Susana Mayer Talks About the Fabulous Erotic Literary Salon

I had the privilege of reading for Susana Mayer’s Erotic Literary Salon on tour while I was in Las Vegas for Erotic Authors Association Conference. The experience was one of the highlights of the conference for me, and ever since, I’ve been dying to know more about the Salon and about the woman who made it happen. And now is my chance. I feel very honoured to have Susana Mayer as my guest on A Hopeful Romantic. Welcome, Susana!

KD: What would you most like people to know about Susana Mayer?

Susana: I have recently reinvented myself as a sexologist, receiving my MA in Public Health 2005, and Ph.D. in Human Sexuality 2009. I am not a writer of erotica, except for the occasional titillating emails I send to my beloved.

Presently, I am working on several projects; a unique anthology, ebook form (more info. can be found at the Salon’s website) and a non-fiction self-help ebook to better understand the complexity of libido, sex drive and sexual desire. Bibliotherapy is one of my passions.

K D: Tell us about the Erotic Literary Salon. How did it come about, and how has it evolved since its beginnings.

Susana: Creating the Erotic Literary Salon was a culmination of a lifetime love of erotica coupled with my dissertation investigations (searching for a catalyst for women’s desire to have sex). Conclusions drawn from the research and the sexual climate in the US led me to believe the time was right to mainstream erotica in Philadelphia.

The social messages women have been receiving did not allow “good girls” to admit to enjoying fantasies they consider pornographic. Based on media marketing, our society allows men the liberty of enjoying hard core material, whereas women are relegated to fantasies spurred on by soft core erotica.

Pornography usually conjures up negative judgements, and erotica is a term that is most often equated with sexual material for women. I must admit when I initially created the Salon, it was geared towards women, and I too used the term erotica so as not to offend my prospective attendees. The terms Literary and Salon were marketing tools to extend legitimacy to the event, since I realized porn or pornography would immediately offend people who equated this term with degradation.

Unfortunately, but ultimately most fortunately, the public space where the Salon was to be held could not discriminate against men. From the very onset the Salon attendance has been approximately equal among the sexes. Ages range from twenty-one (liquor law restrict minors from attending) to mid-nineties. Couples, singles, poly — all sexual orientations and an ethnic mix all attend the Salon.

This event has gone through several transitions since its inception. Initially the format followed most closely the concept of a true French Salon. Works were shared, discussed, and critiqued. It has now developed into performance, where the attendees expect to be entertained by the readings. Occasionally I have featured performers who incorporate music, song, or movement with their erotic presentation.

As the host of this event I try to keep the evening flexible, open to the possibilities of discussions, critiques and Q & A. The featured presenters, number of readers and attendee’s responses all impact how the evening will proceed.

It still surprises me when I hear attendees express their gratitude for having a venue to share their sensexual* writings sans censorship. Remarks like; “Susana is doing a very brave thing….It’s hard to overstate what a remarkable event you produce each month….Philly needs something like this,” remind me there are no other events of this kind presently in this area and few in the entire country.

People have confided in me how writing and sharing their words have helped them deal with a myriad of issues. Often this is the only occasion they have to hear how others express their sexuality. Exposure to these writings, especially journals and first person works, have given them the opportunity to reflect on their own sexuality. It can be of great comfort to know that there is such a variety of styles to creating sexual pleasure. For those who are troubled by sexual pleasure, the sharing of words may assuage their guilt.

The Salon has also given victims of sexual abuse an outlet to share their shame. By giving voice to their distress, in some instances the mere act of sharing has relieved them of the burden of shame. For others the control of the pen has allowed individuals to rewrite their sexual history, enabling them to cope more positively with their traumas.

Some people attend the Salon just to enjoy a night out with their friends, or it can be an unusual place to take their date. For an increasing core group of regulars, it is a community of like-minded people who enjoy sensexuala*.

The Salon is many things to many people, but one thing is a constant – each Salon is unique. I never know how the evening will progress, since each month the readings and featured presenters vary. Similar to my daily posts at the Salon’s website, I lend my voice to this event by offering news items with my sex positive spin. Individuals are given the opportunity to view a sexual newsworthy item from a different perspective. As a muse for this event I feel these items not only educate but can be used as research material for their writings.

The Salon also continues via the web between gatherings. Those unable to attend because of distance constraints are able to share their works on the site, while enjoying some of the readings from the Salon. A professor of English in India expressed his gratitude for having a community that would enjoy his writings and comment on them.

I believe the mainstreaming of sensexuala in Philadelphia is slowly becoming a reality. The first year the Salon averaged between 20-30 people. These numbers have climbed to 60-80 attendees any given month.

K D: The Salon sounds like such a wonderful community to be a part of, and I think it’s fabulous that there is a website where those outside of Philadelphia can connect up with that community. You must have so many amazing memories of the Salon, Susana, can you tell us, what was your most memorable experience of the Salon?

Susana: The Salon’s nonagenarian, Frances (she’s my Chosen Mom), read the best seller, “Go the FOK to Sleep.” Can you envision a 94 year old, white haired, 4’6” slim built, beyond wrinkled woman, armed with elocution lessons from grade school (sans microphone) reciting this adult story disguised as a children’s book to Salon attendees? She brought down the house. I have extended an offer to the author to attend in May to hear her once again read this piece. I hope to get permission to video tape and post it on youtube and my website. Can’t imagine him declining.

K D: Wow! I would have loved to be there for THAT reading! It must have been amazing. Susana, how do you see the future of the Erotic Literary Salon? What plans do you have for it?

Susana: I am considering adding several larger events, with the Salon as the foundation while including visual arts, music, dance for a spectacular evening of sensexuala. I’m also in the process of creating a Salon ebook press, not only to publish the Salon’s anthology, but also works of others. The Erotic Literary Salon is becoming an established brand, and I want to spread the word of sensexual writings as a tool for bibliotherapy.

*sensexuala/sensexual. A combination of (sensual & sexual) that does not carry the same judgmental values as those attributed to erotica and pornography. You get to enjoy the value of the piece, eliminating the need to discuss the sub-genre classifications.

K D: Thank you, Susana, for sharing with us. It’s been such a pleasure to interview you, and you’ve raised so many other wonderful questions that I’d love to pursue further that I hope you’ll come back again soon.

 

 

Looking for the Wintergreen with Trish DeVene

I’m so excited to have Trish DeVene as my guest on A Hopeful Romantic! Her story, ‘Looking for the Wintergreen,’ from the fabulous Oysters and Chocolate anthology, Nice Girls, Naughty Sex, is one of my favourite stories ever, erotica or otherwise. Trish is going to tell us the story behind ‘Looking for the Wintergreen.’  Welcome Trish!

Walking down a market street in Tokyo, a friend of mine saw a man with a long shine of black hair, cat-like in his stride—a person who halted her own casual walk and made her turn for a gasping gaze. That was twenty years ago and she hasn’t forgotten him, or that moment. Why not? What did it awaken? How did he pass over the threshold of her mind and become housed in her?

Another friend once told me that he and a friend were pulling up beside a car in traffic—a woman driver whose blonde hair flowed over her left shoulder, and whose smooth tanned arm draped lazily the wheel. They sat straighter; they waited for the car to press evenly beside hers. And they asked, “But does she have the face? Does she?” Oh, she did, and the friend wrote a poem because the moment was monumental, stamping his memory. For that moment, had she awakened something, created change? A new poem was born.

Every now and then, we happen upon something or someone that for unknown reasons snares us. I wonder if beauty catches the eye but something else deeper draws the longer look and holds the memory: the mystery, the potential, something sleeping in ourselves come to life? Or is perfect beauty—in nature, art, or people—a balm for the pain in life?

When I began writing “Looking for the Wintergreen,” I wanted quite simply to explore the possibilities of a beautiful man entering a sensitive, withdrawn young woman’s world. Aurelio literally steps up the porch steps, and through the front door of Leah’s remote family home that’s buried under swoops of snow. Except he isn’t made from their remote, white landscape; he is brown-skinned and warm, fit for a house of adobe. In him, Leah sees the summer valley at sunset, the gentle slopes that ride out to the tree line.

Does beauty make us vulnerable? Leah quickly monitors herself, noting as he passes casually into the house that care should be taken in crossing thresholds. “Think first, know the destination, prepare. There should be commitment in any crossing.” No one has crossed this threshold since her father’s sudden and soundless departure from their lives. And Leah, like the house buried in snow, has buried herself in literature—lust and love relegated to daydream only, as the family tries to recover.

Her pain is silent, her loss of trust unexpressed. In books, she finds fascinating heroes who reflect her own desires; she has no need for the messy, disappointing, fleeting attractions of real life, the kind that only leave you vulnerable.

She wonders if this beautiful boy knows what he steps over and into? But when he shakes out his hair, darker than their starless nights, he smiles and his gold-brown eyes sparkle on her. His face is open with trust. And for a moment her fantasy worlds blend with reality. She wants him to step in.

I was a child of gothic romances and fairy tales with noble kings, larger than life men who made the heroine take a second, longer, ever-lasting look. My grade-school girlfriends would get mad at me, asking why I never liked any of the boys in school. It wasn’t because I had too-high expectations, wanting real life to mimic books. It was because, for the moment, my own imagination excited me more. I wasn’t yet intrigued enough to take that messy step out of self and into another.

When Aurelio crosses the threshold into Leah’s house, it is her moment to step out—out of herself, out of fantasies, to take a chance on real life. He sees her desire. He acts on it.

When her brother, heading into town, hesitates at the door, paused in the white slit, one foot over the threshold, Leah urges him out, waiting for the door to slam, and suction Aurelio in.

But Aurelio, in turn, leads Leah outside where the white world melts, where behind the tool shed, he approaches her, his dark frame, his lush copper face, sunlit eyes, the petaled lips that part … kissing him, like gulping a sky of effervescent stars. She relinquishes to her very real desire.

In the end, when they return, he puts his hand on hers on the doorknob. Snow melts and her home’s threshold is new and solid with trust.

For me, stories are like crossing over thresholds, whether we’re closing our eyes to step into a new world in writing them, or we are readers entering an unknown tale to sit in someone else’s skin. And how often in life do we come across something, like the man on the Tokyo street, that opens our eyes or our hearts to a new landscape of possibility?

Thresholds are about change, one room to another, or one life to another. Sometimes the threshold is defined by great circumstances. But sometimes it’s just the passing gift of beauty and our own moment of trust that opens a new door.

Blurb:
In a remote house, buried under silencing snow, a young girl takes refuge in the fantasy world of literature to bury the pain of her father’s leaving. She disdains the clumsy antics of her brother and his friends, certain that in real life there is no one worth relinquishing her trust to, no Arthurs or Lancelots or Sir Galahads.

But when her brother’s friend Aurelio comes to spend the night, she finds herself watching him, sleepless with fantasies about him. In the morning, at their kitchen table, where he sits in his easy beauty, he catches her staring, and she discovers how it feels when a man knows a woman’s desire. A man who won’t leave it buried.

Excerpt:

The next morning, rattling pans woke me. My mother was making breakfast for the boys. A hearty breakfast always for my brother. I understood. I was here; he was away. He had that freckled-face enthusiasm that she remembered in dad.

I wondered for a moment what she thought of his friend Aurelio. Would she flush when she passed him a plate of eggs? Did girls scramble for the desk next to his at school? Teachers change Cs to As when he flashed that smile?

I was angry in the melting morning. Icicles dripped outside my window, and I brushed out my hair, vowing not to shower until I had coffee. When I walked into the kitchen, his mouth was open to a forkful of scrambled eggs. He shoveled them in before he smiled. Anger dissipated. I was the melting icicle.

Between him and me were twelve tile squares, two chair backs, one oblong table with a cracked Formica top, and a great wash of blurring sunlight. No slim belt-line barrier this morning. It was as if the entire room were a blockade. I was braless under the sweatshirt I’d thrown on, and the soft fabric scratched my nipples, sharpening them.

“Morning,” I managed, skirting the counter, as far from him as our small kitchen allowed. He grinned again and bit into the toast.

I was used to pale: The kitchen walls a faded yellow wash, the curtains sheer to sunlight, and all of us fair-skinned Irish. He was a shaft of dark color sitting at our table. Raven hair cut a straight line just above his black shirt collar, only a sliver of brown neck, and his hair fringed down his forehead, meeting black, defined brows. He looked down at his plate, focused on food. And he looked warmer than a hot plate of fresh pancakes, that syrup-colored skin shining in the streaks of sun.

I was staring at the sheen on his cheekbone when I realized he’d looked up. The smile was gone, his warm eyes darker. He knew I’d been looking. I tried a small smile and picked up the coffee mug on the counter, but he only stared.

So this was how it felt when a man knew a woman’s desire. I bit my lip, immediately annoyed with myself for this foolish reaction. Bitten lips. What did that mean?

His arm stretched toward me, that smooth hand wrapping the cold chrome of the chair. Here was a bridge – fingernails, knuckles, forearm. “Are you having breakfast?” he asked, and the chair scraped toward me.

I held the coffee pot up. “Just this for now.” I ignored the bridge, poured the dark liquid into my mug, and started back toward the bedroom.

“Did you get to look at the paper?” he called.

The paper. Yes, it was on my bed. I was stalled in the hallway, between the pull of his stare and safety. I pointed toward my room and nodded. The coffee mug steamed, my hand burning around it. I felt my clothes dissipate with the steam, left standing in his stare. “Yes,” I managed. “It’s …”

“I’ll come get it when I’m done,” he said.

I trusted my feet to take me back. I sat on the bed beside the papers. I wanted him.

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Nice-Girls-Naughty-Sex-Erotic/dp/1580053432

Author Bio:
Trish DeVene (also writing as Patricia J. Esposito) has been a writer of edgy paranormal fiction most of her life, but always knew she had a romantic heart and a tendency toward the sensual. Two years ago she decided to explore that sensuality and sold her first erotica short story. She hasn’t wanted to stop. She’s had numerous stories and poems published in anthologies, such as Nice Girls, Naughty Sex, The Cougar Book, Apparitions, and Lights of Love, and in magazines, including Rose and Thorn, Oysters and Chocolate, Clean Sheets, Karamu, Hungur, Sounds of the Night, and Midnight Street, and her GLBT vampire novel, Beside the Darker Shore, was released this year. Long-time married to the “boy-next-door,” she has two daughters and works at home as a copy editor, when she’s not off exploring the intoxicating realms of the imagination and chasing muses.

Personal Links:
http://patricia-j-esposito.blogspot.com/
http://patriciaesposito.wordpress.com/

Buy Link Beside the Darker Shore: http://www.amazon.com/Beside-Darker-Shore-Patricia-Esposito/dp/1615724168
Buy Link The Cougar Book: http://www.amazon.com/Cougar-Book-Jolie-du-Pre/dp/1905091567

 

Occupy Mind Street

The other day, I overheard someone say, ‘my mind is occupied.’ And I had one of those ‘Aha’ moments that happen when I suddenly see meaning in a word, meaning that’s always been there, but somehow I missed. Then Friday night, while channel surfing over a bottle of wine and some chocolate, Raymond and I happened upon the 1998 film, Fallen, starring Denzel Washington. Fallen is a film about a demon who occupies people for his malevolent agenda and passes himself on from person to person by touch. And there it was again, that amazing concept of occupation.  Okay, in the case of a nasty demon, the word used is usually possession, but the two words are synonymous in many ways.

I suppose with the occupation of Wall Street and all of the other occupations going on, and with high unemployment causing the loss of occupation, the word was already in my mind in an unconscious sort of way. But I’ve never really thought about what it means to have my mind occupied. What happens when my mind is occupied, and who’s doing the occupying? Surely the occupied mind implies that someone is there other than me, someone who has taken up residence and is now in the driver’s seat, focusing me, perhaps in a way that my unoccupied mind would not be able to focus.

Socrates spoke of the inner voice, what he called the daemon, the ‘inner oracle’ that guided him. For the Greeks, the daemon was an entity somewhere between mortal and god. In his Dark Materials Trilogy, Phillip Pullman manifests those inner oracles in the outer world and embodies his daemons in animal form.

Carl Jung believed each of us is two different entities, two different selves. He believed there was our public persona, the part of us we show to the world, and there was the mysterious, hidden realm of the second self, the self that was more at home with the mystical, more connected with the divine. For Jung, the life journey was one of integrating those two selves.

I can’t help thinking that Socrates’s daemon, Jung’s second self could be just other names for the writer’s muse.

That brings me back to ‘occupy.’ Even in the free online dictionary, all the definitions for ‘occupy’ gave me more food for thought about the occupied mind.

As I think about the unoccupied mind – if there even is such a thing, I think about the blank piece of paper or the blank monitor we writers face each time we settle in to write a story. There’s a passivity implied before occupation can happen, an emptiness. The dictionary defines ‘occupy’ as seizing possession of and maintaining control over. Our word ‘occupy’ comes from the Latin, occupare, to seize. There’s no denying that conquest is implied. A country must be ripe for the takeover, weak, unable to defend itself. There has to be a void to fill. To me, it make sense that a mind must also reach some point of passivity to be ripe for the takeover.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the mind is blank before it’s occupied. More than likely the mind was already occupied, or preoccupied.  When we’re ripe for the takeover, does the occupier come in and sweep out the detritus, the tyrants of busy-ness and lethargy, the sludge of self-doubt and procrastination? Is it a peaceful coup or a violent uprising? And how does the way the occupation of the mind come about effect what we, as writers, create when the occupier comes in, does a proper housecleaning, and takes over the controls?

An occupied mind is a beautiful thing to behold, even more beautiful to experience. And at those times when I’m fully taken over, I’m truly beside myself, watching with amazement while the occupier guides me.

When that happens then word, ‘occupy,’ takes on a new, active meaning. I become engaged, employed, with my full concentration on a task, and that task involves the writing of a story. Since I can’t really skirt the spiritual implications while talking about daemons and muses and the Self with a capital ‘S’, it seems appropriate to bring in that lovely word, ‘vocation,’ because vocation and occupation are so beautifully linked. Vocation, according to the dictionary, is a regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified. It is an inclination, as if in response to a summons, to undertake a certain kind of work, a calling.

An inclination, as if in response to a summons definitely sounds like a close encounter with the Muse to me. And it’s that close encounter that brings me to the final definition of occupy; to dwell or reside in, to hold or fill. The world I create, the characters I populate it with and the conflict I thrust upon those characters now all come rushing in en mass to fill up, to dwell in, to reside in my occupied mind, along with the Muse/Daemon/Self, who is at the controls. That, I would say, is a fully occupied mind, and every writer’s wet dream.

I could go on and on about the implications of occupation and vocation and daemons and the Self and Muses in the driver’s seat, but my mind is really occupied with a novella at the moment. So if you’ll excuse me, I really need to get back there so I won’t miss anything because the occupation is just now getting really good and really messy.

 

 

 

 

 

Sharazade Talks About Her Story, ‘Flaws,’ and the Train Journey that Inspired It

It’s my pleasure to welcome international woman of mystery and Queen of Travel Erotica,  Sharazade, to share with us the story behind her moving, sexy train story, Flaws.

It’s always fun to hear from readers which story in a collection was a favorite. You never get the same answers from everybody, of course, but if we go by the majority, the short story “Flaws” from Transported: Erotic Travel Tales is the most popular. It’s a story told in the first person, from the point of view of a young woman traveling across the US by train, who lacks confidence in her attractiveness because of what she views as her body’s “flaws”—the sorts of things that the reader can see a lover probably wouldn’t even notice, let alone care about, but that can drive the owner to distraction—a scar, unusually large nipples, a few hairs out of place, a belly that isn’t flat.

I’m often asked if any of those flaws are mine. Well—that you don’t get to know. But the real “flaw,” of being hyper-critical of myself, that is sometimes mine and it sometimes isn’t. Like the character in the story, I’m quite aware that confidence is sexy; but like that character, I know how hard it is sometimes to pull yourself up when you’re not feeling confident. It takes more to feel good about yourself than just giving yourself a stern talking to. I confess I get a little impatient sometimes with websites (and people) who say that you should never base your feelings of confidence or self-worth on someone else’s perception or evaluation, but only on your own. Of course there’s truth to that, but come on. What if you’re feeling very down about yourself? Or what if you’re feeling very confident, but … no one else seems to agree with you? Hey, it happens.

So in the story, I let the woman gain some confidence from the unexpected (well, to her, anyway!) advances of an attractive man. His obvious attraction to her and her body is the boost she needs to pull herself out of her low spot. Is she going to base her future sense of self-worth on a fleeting encounter with a guy (or… two guys…) on a train? Of course not. But she sure steps off that train feeling good; and then the cycle can work its way up, instead of down. When you feel good, you look good, and when you look good, you feel good, and so on. Enthusiastic appreciation and lust from a partner contribute to one’s self-image—a good reminder that we should express our own appreciation and lust for our partners in very obvious ways.

On a more personal note, I also like “Flaws” because a lot of the plot line is autobiographical—I have taken that train trip, and I was reading “To the Lighthouse,” and I did get a free sleeper car from the conductor for the second half of the trip. And the rest? Well, I’ll leave that to the readers’ imaginations.

Excerpt:

His compartment is small, and I accidentally brush against him as I enter the room. (I was right, he is well-muscled.) The bed is actually a bunk, with a lower and upper berth. There’s a full-length mirror on one wall, and a little doorway on the other side that must go to the bathroom area. I notice he has two suitcases, which seems a bit extravagant. Perhaps one needs a wealth of material to describe the deeds of Herbert Hoover, or maybe he’s just a clothes horse. Some men are. Now that I’m in his room, I feel a bit awkward. How exactly am I going to take a shower? Surely he’d have to leave for a while? But he makes no move to go, and I feel to shy to ask him to. To cover my nervousness, I lean over the bottom bunk and look out the window. Of course, it’s dark, so I can’t see a thing, so now I must look like a complete idiot. Maybe he’ll think I can see the stars, or something.

Suddenly I feel his hand on me, on my side. Startled, I jump up and back into him, there being nowhere else in the little room to go, and now both of his arms are around me, turning me around. He looks at me without speaking, and brushes a lock of my hair out of my face with his hand. Oh. My. OK, I didn’t know this was on his mind, I didn’t suspect this at all. I’m so naïve. Or just dumb. I don’t know what to do. I make a sort of a half move to go, but his arms are firm and keep me there.

And then he kisses me. Oh god. It feels so, so good. I haven’t been kissed in so long. His kisses are gentle, but firm, and… confident. Unbelievably sexy. I give in and kiss him back. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe he’d want to kiss me, but he does. Our kisses grow more passionate, and now his hands are traveling around my body, caressing my back, squeezing my ass, pulling me to him. I think again that I have to get out of here before it goes any further… and then I think, well, why not stay? Why not? I’m young, I’m single, I’m on a train, I’m here with an absolute dream of a guy who wants me. Who cares if it’s only because he couldn’t find somebody better? He’s with me now, and it feels amazing. And with some new confidence that surprises me, I slip my hands under his shirt to feel his body.

He takes this as a sign to remove his shirt. I was right—he has an amazing body, smooth and strong. And now his hands are at my shirt too, lifting it over my head. Oh god. Oh no. I’ve just remembered. It’s not a flaw, exactly, because it’s something I can fix, but … I also have just a few hairs that grow on my nipples, at the edges of my areolas. They’re not normally a problem, I just pluck them out, but I haven’t checked in several days, and I don’t know if they’re there now or not. The light in the cabin is certainly strong enough that he’d see them if he looked down. What can I do? I consider breaking away and saying I need to go to the bathroom, and then I can check for hairs and try to pull them out with my fingers if I need to, but won’t it look weird to just leap out of his arms like that?

While I’m trying to decide whether I’d look worse if I bolted into the bathroom or if he noticed some nipple hairs, I’ve lost my chance—he’s got my shirt off and is unhooking my bra and it’s too late. Each hand is caressing a breast now. I don’t dare look down, and just close my eyes. His hands feel heavenly, touching me with firm, sensuous strokes, his fingers pinching my nipples. I feel a rush of warmth between my legs.

He bends down to kiss my breasts. At least I don’t need to worry about sagging nipples now, because they’re taut and erect, aching for his kisses and light bites. And then… he stands back up, just a little away from me. I open my eyes to see what he’s doing. He’s looking at me. He’s looking right at my chest, touching me while he examines me. He traces my scar with his forefinger. I look at his face, to see what he’s thinking, but I can’t really tell. He runs his finger back and forth over my scar, and then bends and kisses it.

Buy Links:

Amazon US print: http://www.amazon.com/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-Sharazade/dp/1603814655/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313764337&sr=8-1
Amazon US Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-ebook/dp/B003N2PZUW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1313764337&sr=8-1

Amazon UK print: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-Sharazade/dp/1603814655/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313764375&sr=8-1
Amazon UK Kindle:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-ebook/dp/B003N2PZUW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=A3TVV12T0I6NSM&qid=1313764375&sr=8-1

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/14974

Barnes & Noble print:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/transported-sharazade/1100074487?ean=9781603814652&itm=1&product.urlkeywords=transported%2fsharazade&usri=sharazade
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/transported-sharazade/1100074487?ean=2940011051951&itm=1&product.urlkeywords=transported%2fsharazade&usri=sharazade

Bio:
Sharazade is professional writer, editor, and consultant with more than 20 books published under another name. She divides her time among Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the U.S. Not surprisingly, her stories tend to feature some aspect of travel–modes of transportation or exotic locales. She enjoys stories that are realistic enough that they might have happened and fanciful enough that they might not have. She values communication, adventure, exploration, passion, and love. Find her on her blog at http://www.sharazade.fannypress.com.

 

The Book Launch Extravaganza!

I’ve been anticipating the big launch of The Pet Shop forever now, and when Maxim Jakubowski and I decided to share the launch party — with him launching his exciting new novel, Ekaterina and the Night, it was a great opportunity for me to work with the King of the Erotic Thriller. We couldn’t be more different in our writing styles, and that made for intriguing possibilities.

I was actually feeling a little smug when launch day dawned bright and sunny. When I launched The Initiation of Ms Holly this time last year, I was a frightened, uncertain newbie. The Pet Shop was book number two. I was an old hand at this launch business now. I was ready for it!

There’s a price to pay for smugness. There was a broken printer, there were trains running late, there was Lucy Felthouse and the fabulous Ian stuck in traffic on the M1, there were windows shattering in the train Kay Jaybee was on, and there were problems with getting enough books for the launch.

Okay, most people think I’m the Queen of Calm (rolling on the floor laughing uncontrollably) but by the time we got to Sh! the calm had cracked, and poor Raymond, the Birthday Boy, was having to deal with The Wicked Witch of the West.

But Sh! is an oasis of love and calm if ever there was one. There were hugs all around, a nice cup of coffee, and Renee’s peaceful influence assuring me that all would be well. And I totally trust Renee!

Over at the Bluu Bar next door, where the pre-party was due to kick off, Mel Jones was already anticipating the thirsty convergence with a bottle of wine, several glasses and more reassuring hugs. While Maxim and I briefly rehearsed the reading from the prologue of The Pet Shop that we were doing together, Kay Jaybee showed up with Rebecca Bond, and more reassurance that all would be well.

Back over at Sh!, Sh! Sweeties extraordinaire, Jo Wierzbicka and Sarah Berry greeted us with hugs and congratulations, and I felt like I’d come home. The pink fizz was already flowing and the guests milled about amid riding crops and collars and vibes and corsetry. Lexie Bay and her lovely husband, Doug, arrived. In the Fab Footwear Parade, Lexie was the clear winner with ‘Sh! pink’ heels sporting a whole garden of tiny leather flowers. The competition was stiff with Jo’s ‘there’s no place like home’ ruby slippers. Not to be completely left out, I wore the leopard print Pet shoes, which bit my feet rather sharply when I moved just right. I suppose that was appropriate under the circumstances.

I was elated to finally meet Marilyn Jaye Lewis, who was here visiting from the States and will be doing a reading at the Last Tuesday Society on Friday. And it was great to have Rubyyy Jones in attendance, looking rather Pet-like herself in black and leopard print.

The party started with Maxim and me doing a joint reading of the prologue of The Pet Shop, as ‘The Boss’ and his secretary, Anne O’Kelly argue about the appropriate gift to give employee, Stella James, for a job well done. It was the perfect lead-in to my introduction of Tino, the Pet, who is possibly my favourite of all the characters I’ve ever created.

Before Maxim read, we had one of three giveaways that were spread throughout the evening. Maxim gave away two copies of the many fabulous anthologies he has edited, and I gave away two Holly/Pets coffee mugs. But the biggie, and much coveted grand prize, courtesy of Xcite Books, was a great gift package complete with gift vouchers from Sh!

Then it was time for the Queen of Raunchy Poetry, Mel Jones, to titillate us all with extraordinary filthy verse. And she did NOT disappoint. Later Mel’s partner in poetry crime, Alan Wolfson also read some steamy kissing poetry. (Alan was also in the running for the Fab Footwear Award with his truly exquisite amethyst shoes) These two lovelies co-host the Kiss The Sky poetry event every other Wednesday at the Kiss The Sky Bar in Hampstead. I have a special place in my heart for KTS because I lost my ‘appreciation for performance poetry’ virginity there. I could listen and watch for hours! Here all this time I thought I was a Philistine.

After poetry, Maxim took the stage (or in this case the pink setae) and read the gripping ending of his novel, Ekaterina and the Night. I have to admit, I would have thought giving away the ending would be a bad idea, but in this case, Maxim knew exactly what he was doing (no surprise there). This eerie, sexy, moving ending definitely made me want to read the rest of the book and find out how Maxim GOT us to such an exquisite finale.

Having finally made it through the traffic, Lucy and Ian arrived at Sh! with scrummy cupcakes in tow — none of which survived the resulting feeding frenzy. Once they had arrived, it felt like the party could begin. As the evening continued, there were questions and answers, book signings, snatches of fantastic conversation with lots of people I wish I’d had a lot more time with. There was more poetry, there were more readings and there was lots of milling around upstairs with the fabulous vibes, corsetry and books. I noticed more than a few people leaving with large pink bags of Sh! yumminess.

I thought by my second launch I’d be able to manage my time a little better, but not so. I’d had visions of photo ops with all my favourite people and quiet conversations happening in front of the collar and cuff display. What was I thinking? My lovely husband, Raymond celebrated his birthday by taking pictures and never missing an opportunity to promote me. Bless him! But what I really needed was to be TWO of me.  That way, one of me could just take in the whole experience as an observer, taking note of the things I missed because I was signing books or being so excited to see someone I hadn’t seen for a while or answering questions. I would love to have taken in the nuances, experienced the whole wild amazing evening a little less fleetingly and held it all a little more clearly in my overwhelmed memory. Because it was wonderful! My book, my baby is out there for all the world to see! Maybe I’m not as much of an old hand at this as I thought, because Wow! Okay. Just wow!

Afterward there was a very late dinner, with nine of us squeezed together in the basement of Pizza Express reliving the events of the evening and catching up with old friends. Then it was back onto the streets amid the clubbers and smokers milling outside and the street venders selling sausages and grilled onions to those with the late-night munchies. We said our good-byes near Old Street Station to friends who had to catch the tube or bus or a taxi. Kay Jaybee, Rebecca Bond, Raymond and I had hotel rooms for the night, so it was back to the all-night hotel bar for a night cap amid a raucous hen party, all bedecked  in sparkly headbands and surly looking blokes who had clearly taken advantage of the bar’s five for £10 beer special. Then, at last, it was off to bed.

I had the pleasure of having breakfast at the Breakfast Club near Hoxton Square with Kay Jaybee and Rebecca Bond the next morning. We talked writing and more writing over eggs and bacon, pancakes and hash browns and fresh squeezed orange juice. And lots of coffee! Amid the clatter of breakfast dishes and the buzz of lazy Saturday morning conversation all around us, we talked of our plans and schemed our future take-over of the world. It was the perfect way to top off a great launch.

I can’t think of the launch without feeling very grateful for all the support and good will that I felt. Thanks to Maxim Jakubowski for being a great ‘partner in crime.’ Thanks to all the people who wished me well via Facebook, Twitter, email and snail mail. Thanks to everyone who came to the launch party, and especially to those who braved traffic, exploding train windows and other hazards of long journeys to get there. Thanks to Mel Jones and Alan Wolfson for sharing their deliciously raunchy poetry. Thanks to Xcite Books for furnishing the food, drinks and give away. And a very special thanks, once again to the incomparable Sh! Ladiez! There aren’t enough hugs and kisses to express my gratitude to you sweeties!

Dozing on the train, in the unseasonably warm sunlight on the way home, I relived the highlights of the fantastic Book Launch Extravaganza once again and tried to remember more of the bright, bubbly details that rushed by so quickly. I imagine I’ll be sifting through all that lovely excitement in my head for days to come. A book launch at Sh! is most definitely the gift that keeps on giving.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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