving the couch (not sure why, but once in a while, say every six months, I decide I want to move the couch to a different location in the living room, maybe just to shake things up.)
  15. Driving me to-and-from campus the days I teach and hold office hours (four times weekly.)
  16. Carrying my backpack full of books, teacher tools, and endless student assignments (four times weekly and to-and-from four classes throughout the day.) 
  17. Putting an insubordinate and/or disrespectful freshman back in line (No worries. I GOT THIS.)
  18. Rubbing my neck, back, and feet after a long week of freshman (four times a week.) 
  19. Grading assignments (I'll stick with papers and final exams, but you'll pick up everything else, like discussion questions, reading responses, and quizzes. I'm sure students would appreciate feedback from a former Oscar-nominated actor, probably more than they appreciate mine.) 
  20. Wiping my whiteboards during class lectures (four times a week, at least twice per class.)

True story: I have, on many occasions, stood before a room full of freshman and commented, out loud, as I wipe yet another whiteboard clean, "Wouldn't it be nice if some polite and attentive gentleman followed me from class-to-class and wiped all my whiteboards clean?" At the same time, I've also commented, out loud, "And wouldn't it be nice if that gentleman was Bradley Cooper?" 

Wow, I forgot the bang part. We'll come back to this when I'm not so tired.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Joe Hill: NOS4A2

First, I must apologize to the two people I was reading this book with, as I tore out of the gate like an unbridled thoroughbred missing a jockey and blew through this book and finished it this morning. I'm sorry, Cora Zane and Neve Black. Please forgive me. NOS4A2 was just that good.

Next, I must thank my friend, Sommer Marsden, who wrote a review of NOS4A2 a while back and called it a "perfect book," thus earning my immediate attention.

I read Horns a few weeks ago and fell into huge writer love with Joe Hill, and am now deeper in writer love still after finishing NOS4A2. As a person who teaches creative writing, I feel it's my duty to tell my writing students if they wish to write well they have to read everything out there, but first they must read Joe Hill as he strikes me as the kind of writer who cares as much about craft as story.

From what I've gathered, Hill spends a couple of years writing each book and revises "the way Lady Macbeth washes her hands." (One of my favorite quotes from a writer ever.) Like Horns, NOS4A2 is a horror story infused with love. I experienced as many colds shudders as I did warm fuzzies reading this book, which isn't to say it's sentimental. It's solid and sincere. And everyone, Hill couldn't have rendered a better ending.

So many of Hill's characters are multi-dimensional, even minor characters such as Margaret Leigh, the word's most impassioned librarian and who reminded me of Roxane Gay once or twice because they both play Scrabble like a boss, and Nathan Demeter, the alcoholic but well meaning father who meets a gruesome end. (I cried when Vic found his body.) Lou Carmody is maybe my favorite underdog ever. What an unexpected delight to root for someone most of us turn into a punch line. Dude, I love you.

Joe Hill on a Triumph motorcycle and ready to take you across the Shorter Way Bridge. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Melissa Gilbert: A Tale of Two Titties

From Melissa's Mid-Life Musings

This post is all about breasts...or mammary glands...or whatever you call them...Tits, Tatas, Boobs, Bazongas, Gazongas, Ninnies, Fried Eggs, Bazockies, Hooters, Fun Bags, Muffins,Globes, Bosom, Cha-Chas, Chesticles, etc.

Specifically, this is all about mine because next week I'm having surgery to remove my implants permanently. The bottom line...or top line.. is that; A. I am concerned for my health and 2. I don't like the way they look or feel. Frankly, I'd like to be able to take a Zumba class without the fear that I'll end up with two black eyes.

Read the rest of "A Tale of Two Titties" HERE.