Posts Tagged ‘cleis press’
It’s been a review and work month for books, but I’m still eager to keep finding those titles that are breezy-easy reads, that engage me fully, and that are extremely fun and satisfying to finish.
Here’s what I’ve been reading this month.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Partners In Passion: A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy and Long-term Love from Cleis Press to be part of the blog tour for this book, but I was immensely impressed. Mark Michaels & Patricia Johnson have penned quite a few books on Tantra, and they teach extensively on the subject, but I believe this is their first more general book encouraging sexual engagement and interaction for couples ongoing. Bed death is another one of those topics that I am fascinated in, so I was very curious what they would say and what they recommend. It is an excellent read. I loved how they portrayed Tantra in that chapter, and the many chapters on experiments for couples, keeping sexy times alive, and ways to work through your own internal blocks are essential and fantastic. I appreciated the extensive amount of gender inclusion, including some testimonials and quotes from trans folks in very respectful and interesting ways, and of sexual orientation inclusion, too—I worried Michaels & Johnson would be very heteronormative in their work, but it didn’t feel that way to me at all. On the contrary, it felt like they were over for dinner at my house and they were just chit chatting about the very real challenges that I have faced in many relationships. (But in a deep, personal, open, insightful way, not in a superficial chit-chat way.) It was much more than I expected and I think everyone curious about enhancing your sex life, and your connection to your partner, should read it, and every one of us who teaches about sex, bed death, and maintaining erotics in a long term relationship should look to it as an excellent resource.
The Big Book of Sex Toys: From Vibrators and Dildos to Swings and Slings—Playful and Kinky Bedside Accessories That Make Your Sex Life Amazing by Tristan Taormino is not a new publication, but it’s new to me. I remember when it was released a few years ago and I just didn’t have time to pick it up and check it out, but because it’s Tristan, I knew it’d be good, and I figured I’d get to it eventually. I finally did, and glad I did. It’s not so much a bible of all available sex toys (perhaps you want Hey, Epiphora for that) but it’s an excellent primer on the types of toys available and highlights of some of the very best. Since the world of sex toys changes constantly (which is one of the reasons it’s fascinating, and one of the reasons it’s frustrating), the book is not comprehensive—but doesn’t claim to be. In addition, it is about SO MUCH MORE than just sex toys—it has excellent essays on communication, experimentation, and owning your own desires mixed in, almost disguised under the premise of sex toys, which is extra clever and a really good entrance point for people delving into more creative sexualities. It belongs up there with The Good Vibes Guide to Sex and Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind Blowing Sex.
I was severely disappointed with Madison Young’s new memoir Daddy. I expected it to be the story of her life, highlighting the daddies she had along the way (as the back cover blurb implied), and including her rise to her pretty famous position of “feminist pornographer.” She wrote about her family-of–origin father, and her partner-cum-dominant-cum-daddy James, but virtually nothing was said about her feminist politics, and very little was depicted or delved into about the sex work and porn that she is particularly famous for starring in and creating. I thought the conflation of her “daddy issues” with her biological father and the daddy role and play that she and her lover take on was irresponsible and cliche. I would have hoped for something more in depth, more thought out, and more, well, feminist, in that it would depict power dynamics with awareness and consciousness and show personal agency. Maybe it’s just because I know Madison’s story has so much more to it than what was shown in this book, but the many claims (two of them being “feminism” and “the many daddies”) just didn’t deliver.
Shanna Katz’s book Lesbian Sex Positions: 100 Passionate Positions from Intimate and Sensual to Wild and Naughty was one of those review books I mentioned, that I picked up because I have deep respect for Shanna, and because I have a kinda quirky fascination with sex positions. On the one hand, having sex in different positions seems like a kind of irrelevant thing to teach or know about, but on the other hand, it is an amazingly popular way that couples “spice up their sex life” and begin seeking more in the worlds of sexuality and toys and kink. It’s also incredibly useful to know about sex positions for people with different physical abilities, be that from injury or disability, and often useful for differing size issues, too, both “my partner is a full foot taller than me!” and “I weight a lot more/less than my partner.” Also, someone (Megan Andelloux I think?) once told me that she believed there are only four real sex positions, and all the others are variations of those four, and I’ve been trying to figure out which four those are ever since. So I was curious to see lesbian-specific ideas for positions. I was disappointed by the skinny-white-girl depictions of the positions, though I think I remember seeing Shanna say that herself too, and that she didn’t have any choice, it was the publisher’s decision. It doesn’t highlight Shanna’s extraordinary skills around disability and size and gender-diversity, so the book doesn’t feel like a very good representation of Shanna’s sex educator smarts. Still, her introductory essay is great (and probably the best part of the book), and I think it’s fascinating that there’s a market for gift books like this.
I’m really into Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind by Sakyong Mipham. I devoured it from the library and then went out and bought my own copy so I could follow along with the stages of running (and meditation) that he talks about. I miss studying Buddhism—I haven’t found my place here in the Bay Area yet (mostly because I haven’t really looked yet). I love looking at running through the teachings of meditation, and I was moved, inspired, and curious about the ways he interweaves the two. He does say explicitly that though running can be meditative, it is not a replacement for a meditative practice—”running is not your meditation,” (I’m paraphrasing), “any more than meditation is your exercise.” This book made me want to run better and meditate more. Which is just what I wanted it to do.
I’m not sure what it is, but I have a small collection of funky queer coloring books. I don’t color in them (though maybe I should—I try not to treat my objects as too precious to be used for their intended purpose), but I seem to collect them anyway. I picked up the Sex Position Coloring Book as a review item because I am—what did I write up there?—quirkily fascinated by sex positions as a thing that sex educators teach, and I’m trying to figure out how it’s useful to my own teachings and workshops, particularly since I teach strap-on workshops so frequently. The book depicts only heterosexual cis male & cis female couples, but that’s one of the fun things about a coloring book: you could always add harnesses or other bodily modifications. In full disclosure: I also picked this up partly to inspire rife to possibly do some of his own coloring pages, maybe of sex positions even. That secret covert plan hasn’t worked yet, but I still have some ideas up my sleeve.
I’ve just finished Farm City: Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter this week, so it just squeaked on to this list. I have TWO beautiful big photo books about beginning to grow food in your (urban) backyard, but I haven’t quite devoured them because, well, I’m still so intimidated by the process. I moved into the house I’m in now in August 2013, and we spent the winter prepping the yard and getting it ready to plant and grow more things. Now that it’s spring in the Bay Area it is clearly time to plant things and start planning. It’s exciting! The options feel limitless! And also, eek! We do already have quite a few things in the ground, kale potatoes peas tomatoes pumpkins, and some herbs, sage dill mint basil, and a wildflower patch and a jasmine bush and a satsuma orange tree in a container, but I want to know how to do it all better and want to play in the dirt. So, in order to get myself a bit more excited about these kinds of ideas, I picked up Novella’s book. She had an urban farm in Oakland actually not too far from my house, so I loved hearing about the changes in the neighborhood and the local events. She raised ducks, rabbits, and even pigs for meat, and I will absolutely not be doing that, but in comparison it sure makes growing kale seem easier. I love how extensively researched she is—every few pages she quotes another book, another writer, another hippie back-to-the-land philosopher who came before. I’m definitely more inspired to get out to my own backyard garden and see what I can help grow.
I’ve been devouring some business books lately, and Start Your Dream Business was one of them. It, unfortunately, is almost completely about motivating the reader to follow their dreams and pursue that wacky business idea that you might have, and it is not at all about the nitty-gritty how to do it. In fact, often the business profiles completely skip that part, going from “I had this great idea!” to “and now it’s a 6-figure business!” Great, good for you—and also, how’d ya do that!? Regardless, I picked up the book from the library because I was interested in the premise, and zoomed through it because it included so many people whose work I’ve been familiar with online (like Tara Gentile and … lots of others I can’t remember now). Sarah Wade is UK-based, so many of the references and business owners are not American, which honestly made it even more interesting, since I am mostly familiar with American methodologies of entrepreneurship. I still don’t feel like I’m a pro at this whole business thing, but it’s curious and I am enjoying the learning.
I picked up Switch by Astrid Knowles because it’s in that BDSM-novel genre of power dynamic romance that I have enjoyed picking up recently, because I zoom through them and sometimes they’re kind of fun and mostly I can ignore the problematic gender/power alignment assumptions. This one had a curious class premise—that the dominant the narrator meets and falls for is homeless and jobless at the beginning of the book—but other than that, it was pretty fluffy and not very memorable. I ran into a quote from this book about switching, which is what turned me on to it in the first place, but I might have put the book down before I got to the switching part, or just didn’t notice it. The writing is less than average, so I often skimmed through chapters.
Um okay so that’s all I have to say about that.
One more sidenote: I decided at the beginning of March that I would do my best to NOT read online, and to read books instead. It was interesting—it took a lot of discipline, and I noticed how many times, over and over, I clicked through to an article on social media or via email. I didn’t realize how much I was reading online every day, and how many of those articles had so much throw-away content—not things that were actually enriching my life, or teaching me things, but more sensationalized what’s happening in the world things. So that practice has helped me both focus on work more when I’m at the computer and read more books, which has been excellent. I aim to continue that habit.
You can support my reading habit, and encourage me to read and write book roundups like this one, by buying me gifts through my Amazon wish list! (Did I mention it’s my birthday today?)
Or, check out more books that I recommend:
What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?
I’m obligated by the blogger’s code to let you know that the Sex Position Coloring Book, Daddy by Madison Young, The Big Book of Sex Toys, Lesbian Sex Positions, and Partners in Passion were all sent to me by the respective publishers as review books. My opinions on those books are solely my own, however, and they did not pay me or influence me in any way to write them. Pick up these books at your local independent bookstore, or, if you must, on Amazon.
Can you believe it’s the last day of February? I know there are literally fewer days in this month, but it always seems to zoom by, more than other months. Maybe it’s the beginnings of spring coming back and my eagerness for more spring. Fall is my favorite, really, but that baby-green color that the brand new leaves are? And the first signs—the magnolias, the crocuses, the daffodils? I love that so much.
Aside from it being a quick month, I traveled a lot. Which meant I did have some good time on airplanes and transit to read, but that I was usually using it for other things (like going over my notes for workshops). I’m learning that I can’t really multi-task effectively when I travel. I tend to think of the verb “to travel” as something I do in the background, and other things happen at the same time, but really when “I am traveling,” that’s sometimes all I can actively do.
(I know touring artists have said this kind of thing all the time, but it’s still interesting to discover for myself.)
So, this month, I read:
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. I picked up a few books by him because his work has been recommended many times over the years, and I thought it’d be an engaging, somewhat light read. This was the one I started with (though I did read Fight Club a while ago, after an ex of mine said it was her favorite book). I can’t say I liked it. At one point I tweeted, “I’m not supposed to like this main character, right?” I didn’t, but I understand he’s supposed to be an anti-hero. I guess I didn’t even like him enough for the anti-hero to work, I wasn’t that sympathetic to his stories and I didn’t like his level of manipulation. I don’t know if I’ll pick up another by Palahniuk. If I do, which do you recommend?
Then, because the first one was such an easy and fun read last month, I picked up Allegiant by Veronica Roth. Unfortunately, I thought it was the second book in the series, but it was actually the third, and because it’d been about a month since I read the first one (and it was light breezy skimmy reading for me, not deep attention), I was a little lost at the beginning but just went with it. I didn’t even realize until about halfway through the book that it was building up to The Big Reveal of the series. A variety of folks who saw I was reading this series recommended to stop with the second one, because the third was so bad; I didn’t think it was bad exactly, and the twist was somewhat interesting, though of course the science is not sound at all. “Because genes!” is not good. I kinda blew the wad with reading the third one second, so I probably won’t go back to the second one. Still, it was a fun read.
I picked up Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marsha Pessl because I read Night Film last month and loved it, but it was what stumped me. I was totally on a fiction roll until I started this one, and then it was just a liiiiiittle too dense and just a little too smarty-pants for me, and I put it down and stopped. I didn’t finish it, though someday when my attention span is a little better, I’d like to try it again.
After an absence, I picked up Switch by Astrid Knowles again, which I’d seen some smart quotes from on Tumblr I think and figured it might be a promising BDSM novel. Uh, not really. Thin and trite and not very good writing and not very hot. Still, it’s written from a submissive girl’s perspective, with a lot of dominant worship, so I like that part. Enough to finish the book, though not really enough for it to have made an impression.
I’m constantly in search of really good power dynamic writings, so I picked up two. The first was Protocols: A Variety of Views (Power Exchange Books Resource Series) by Robert Rubel, which was a disappointment. It’s a collection of essays from a variety of well known M/s and D/s folks, many of whom have excellent credentials and have been instrumental in the leather communities for a long time. I suspect that they as people are amazing, and that they have lots of great ideas that I would love love love to learn from, but they didn’t translate very well to these short essays. A number of the essays started with, “What is BDSM?” which could be useful if you’re writing an entire book about BDSM, but these are short essays on protocol specifically, so I suspect the average reader already has some knowledge. I would’ve loved more advanced ideas and less beginner, and more editing so that the writing wasn’t quite so clunky.
Along with Protocols, I finally picked up Erotic Slavehood by Christina Abernathy, which is actually two books together: Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual and Training With Miss Abernathy. The first, the slave training manual, is quite good. It is a bit elementary, a beginner-to-intermediate level, but I really liked the writing style, the knowledge, and the smarts of Miss Abernathy, and I don’t say that about very many d/s books. The second half of the book is a training guide with exercises, suggested readings, journal prompts meditations, and all kinds of things for a submissive/slave/s-type to explore. I loved it! I wish I’d read it before Submissive Playground, though perhaps it’s good because it could have been influential. I highly recommend it to s-types, and I promptly passed it off to rife to work through.
The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life by Susan Anderson … I don’t have much to say about this. I am still grieving, and on any given day somewhere from 10 to 70 percent of me is in some sort of despair process. I assume it’s temporary, I trust it will keep evolving, but it’s been hard lately. So I am trying to learn about the grief process, to lean on the teachings and helpers who have done this kind of thing before, and not just dwell in my own heartbreak hotel.
Sexy Sailors: Gay Erotic Stories edited by Neil Plakcy was so much more than I expected. Not just better (though yes, better writing than many of the other books I’d read this month) but also more engaging, more interesting, more fascinating. I’m not really into sailors or boats, but there’s a whole language associated with it, and in addition to the language, an entire men’s culture that is quite curious to glimpse into. And, I really liked all the cock-centric dirty parts. I don’t read much gay boy smut, but I think I should change that. I fucking love Cleis Press—any time I pick up an erotica anthology by them, it never fails to have high quality writing, dirty scenes, thoughtful characters, and so much sensual, smokin’ hot language (which is exactly why I pick up erotica instead of watch some dirty scene). It’s so good for sex geeks like me.
Last but not least, The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau. I was hoping this had business advice in it, but it reads much more like The Four Hour Workweek, which is useful for motivation but not so much for detailed infrastructure implementation, which is the phase I’m currently in. I’m looking to make some business decisions and studies in the near future, so I took a shot in the dark and started here. Not so much. But I’ll keep shooting—I have some other ideas.
If you have any book recommendations, I would love to know them! What have you read lately that’s been amazing? What do you think I’d love?
Little note: I use Grammarly’s plagiarism detection software because duplications, while sometimes necessary, are never as good as the real thing.
I read seven books in January! I’ve had such difficulty focusing on reading the past few years. I think at first it was because of my weird fogged-out grief-brain, but then this past year I think I was just out of the habit, going instead to my Facebook feed or Twitter feed or Tumblr feed if I wanted things to read.
I’ve also been realizing that the massive stacks of books that I read for work are sometimes really hard to get into and not exactly “pleasure reading.” While I love love love to read relationship theories and gender theories and gender memoirs & narratives and sex education things in general, I also don’t necessarily curl up with those before I go to bed. I used to—but I guess that’s the difference between doing that kind of stuff as a JOB and reading them all for fun.
So around the holidays, I put out the question to friends and started accruing a huge list of indulgent novels to try out and read. I wanted to start with some easy page-turners, those “unputdownables” that I bring to the dinner table and wake up wanting to read. I got some fantastic recommendations.
I started with Divergent, the first in a YA dystopian trilogy. The narrator, Tris, is in a society that measures by value, and at 16 they are sorted into the faction where they will stay. They do have some choice, but they also take an aptitude test to determine where they would best fit. Excellent premise! I was into it, and excited about the story, and devoured it quickly, but the writing was not so great. Thin and definitely plot-based. I would absolutely watch the film, though, and I may pick up the other two books in the series, especially when I need to remind myself that books are easy to read and I can zoom through them in a couple days.
Tiny aside: Do y’all read through a Kindle or Kindle app? I think it’s kind of fascinating that it tracks how many hours you’ve spent reading any particular book, and then it also tells you how many more hours you have to go in reading it. I don’t track time very well, I am coming to realize, so that was really interesting.
After Divergent, I almost picked up book #2 in the series, but decided to try another YA fantasy-type series instead, and I picked up Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. Holy crap, I thought that book was amazing. From the introductory chapters that normalize Karou’s strange life to her romance and the profound reveal toward the end of the book, I was hooked. I read the second,Days of Blood & Starlight, and then was so ready to pick up the third, Dreams of Gods & Monsters, when I discovered that it’s due out this spring! Noooo! So I picked up the #2.5 novella, Night of Cake & Puppets, which was charming and sweet and fun, and I am even more into Karou’s best friend Zuzanna. I hear it’s going to be a movie, and they are going to be big hits (if Twilight and Hunger Games have any precedence, which they do). I would absolutely cast Kenzi from Lost Girl as Karou, and if they cast anybody else I might hold a protest.
I took a little break from YA fantasy after that series, because I am not sure it gets better than that, at least for right now. So I picked up The Delicious Torment: A Story of Submission, Alison Tyler’s second in her recent trilogy. If you like Fifty Shades type of erotic romance fantasy novels, I highly recommend Alison Tyler. She’s the real deal, with actual experience and solid writing talent.
I picked up Night Film by Marisha Pessl on recommendation from an old friend, one whose fiction opinions I usually trust. I couldn’t put it down. It was more dense than the others I’ve been reading, but I got so deeply engrossed in the story of the eccentric horror film director and the narrator investigative journalist dead set on exposing whatever real horrors the director was up to. The strange cast grows, and I was so impressed with the world that Pessl built. I don’t usually read such suspense or mystery, but it reminded me of the years in high school where I used to read book after book of Christopher Pike and Dean Koontz. Maybe I should try some of their more recent books again.
That is precisely the kind of reading I’m looking for these days—something somewhat light, that I can devour, but with some magic underneath it that keeps me enraptured and entranced.
I finished off the month with Jeanette Winterson’s latest memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?. I have read almost all of her books, I think I read everything up to The Stone Gods, though I’m a few behind now. I love her intense writing, her experimental style, the ways she is obsessed with love. Oh, and this book, this book. This book made me want to go back and read all the classics of English Literature A-Z that she talks about discovering, it made me want to theorize about love and loss and the lost loss and healing and grief and how we can ever recover from trauma. I marked all sorts of quotes and cried and wrote things down. I had to put it down and read some of it slowly, connecting deeply to the amount of feeling she is able to convey. After reading it, I feel like I just took a big deep breath. It made me want to pick up many more things of hers, or to re-read some of my favorites, like Gut Symmetries and Written on the Body.
Thus concludes my January book roundup! Follow me on Goodreads and see which books I’ll be reading in February.
What have YOU been reading? Anything amazing lately? Anything to recommend?
This month’s roundup is sponsored by Grammerly. I will receive an Amazon gift card in exchange for that link placed up top, but they had no say over the content that I posted. So that’s only half selling out, right?
Top Writings on Sugarbutch from 2013
In order, from most read to least, these are the writings on Sugarbutch from 2013. Which were your favorites?
essay | Read the whole thing →
This post attempts to explain. journal entry | Read the whole thing →
I fist his hair and hold his hole open. “You know I like it when you struggle. I can shove harder that way.” He’ll learn to open up for me, to give that hole, to open up and take it, in time. Right now I don’t mind shoving it in. I work it in and out. So tight.”
Trigger warning: Daddy/boy play, rough sex. dirty story | Read the whole thing →
That image up at the top of this 2013 roundup post is the illustration Rife made just for this essay. advice / essay | Read the whole thing →
No wonder it’s a popular post, huh? Lots of good free porn. There may be more #pornparty -ing in 2014, we’ll see … review | Read the whole thing →
dirty story | Read the whole thing →
Especially friends from my childhood and high school years who have found me for whatever reasons on Facebook, and family with whom I’m not particularly close, and coworkers from previous jobs who I have perhaps never had this chat with: I have something to tell you: I’m genderqueer.”
The whole letter was posted on my personal Facebook account, where I tagged most of my childhood friends, work colleagues, and relatives. It was kind of nerve-wracking. And, it’s been amazing what conversations have opened up from it. essay | Read the whole thing →
Remember the open relationship mini-interviews? They wrapped up very early 2013, it was more of a end-of-2012 project. I still want to make them into an ebook. This interview with Charlie was picked up by The Stranger’s online newspaper, and got a bit of attention. essay | Read the whole thing →
journal entry | Read the whole thing →
dirty story | Read the whole thing →
It’s strange to not write it. This place has been my first go-to for relationship changes and processing for years, and it has always been a comfort to reveal and work through things in this way. The biggest problem is that as my audience has grown, the things I am exploring have changed, and many of my own edges are controversial.”
journal entry | Read the whole thing →
Trigger warning: Daddy/boy play, rough sex. journal entry / dirty story | Read the whole thing →
Favorite reads from 2013
It was kind of a bad reading year for me. I remember early on in the year, wondering why I couldn’t seem to concentrate on whatever book I was reading, and my therapist commenting on how much hardship I’d been going through, and how it makes sense that my brain couldn’t concentrate on other people’s stories. I think it was too busy rearranging to my new reality. Still, I missed reading, so I tried to dial down my books, reading things that were just easy rather than complicated or full of big thoughts. I read a lot of dirty novels, and poems, and tried to get through gender theory (and sometimes did).
These were the very favorites of my year. Things I couldn’t put down, things that changed my world view, things that were notable and I would highly recommend.
How Poetry Saved My Life, Amber Dawn; Excluded, Julia Serano; Dark Secret Love, Alison Tyler; Ask the Man Who Owns Him, David Schachter & david stein; Rise of the Trust Fall, Mindy Nettifee; Slow Surrender by Cecilica Tan
Real Happiness, Sharon Salzberg; Chronology of Water, Lidia Yuknovich; Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman; The Killer Wore Leather, Laura Antoniou; A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki; The Big Book of Orgasms, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
I keep track of books over on GoodReads, and so this list is based on my top rated books from 2013. I’ve put forward goals for the last four years on GoodReads, but I didn’t make it last year. I lowered my number again for this year, and am hoping to read more, now that I have more of my concentration back.
Most listened to music from 2013
Some are from 2011 or 2012, but I’m still playing them, or they’re new to me this past year.
I’m not going to put albums by Morphine, KD Lang, and Tori Amos on this list, but they were actually my very most listened to artists in 2013. They’re my top favorites I guess, I go back to their libraries all the time.
Aims by Vienna Teng (2013); The Haunted Man by Bat for Lashes (2012); Baby Caught the Bus by Clairy Browne & the Banging Rackettes (2011); The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit (2012); The Highway by Holly Williams (2013); Smoke & Mirrors by Brett Dennen (2013)
Last of the Great Pretenders by Matt Nathanson (2013); Weather by MeShell Ndegeocello (2011); Mojo Juju’s self-titled first album (2012); American Kid by Patty Griffin (2013); Coexist by The XX (2013); Wax Wings by Joshua Radin (2013)
I’ve been more into music in the past than I think I am now—I keep up with new releases less, and even listen to less music, moreso just going back to the artists I love and listening to my favorites. I still make a lot of mixes, though. This list is largely based on my last.fm account and my itunes and my brain.
Top posts of 2013 that were published in other years
Just in case you want more reads, and these weren’t enough to keep you clicking around the internet for a few hours, here’s some of the top posts on Sugarbutch in 2013 according to the number of times they were read, but they weren’t published in 2013. I’m glad that y’all still go back into the archives sometimes!
- The Three Minute Game dirty story
- I’d Like To Fuck Her Ass dirty story / journal entry
- Pumping: How to Grow a Dick review / essay
- Sugarbutch Star: blckndblue, “The Pink Dress” dirty story
- Ask Me Anything: Strapping On For the First Time advice
- Like a Faggot dirty story
- Ask Me Anything: Strap-On Positions When Someone is Taller advice
- Review: Packing Cocks 101 review
- “I’m kind of … insatiable.” My First Date with Kristen dirty story
- Review: The Tantus Realdoe review
- Her dirty talk got me off. Twice. dirty story
- How to take butch cock seriously essay
- Cock Confidence: Pack & Play review / essay
Y’all really like the dirty stuff, don’t you. Uh huh. Duly noted as I go forward in 2014.
I do actually have some resolutions this year … particularly, I have some resolutions for “blogging,” for writing here. I think I’ll go share them with the newsletter.
Comment Zen … Requests & Ideas
Oh hey! So you want to comment on this? I’d love that. Here’s some ideas for what you might want to say:
- What was your favorite writing on Sugarbutch this year? What posts do you frequently go back to, from this year or from other years?
- What were your favorite books from 2013?
- What was your favorite new music album of 2013?
- For that matter, I would love your favorite books or music recommendations of all time, especially books that are beautifully easy to fall into and stay up late reading, which for me is mostly really good fiction. But whatever you found yourself lost in recently, I’d love to know.
- What do you hope to see more of in 2014?
- Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?
That should be enough inspirational questions, right? Thanks for reading this far. I hope you found some good reads or some good musical inspirations.
I’m reading some erotica—along with Jen Cross, Carol Queen, Amy Butcher, Xan West, M’kali-Hashiki, Cheryl Dunye, BD Swain, & Jiz Lee—to celebrate the release of Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 this Thursday night. (Details here and here and here.) I’m so excited to have helped curate an amazing lineup, and I am now sacrificing all the luck I have to get a good audience to show up. If you’re in the area, come!
I’ve been thinking about “lesbian erotica” lately, how edgy it is, how valuable it is. There’s a bit of controversy around this particular publication of Best Lesbian Erotica, and while I have a lot of thoughts about that article, I still have a lot of my own feelings about how important lesbian erotica is, and how it helps on the process of building
one’s some people’s identities. (“One” here meaning someone FAAB who tends to prefer to sleep with other FAAB people, at least at some point in their life.) [ UPDATE: Katherine commented, "So, why don’t you feel that lesbian erotica is important to building the identity of trans-feminine spectrum lesbians?" And of course that's a valid point. I'm sorry to have excluded trans women from that statement, and that was an oversight on my part. I was trying to be specific, and ended up being TOO specific. It doesn't really matter who "one" is in that sentence above, all that matters is that some people use lesbian erotica to develop their own identities, and that's my point. It is valid for all kinds of genders and orientations, and I never meant to leave anyone out. I'll try not to write so hastily in the future, and be more careful. See my comment for a bit more of my thoughts. ]
I realized I wrote about my own experience with it, and why I think queer smut (“lesbian erotica”) is valuable activism, in my introduction to the 2012 Best Lesbian Erotica anthology, so I figured I’d share it with you here.
See you Thursday night, right?
Introduction to Best Lesbian Erotica 2012
I know what I want.
I knew exactly what I was looking for when I read the submitted stories for this anthology: dirty, smutty, smart about gender, smart about power, packed full of sex with the bare necessary descriptions of setting and context, and, oh yeah, good writing. It doesn’t have to be dirty in my personal favorite ways—with sultry accoutrements and costuming like stockings and strappy sandals, or with strap-ons and lots of fucking, or with blow jobs and dirty talk. I like stories where the characters are so turned on and lusty that I feel it too, even if it is not my particular kink or pleasure. I like stories with unique descriptions and rolling prose and insatiable narrators and rising and falling action. I like stories where I want to recreate the action for myself, when I am inspired by the delicious positions and settings and words.
Yes, and the words, let’s not forget the words. That’s what these kinds of books are all about, really. If you wanted a quick, easy turn on, you could load up any of dozens of queer porn sites—there is no shortage of real, good queer porn out there these days. But for some of us that is too crass, and a well-done turn of phrase gets us swooning and biting our lips and rubbing our thighs together even more than a dirty video.
I didn’t always know what I wanted. When I was coming out in the late 1990s, though there was a serious lack of queer porn in the video stores, there were plenty of people paving the landscape for what would become the blossoming queer porn of the 2000s. Diana Cage, On Our Backs magazine, Good Vibrations, (Toys in) Babeland, Annie Sprinkle, Susie Bright—and, of course, Tristan Taormino. It was Tristan’s 1998 Best Lesbian Erotica anthology that for me clicked something into place, something I could no longer pretend wasn’t there. I would hide the book in the back of the shelves at the bookstore where I worked so it wouldn’t get purchased, and I’d sandwich it between two others and sneak it into the stock room to read when it was slow. I wore creases into the spine with Toni Amato’s story “Ridin’ Bitch” and Karlyn Lotney’s story “Clash of the Titans.” I was genuinely confused as to why I liked these stories so much. What was this affect they had on me? Why did I love them so much? What did it all mean?
I began to find other books, short stories, and essays that helped move my budding baby dykery along: Nothing But the Girl—oh, swoon. That essay by Anastasia Higgenbotham in Listen Up: Voices From the Next Feminist Generation. Cunt by Inga Muscio. Breathless by Kitty Tsui. And the Herotica series, which was erotica for women before Rachel Kramer Bussel’s prolific erotica editing career.
I bought one of the Herotica books at a little indy bookstore—now gone—on Capitol Hill in Seattle when I visited one summer, before moving there. But it proved to be too threatening to my boyfriend who, enraged some night after yet another argument about my sexuality, stabbed that book and two other lesbian erotica books with the wide-handled screwdriver which I’d used to masturbate since I was a teenager.
These books are filled with three powerful things: 1. women, who are 2. empowered, 3. about their sexuality (which, by the way, does not involve men). Even the books themselves are threatening.
These books of lesbian erotica are not fluff. They are not nothing. They are not frivolous or useless.
For queers coming out and into our own, they are a path.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve managed to snag myself a lesbian bed death relationship, going out of my mind with desire and disconnection. I stopped writing, because the only thing that I was writing was how miserable I felt, how much I wanted out of that relationship—a reality I wasn’t ready to face. I decided that to work off my sexual energy, I would either go to the gym or I would write erotica. Well, I ended up writing a lot of erotica, rediscovering this tool of self-awareness and self-creation that had led me to smut in the first place, and I began writing myself back into my own life, back into the things that I hold most important: connection, touch, release, holding, witness, play.
My first published smut story was in Best Lesbian Erotica 2006. Between the time I wrote it and the time the book came out, I was beginning to end the bed death relationship, in no small part because I’d reminded myself of the value of the erotic, of my own inner erotic world, of erotic words. Between the time I wrote it and the time it came out, I started Sugarbutch Chronicles, which has carried me through these last five plus years, often being my sanctuary, support circle, best friend, and confidant.
Writing these stories, for me, has not been frivolous. They have not been nothing. They are not fluff or useless.
For me, they were a path back to myself when I got lost.
When I was lost, I had no idea what I wanted, aside from the basic daily survivals: work. Eat. Pay bills. Sleep. Shower. But when I wrote, when I connected with my own desire, I felt a little piece of me bloom and become in a bigger way. I felt more like myself.
I turned again to the great books of smut to help me find myself, to help me find a way back to a partner, a lover, a one night stand—hell, even an hour with a Hitachi was sometimes enough. The Leather Daddy and the Femme. Mr. Benson. Switch Hitters: Gay Men Write Lesbian Erotica and Lesbians Write Gay Male Erotica. Back to Basics: Butch/Femme Erotica. Doing It For Daddy. And Best Lesbian Erotica, always Best Lesbian Erotica. I still eagerly buy it every year to see what the guest editor’s tastes are, to see what the new trends are, to read the emerging new writers, to get my rocks off.
I rediscovered what I wanted through reading smut and writing it. Through carving myself a path in connection with a lineage of sex positive dykes and sex radicals and queer kinksters and feminist perverts.
After six years of writing and publishing erotica, I am thrilled to be a guest editor for the series which sparked me into queerness in 1998, thrilled to be choosing stories for the same series that published my very first piece, “The Plow Pose,” in 2006, which helped spark me back to myself. It is so exciting to be contributing to this queer smut hotbed that Cleis Press has helped nurture all these years, and I’m so glad to continue to be part of it in new ways.
I know what I want, now. And lesbian erotica, or as I prefer to call it, queer smut, has helped me not only visualize what is possible, but create a path toward getting what I want.
The stories in tis book reflect my taste, my favorites, my personal hot spots, certainly, but also the best-written stories from a large pile of well-written stories by some of my favorite authors, like Kiki DeLovely and Xan West and Rachel Kramer Bussel. There are some less-well known writers in here whose work you may not be familiar with, yet, but who will leave an impression on you, writers like Anne Grip and Amy Butcher. I found dozens of moments of signposts, signals directing me toward myself, words illuminating my own meridians of ache. With each story, with each act of lust, with each dirty command or submissive plea, I rediscovered my own want.
I hope you find some of what you want within these pages, too.
You can still pick up print copies of Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 via your local queer feminist independent bookstore, or, if you must, through Amazon.
And: Come see me & Jen Cross, Carol Queen, Amy Butcher, Xan West, M’kali-Hashiki, Cheryl Dunye, BD Swain, & Jiz Lee read smut from Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 this Thursday night, 12/12, in San Francisco at the Center for Sex & Culture. $20 at the door includes a copy of the book! Details here.
Buy your tickets in advance on Eventbrite for an extra ticket in the door prize giveaway! Door prizes include Pink & White queer porn DVDs and Tantus silicone toys!
I’m really excited about the Best Lesbian Erotica reading that Amy & I are putting together! We picked up two big boxes of BLE from Cleis Press headquarters today and are almost completely ready for the big day.
The books look beautiful!
Our lineup is incredible!
I’m working on getting someone to record video—I do have some leads, but if you are in the Bay Area and want a comp ticket to go in exchange for helping with video recording, let me know please. I would love that. I’m trying to get more videos of my work up online.
It’s an experiment, doing the release party with a kind of high cover price ($20 at the door) that includes the thing that the release party is for (a copy of Best Lesbian Erotica 2014). I’m not sure if that’s going to mean more people show up, or less, or people show up and want to donate instead of getting a book + ticket (which we’re allowing with our “no one turned away for lack of funds” policy). The general culture of book readings in New York and Seattle and (from what I can tell) San Francisco is that they should be free, and then that people will buy the book to support. But instead of that, we’re including some other goodies (like door prizes! And wine & snacks!) and making sure that everybody gets a book.
Here’s the details. I hope it’ll be an incredible turnout! I’ll be reading my story from the book, which also happens to be the lead (first) story, called “A Good Workout,” which is my first published butch/butch erotica piece.
It’s been interesting, changing my reputation and my perception to others as a “femme-oriented butch” to a faggot butch. I have pages and pages to say about that, but for now I just want to share that when I read this last year at an erotica reading, another butch who was reading after me stood up and declared, “I’m a REAL butch. I ONLY date femmes.”
I was kind of speechless and stunned. It was definitely for audience laughs, for impact, and to set her apart from me and my story, but it also kind of stung. Plus, ugh, I really don’t like anyone who uses the phrase “REAL ____” to try to describe how there is One True Way about just about anything, especially around gender.
I’ll write a bit more about that later, but for now, just know that I’ve got a controversial faggoty butch story (set in the locker room at a gym) and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all in person.
QUEER SMUT: BEST LESBIAN EROTICA 2014
READING & RELEASE PARTY
The holidays are upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with the brand spankin’ new Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 West Coast release party! Each year, the Best Lesbian Erotica series captures some of the best smut stories by well-known and brand-new authors. Come hear readings from 2014′s collection edited by Kathleen Warnock. Join us for an exciting reading from the new 2014 collection and beyond.
Featuring Amy Butcher, Jen Cross, Carol Queen, Sinclair Sexsmith, BD Swain, M’kali-Hashiki, Cheryl Dunye, Xan West, and Jiz Lee!
$20 at the door includes the price of a book!
Buy your tickets EARLY from Eventbrite and receive an EXTRA ticket in the door prize giveaway, featuring fancy silicone toys from TANTUS and queer porn DVDs from PINK & WHITE.
Books will be for sale—bring $15 extra and get yours signed by the contributors. As Kathleen always says: buy one for Grandma!
Queer Smut: Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 release party
Thursday, December 12, 2013, 7-9pm
Center for Sex & Culture
1349 Mission Street between 9th & 10th, San Francisco
Includes a copy of the book Best Lesbian Erotica 2014
No one turned away for lack of funds
Get tickets now! Eventbrite
Today’s my day on The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories blog tour … BUT I am running around like a crazy person getting ready to
1. Zoom into San Francisco and read at The Big Book of Orgasms release party (where I’m going to read Five Blow Jobs, FYI)
2. Go right from the reading to the airport
3. Catch a red-eye overnight plane to New York City, where I will
4. Teach a writing workshop at Columbia tomorrow, Thursday, and then
5. Perform a spoken word set in the evening (also at Columbia), and
6. Host an open mic to encourage the students to share their own work.
Maybe I shoulda waited to put up the hottest parts of the hottest parts of the stories post. Oh! Hey, those of you who are here for the blog tour? Go read that post. It has some good quotes in it.
So, consider this my Big Book of Orgasms placeholder until a) my schedule dies down, and b) I actually read more of the book (oops). Which I will. I love the short-shorts.