Category Archives: Revelations & Humor

A Chinese Funeral, Good Luck, and the Powerball

2015 ended sadly with the death of my grandmother, but I’ve processed much of it over the past couple of weeks, and I’m finally beginning to feel lighter. I know this because I can write about my recent trip with some levity.

On New Year’s Day, I traveled to New York City for my grandmother’s funeral. I haven’t been with that much family under one roof in a long time. The last occasion was probably for my grandfather’s funeral, and that was eighteen years ago. My memory of it has faded. I was not as close to my grandfather as I was to my grandmother, so I was probably less interested in the customs then. This time, I paid attention because I knew it would be the last time my family followed this tradition so closely. My grandmother was my last surviving grandparent. All five of her children (my mom is the oldest) planned her funeral together. Along with losing a generation, it’s inevitable many of its customs will also be lost. Even though my beliefs about death are different, I find value in following rituals. It helps ease the pain of loss.

The ceremony consisted of a two-day service and numerous tasks in between. Much of the time at the funeral home involved burning spirit money that resembles legal tender. The money is available in outrageous denominations from 10,000 to 1,000,000 dollars and is used to purchase services or buy things in the afterlife.

heaven notes

Joss paper, thin sheets of coarse bamboo decorated in gold or silver foil is also burned. The assumption is the offerings consumed by fire will reappear as actual items in the spirit world, making them available for departed loved ones. My grandmother enjoyed life, so we didn’t stop burning once the fire started. Mourners who came to pay their respects were encouraged to participate as well.

joss paper

When I wasn’t burning something, I sat in my designated seat in a section with the other grandchildren. We folded stacks and stacks of Joss paper into oblong-shaped ingots in preparation for their burning. Folding the paper is an important part of the burning ceremony as it distinguishes Joss paper from actual money. As the paper is treated with the respect of real money, it cannot be casually tossed in the fire. Instead, it is placed carefully in a loose bundle. I guesstimate I folded more than two thousand sheets over the two days.

folded joss paper

The combination of a freezing room (expected for an open casket viewing), and a raging fire only a few feet from my grandmother’s body seemed absurd at times. I dressed warmly for the day, but when I got cold, I stoked the fire or burned a bag of money to warm up.

The immediate family was also tasked with burning papier-mâché items, representing articles my grandmother might need in the afterlife. This included an elaborate paper folding of a mansion (seen below), SUV, mahjong table, foot massager, and other necessities. When it came time to burn these, each family member chose an item(s) and headed outside the room where my grandmother lay.

We needed a bigger fireplace.

joss paper house

I grabbed the cut-out representations of a male and female butler, along with a pair of slippers. Considering my grandmother did not drive and a car was part of her offering, I thought she would need someone to chauffeur her around, and who couldn’t use a little help putting on their slippers?

The Chinese are strong believers in good fortune and luck. In a traditional Chinese funeral, as was my grandmother’s, all mourners received a white envelope filled with candy and money before they left the funeral home. The candy is to sweeten the bitter taste of death, and the money is for luck. The candy must be eaten immediately, and the money must be spent. My family pooled our money (there was a nickel in each envelope) and bought a lottery ticket called the Powerball.

powerball

If you’re not familiar with the Powerball, it’s a multi-state lottery held in the U.S. Shortly after I arrived in New York, I heard the buzz about the jackpot at 300 million dollars. After a drawing that produced no winner, it jumped to 600 million. As of this writing, the jackpot sits at $1.4 billion (that’s billion with a BIG FAT B) and is likely to surge higher by Wednesday’s drawing. It could become the world’s richest grand prize awarded to one ticket holder.

So here’s the second part of the story … and I must meander a bit, so I hope you stay with me.

I had a 12:05 PM flight to return to Canada from New Jersey’s Newark airport on Sunday. I was staying in Long Island. Normally, my uncle would’ve driven me to the airport, but he had to take my family to the cemetery for another post burial ritual. Given that, I awoke at 6:45 AM to give myself plenty of time to get to the airport since I had to co-ordinate multiple railway systems. Connection times were tight, with only five minutes in between disembarking and boarding.

lirr

Add to this, the weather conditions.

There had been flood warnings the night before, and sure enough, heavy rain and winds hit early Sunday morning. When I stood on the platform of the local railroad, the puddles crested the tops of my boots. I didn’t see much more of the weather after I entered the railway. I squeaked into my connection train at Penn Station seconds before the doors closed and got to the airport in record time! When the agent at the check-in counter offered me an earlier flight of 10:05 AM, I did a fist pump and gladly accepted. I sat in the lounge with a cup of coffee, stoked I had to wait a mere thirty minutes instead of ninety before boarding. How lucky was I?

airline map

 

Not long after though, things went downhill.

An announcement of mechanical failure for the 10:05 flight resulted in its cancellation. The airline had to reschedule a planeload of passengers. I was disappointed but figured I could get on the next flight at 11:05. Worst case, I’d fly back at my original departure time of 12:05, or so I thought. When I went to update my boarding pass, I was informed the 11:05 was full. I was re-booked on a 1:05 PM flight and now on standby for the 12:05.

Shit! I shouldn’t have changed my flight in the first place! 

I’m sure other expletives bounced around in my head, but I stayed calm. When the airline announced the 12:05 flight, I watched the long line-up of passengers dwindle as they boarded the plane. I stayed close to the gate but was not hopeful there would be a seat left for me. A frustrated passenger started yelling at the ticket agent for giving away a seat she thought belonged to her. All the screaming did nothing to improve the situation. As I was about to walk away, an airport employee approached the counter and handed a boarding pass to the clerk. I overheard her say, “This is for the final passenger on this flight.”

Then the agent called my name. I felt like I had won the lottery!

It was only supposed to be an hour flight, but the weather continued to worsen as we flew. When we approached Western New York, the captain informed us the visibility in Toronto was so bad he was unable to land. He circled the plane, waiting for weather conditions to improve. After more than thirty minutes of an aerial view of Buffalo, the pilot announced the fog had lifted enough for him to try and land.

Try?

I must say his words did not instill confidence in me. The woman beside me had already been white-knuckling it the entire journey. Even as a normally good flyer, the constant turbulence unsettled me. Clouds had obstructed the view outside the window for most of the flight, so there were no visual cues to make me feel better. I tightened my seat belt and closed my eyes.

airplane seat belt

Suddenly, I wasn’t feeling so lucky anymore.

When the plane pitched forward and sped up, I knew we were closing in on the airport. I opened my eyes just as the plane penetrated the fog and saw the runway appear too quickly for my liking. I braced myself for a rough landing.

As the 70-person propeller plane came to a halt, a round of applause and cheers broke the tension. It’s a short runway, and the pilot did an excellent job. The proof is I’m here to write about it.

The caveat to this airplane story is the earlier flight at 11:05 was diverted back to New Jersey due to weather. If I had made it on that plane, I would not have landed in Toronto until much later.

After a long day, which fortunately ended well, I couldn’t help but think my grandmother had been looking out for me. It’s metaphorical, of course, but I felt extremely lucky, so much so that that when I arrived home safely, I called my aunt and uncle in New York and gave them numbers to play the Powerball. I’m not lucky with lotteries and I rarely play them, but there’s no way my grandma would have missed the opportunity to buy a ticket. Since she’s no longer here, I’m buying one for her.

If I win, there’s going to be one hell of a fire in her honour. 

grandma at her birthday

 

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Living through the holidays with death and social media

I lost my grandmother over the holidays. She passed away Christmas Eve.

My grandmother lived in Manhattan in a small apartment in the Lower East Side. This past summer, she came to Canada as she often did, a long drive across the border for a 94-year-old woman. My uncle and aunts drove with her to visit my mom in Montreal first, then they came to Toronto to see me and the rest of the family. That was July. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last time I saw Grandma alive.

I agonized over writing this post. The holidays are supposed to be a good time—a union of family and friends. Fun and happy moments, with nothing worse than a bit of melancholy for another year passed, but what do you do when someone dies at this time? Holidays are not supposed to include death … but death is never convenient. You have to deal with it when it happens.

My grandmother’s death came suddenly. Even at 94, it was unexpected. I thought she could live forever. She had that aura of invincibility. Here she was at her 89th birthday party laughing with my mom.

grandma and mom

As an author who creates fictional stories, I debated whether I should write a post about my grandmother’s passing.

And how could I do it without sounding maudlin? Especially at this time of year.

You see, each December since starting this blog, I’ve written a holiday message to end the year. The messages have been about reflection, happiness, and looking ahead. I’ve often included humor as part of the festive season. I wanted this post to be something along the same lines, but I couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm to write it that way.

I just couldn’t.

I had to reflect on the life of a woman who meant a great deal to me, and it would be dishonest to write a holiday message without acknowledging the loss. Another year is coming to an end, but an important life has already ended. My grandmother deserved her time with me here.

grandma and me

With Grandma in Toronto 2013

Those who know me well understand I’m a private person. I rarely make announcements about my personal life. I share private matters one-on-one using more traditional means—telephone and email. My declarations via public forums such as Twitter and Facebook are mainly for my writing news. As much as I like social media, I consider it somewhat of a mirage.

Are people always as happy as they appear in their pictures?

The answer is obviously “no.”

With this post, my main purpose is to honor my grandmother, to let people know how lovely she was. What she lacked in physical stature, she made up for in toughness of mind and spirit. She was fiercely independent and got her way without ever raising her voice. Her quiet strength spoke to the many qualities I admired about her, particularly her thoughtfulness and grace. She made the world a better place, and she was a cool woman in every sense of the word.

I also want to thank everyone for their outpouring of support and comforting words of condolences. I’m extremely grateful for the kindness of friends, both virtual and in real life. Though I feel a sad void right now, I know how fortunate I am to have had my grandmother in my life for so long. Many of my friends no longer have parents, let alone grandparents. The reality is Grandma influenced me well into adulthood, and I will forever cherish the precious years I had with her. Her legacy lives on in the small things, which added up to her huge appetite for life.

As she was my last surviving grandparent, her passing brings me closer to my own mortality, but I am not afraid.

I never saw Grandma afraid of anything.

* * *

Some final words for the readers of this blog …

I so appreciate the personal notes, comments, follows, shares, likes, emails, and messages you’ve sent over the years. With your kindness, you’ve given me the best gift for the holidays during a difficult time.

Thank you.

As I close my blog for another year, I am grateful that social media has connected us. We are here together, and that is something worth celebrating.

Wishing love, health, and happiness for you and your families. May 2016 be unforgettable in the best of ways,

~ eden ♥

 

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On judging feminist p*rn and what feminism means to me

As I have done the previous four years, I served on a panel of judges for the upcoming Feminist Porn Awards (FPA) sponsored by Good For Her, the premiere erotic boutique in Toronto. As a judge, I watched a lot of porn in the past few weeks. A LOT of porn.

good for her banner

I’ve blogged about the FPA in the past, and what the spirit of the show means. Read my articles if you’re interested to know my history with it.

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the awards, and my last year as a judge for the show. As much as I have enjoyed doing it, I’m passing the baton due to other commitments.

The FPA is an inclusive forum for filmmakers—gay, straight, transgender, and those who identify themselves differently. For me, the highest marks went to the films that met all or most of the following criteria:

I love feminist porn

1) Inclusiveness: The work expands sexual representation on film and presents a vision that sets it apart from mainstream pornography.

2) Good quality filmmaking: If you shot the film using your phone, chances are you won’t win points with me. I like good quality filmmaking, attention to detail, lighting, and sound.

3) Creativity: Just as I don’t enjoy reading about stereotypes, I don’t enjoy watching sexual stereotypes. Show me something I haven’t seen before.

4) Arousal factor: Did the film arouse me? Even if the film does not depict something I would necessarily like, I need to see that the actors are genuinely enjoying themselves.

5) Story: Story crafting is not always necessary, but if the film strives to tell one, then please don’t include a thinly-veiled “Pizza delivery boy scene.” It’s unnecessary if it adds nothing.

* * * *

The films I saw are unlikely to hit mainstream theatres. And over the years, it has surprised some people that I’m involved with movies in this genre.

One question that has continued to pop up, especially in light of Fifty Shades of Grey, (which I have neither read nor watched the movie) is:

You support feminist porn, but what does it say about a woman if she enjoys fantasies where men dominate women? Isn’t this against feminism?

Though I’ve answered this question privately, I’ve never formally answered it, so I will do so now.

Let me talk about feminism first, as my definition of it may not be the same as yours. I believe in the rights of people, which means both women’s rights AND men’s rights. One should not trump the other based on sex.

My idea of feminism is not that I should have everything that men have, but I should not be prohibited to pursue what I want in life because I am a woman.

It does NOT mean that all things ‘male’ need to be open to me. Just as not all things ‘female’ should be open to men.

As an example, I have zero interest in joining exclusive men’s clubs where they drink whisky, smoke cigars, and whatever else men do behind closed doors out of the watchful eye of their wives and significant others. To women who feel they should be able to join these clubs, I say: Start your own damn club!

That is the freedom you have.

I am all for gender equality, but I believe there is value in men bonding with men only. And the same is true for women being with women only. Men and women are inherently different. We don’t always find the same things appealing, and nowhere is this more evident than when we socialize. We behave differently when members of the opposite sex are around. This may not be the case if the men and women know each other very well, but otherwise, most of us have been socialized to behave in a certain way depending on the company we keep.

At times, I fear the fight to close the gender gap has verged on the ridiculous, which in turn, has muddied more legitimate pursuits. An issue such as equal pay for equal work should be a no-brainer, and yet, women with the same job and same qualifications as men are still, on the whole, paid less than men. This is worth fighting for, not trying to get into private men’s clubs.

But hey, that’s just how I feel.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent.

Back to the question of women who fantasize about being dominated by men. Is this against feminism?

No.

It’s that simple.

I refuse to police anyone’s desires or fantasies. I am sure there are many women with fantasies of being dominated by men, myself included. It does not make me weak, passive, or against feminism.

Men dominating women on film and in literature are not anti-feminist, but a reason it may be perceived as such is because consent is not always clear.

CONSENT.

That is a key factor in fantasy play, and it must be explicit.

If all we ever see or read is men dominating women, then some people may think this type of power exchange is what all women want. That is not the case. Conversely, the stereotype of the woman who only wants soft, gentle, romantic sex in her porn and books is also untrue.

Regardless of who is on top, both men and women should have the freedom to explore their fantasies, sans judgment, especially since the psychology of eroticism is impossible to define.

What I find erotic is not within my control, so why do I need to fit my fantasy into a box that is socially acceptable?

I don’t.

My erotic imagination and life should not have to conform to my real life, which is built around a specific set of social and moral values.

The two lives never have to meet.

As human beings, we need to stop judging others for their sexual preferences and realize that the mind is both complex and mysterious. It’s not our sexual fantasies that inform our decisions and how we behave in the real world.

So … in a nutshell, if you’re a woman who wants a man to dominate you in your fantasies, go for it if it turns you on. It does not make you a bad person nor does it make you anti-feminist.

 * * * *

Come join me at the events leading up to the FPA Gala this Friday. Tickets are still available at Good For Her or online at: The 10th Anniversary Feminist Porn Awards! – Feminist Porn Awards. If you’re able to make it, come and say “hi.” I’d love to meet you. ;)

FPA poster final jpeg

Wednesday April 15th Erika Lust and XConfessions
The Royal Cinema 608 College St., Toronto

Thursday April 16th Public. Provocative. Porn
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema 506 Bloor St W, Toronto

Friday April 17th Feminist Porn Awards Gala
Capitol Event Theatre 2492 Yonge St., Toronto

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An Infographic by @Grammarly shows good writing matters … not just for authors

From time to time, I muse on the craft of writing. I don’t go into writers’ tips so much as observations about writing in general. Below are a few of my more popular posts on the subject:

About that C-word

It’s Only Words … Or is it?

Plotting for Pantsers

Although I consider words fun to play with, I do not, however, play without established rules. What are these rules, you ask?

They would be: punctuation, sentence structure, correct wording, spelling, and so on. They are areas I strive to improve upon each time I write a book/story/blog. I know this because I cringe (just a little) when I read some of my earlier offerings. It’s not that they were terrible, but I would have written them differently today. I consider this progress—a barometer of my own learning, if you will.

As authors, words are our tools. We use them to create content that must be both compelling and good.

What makes it compelling is our imagination and passion for telling a story.

What makes it good is our ability to capture readers’ imaginations in the telling.

Mastering the basics of writing is essential, and because language evolves, it is also a continuous learning process. Authors cannot become complacent with the mechanics of writing for it is the very foundation on which our imaginations rest. Without good writing skills, a story, no matter how compelling will never connect to a reader.

And it’s not only authors who need to write well.

Grammarly, a “grammar checker” and education website conducted a study to measure the impact of good writing skills on earnings. The Huffington Post published their infographic, and I have as well.

In the interest of full disclosure, Grammarly approached me to share it. For doing so, a donation will be made in my name to Reading Is Fundamental, a charity that promotes literacy.

I encourage you to read the infographic. Of particular interest to me were the findings related to the finance sector. As a former banker, I always knew good writing skills were important for moving up the corporate ladder. This was especially true as more areas relied on written communication to cement contracts with partners, both domestically and globally.

If there is a lesson to be learned, it’s that good writing matters. And nothing will convince some people more of this than the amount of pay they take home.

writing_skills_matter infographic

flourish

Learn more about Grammarly 

Website | Facebook| Twitter @Grammarly

xx

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A new year and moving forward

In the past, I’ve ended the blog year by looking back, reflecting on the previous twelve months and lessons learned. Though it never started out as such, the posts usually leaned toward the sentimental. It mirrored the mood I was in post Christmas and before the start of something new—in this case, a new year. It reminded me of old school days and a new notebook. I almost hated to write in it. I wanted everything to stay perfect as it was at that moment, but that was never to be. Once school began, I would break open the spine, and my neat writing would eventually become messy. I would make mistakes, erase entire passages, tear out pages. And once that book was full, I would start a new one. The shine of a brand-spanking new year would fade as I moved forward.

So this year, I won’t be dwelling on the past. I’m sure you had your ups and downs in 2014 as I did, but if you are reading this now, we have one important thing in common—we are here, and that’s something to celebrate.

2015 begins as a blank notebook, and we get to fill it with whatever we want. It may get messy or it may stay neat, but hopefully, we cram it with so much life that we need a continuous supply of notebooks as the year progresses.

My good friend, poet Steven Marty Grant, sent me a terrific Christmas gift. The message resonates loud with me. ;)

motherfucker mug

 

With everything you do this coming year, DO IT like a MOTHERFUCKER, and may 2015 overflow with wonderful things for you.

~ eden 

 

88 

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Merry Christmas from Toronto and its Many Santas

Merry Christmas!

I didn’t intend to blog today but wanted to share this video from a couple of nights ago. In midtown Toronto, many neighbours of Inglewood Drive do something unique for the holidays. This year, forty-five of them have installed giant-sized, inflatable Santa Clauses on their front lawns. Each measure over fourteen feet, and they’re quite the sight!

Accompanied by an upbeat song, “Birdman” by John Beadle, I hope you enjoy the video … and have a wonderful Christmas day!

~ eden 

 

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About that C-word …

‘Tis the season for C-words—cranberries, cookies, candy cane … but I won’t be talking about these C-words.

This post contains THE C-word. Consider yourself warned. It’s not my intention to offend, but if you are someone who is sensitive to words, then you may choose not to read further. I’ve written about the importance of words before, so you know I’m passionate about the topic.

unlocking the mysteryI started thinking about this post following a recent free promotion I did for my novella, Unlocking the Mystery. It’s the only story included in my erotic anthologies that contains no sex, but it does contain adult language. As with all my writing, I don’t insinuate “bad” words into a story for the sake of it. I make a choice to use specific words because they reflect a mood or a feeling. Certain words are just more powerful than others.

The story was inspired in part by letters Irish novelist James Joyce wrote to his wife Nora Barnacle. Titillating, romantic, poetic, and often rude as hell, Nora initiated the correspondence in November of 1909. At the time, Joyce was in Dublin and she was in Italy raising their children. Nora hoped that by feeding her husband’s fantasies in writing, she would keep him away from the courtesans.

I’ve received several reviews for Unlocking the Mystery. They are good reviews, so this post is not to discredit any of them. I’ve also entered into some interesting e-mail exchange with readers of the story. The reviews and the e-mails have something in common. They all mention a particular word I used: Cunt, and to a lesser extent cock.

“… using the crude words the author chose were unnecessary and jarring.”

“… change the descriptive word used in this story for the woman’s lady part, as it turns away many readers for some reason from what I ‘ve gathered.”

“I liked the story very much, but did you really need to use the C-word?”

“… That word is so demeaning to women. It shocked me that you used it.”

And so on …

I am not easily offended. Honest feedback is what authors want and need in order to become better at what we do. Reviews help us know when we are connecting with readers, and more importantly, when we are not.

As such, I’m writing this post as a form of explanation. I respect the opinions of those I excerpted above. I’m sure they represent a segment of the population who feels the same way. The thing is, if I were to appease every reader who disliked my choice of words, I would not be writing my own stories, I’d be writing someone else’s. My own conviction is what dictates that certain words “fit” a story. That’s the reason I choose them and why I must stand by them.

Unlocking the Mystery is a romance between two grown-ups, separated by an ocean. They cannot use their senses to experience each other. They can only convey their desire by writing letters.

Letter writing—it’s a dying art, so why write one, post it, and wait two weeks or longer to receive a response? The anticipation must make the desire unbearable, and that’s the point. My story is about a generation that was a lot more patient than we are today.

Yes, Caroline and Shane were romantic, but it does not mean they could not be lewd, crude, and raw in their desire for one another.

My use of the word cunt is present in two passages in the story. In both instances, they were included in the letters Shane wrote to Caroline.

(1) … Your last letter had me excited for days. I read it over and over again, seeing you doing all the things you wrote of. It was wonderfully disjointed and made me feel the desperation of you fingering your cunt right before you wrote it. To play with yourself like that for hours in a deep sea of blankets, my god, but you are a vixen! …

(2) … I dream of your breasts, your cunt, your arse, your lips, your hands. I dream of you, my beautiful, sweet Caroline and count the seconds until I receive your next letter…

The raw nature of the letters was meant to express a man’s sexual frustration at being separated from his love. Though mere words could never communicate his feelings properly, they were all he had.

In my opinion, the word cunt fit. After all, sex is not always a polite “please and thank you” session. Sometimes, it is raw passion driven by libido, and in the absence of connecting to Caroline physically, Shane’s animalistic lust fueled his letters.

james joyce

James Joyce

Here is a post that contains some of James Joyce’s letters to his wifeCunt is used sixteen times, along with other “taboo” words. You soon realize how his lust fueled his letters as well.

Etymology of CUNT

Most sources I have read show the word cunt as derived from the Germanic “kunte” and dates back to the 1200s. The word’s etymology is complicated, and I am not a scholar on the topic. It does appear, however, that in the Middle Ages, English speakers were less squeamish about obscene language. With a lack of privacy, there was probably less shame about sex and body parts. The C-word was socially acceptable for a time until it became taboo. When and why the switch occurred is a source of debate. Dates are bandied about based on when texts were censored if the word cunt was used. If you wish to read more on the topic, refer to a comprehensive article on Matthew Hunt’s blog.

The word’s acceptability can also be regional. Barbados-born pop star Rihanna included it freely in her tweets until she was criticized for it. She defended her action by saying the word is not offensive to Bajans, and she used it as a term of endearment.

The queer subculture has been using cunt for years to describe something beautiful, delicate, and soft.

In the UK, the word does not apply only to women. It is a gender-neutral slur that is often directed at men as well.

My point is: the word cunt and words derived from it will offend if you hear it as the most vile swear word that can be directed at a woman, if it speaks to you of misogyny, sexual harassment, and abuse.

And here is where another C-word comes into play: Context.

It’s my firm belief that the volition behind the words we say or write is every bit as important, if not more important than the actual words used.

Language is a living and breathing discipline, and words that make up a language evolve. What was taboo at one time may transition from unacceptable to acceptable. In 1966, comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested for saying nine words: ass, balls, cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, piss, shit, tits.  Today, most of these words are commonplace in spoken and written media.

Whether we like the C-word or not, it is not going away. Earlier this year, The Oxford Dictionary added four new words—cunty, cuntish, cunted, and cunting. You may never use them, but they exist.

Like the words sick, wicked, and bad, whose informal meanings have been changed from negative to positive, so too might the case be for cunt one day.

You just never know.

FiW.act-three_4And on this positive note, I offer one last FREE novella this month, available Dec. 22-24. ACT THREE is the most over-the-top erotic story I’ve written to date. It’s raw fantasy inspired by adult play, mixed with reality. At times, the lines blur. For some readers, this story will push the boundaries for what they find comfortable in erotic writing. I hope you’ll pick it up.

One final C-word—Christmas. Have a Merry one, and no matter what you celebrate, I wish you warmth, health, and happiness this holiday season.

Have a wonderful week,

~ eden 

 

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Read: RAW by Peter Cantelon (@cantelon)

I have never re-blogged an article, and as it turns out, I don’t even know how to do it properly, so instead, I’m sharing it via a link at the end of my intro.

Normally, when I have something to say, I’m able to say it in my own words. This time, however, I’ve had difficulty expressing my thoughts clearly, and then … I came upon a blog last night that said what I could not say.

It speaks to the recent shootings in Quebec and Ottawa. It speaks to the unity of Canadian people, and it also speaks to a collective sadness. Over the next weeks, with the funerals of two Canadian soldiers, the nation will be mourning.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist, was shot Wednesday while standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, and two days earlier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was run down in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

The killers were also Canadian, homegrown terrorists.

Please read the article, simply entitled:

 RAW

by Peter Cantelon

 

I don’t know Mr. Cantelon, but he has articulated his thoughts and feelings so well in his article, that I would be remiss in not sharing it. If you feel the same, please comment on and share his blog.

– eden 

**

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes


change is the only constant

I’ve been changing some of my backlist as part of the promotion for my current book, Stranger at Sunset. With thirteen titles under my name, it’s not unheard of to use an existing book to help sell a new release, but it’s been tricky. I’ve changed genres from erotica to mystery/thriller. For many reasons, I didn’t write my new book under a different author name, so it’s required some re-branding on my part. A combination of research, luck, dogged determination, and sleepless nights has gotten me to this point.

trust me

This should say: Trust me, I’m NO social media expert.

Many of you have kindly commented on how good I am with social media. It may appear that way, but I’ll let you in on a secret. I follow the successful people and find out what they’re doing and then I copy them! It’s that simple. I don’t listen to “so-called” experts because they change their tune as often as I change my underwear (probably more so). I follow those whose teachings resonate with me. I’m not afraid to put in the hours, and my method of learning has always been to jump in and “do it.” It’s my impatient nature. I’ll make lots of mistakes along the way, but I’ll usually only make the same mistake once.

Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 12.08.29 PM

Go to YouTube and listen to the song. It’s terrific.

I take a lot of inspiration from people who’ve constantly reinvented themselves. David Bowie is one of them. Since the release of Stranger at Sunset end of JuneI’ve sent out close to 600 emails to potential reviewers. I’ve contacted over 100 sites for interviews, guest blogs, etc. Along the way, I’ve made some excellent connections. I have a pipeline of guest blogs and interviews I still need to write. I believe I’m doing all the right things to get my books out there, but it’s a matter of connecting to the right people—the readers. That’s always the challenge.

pressure cooker

Relieve some pressure with “Under Pressure” on YouTube. Great song.

There’s a lot of pressure to succeed. I consider myself a good writer, but I also know that bad writing soars to the bestseller lists, and good writing languishes in the rankings. Life isn’t fair, so I don’t measure myself against anyone else’s successess or failures. I can only gauge my own progress.

Having said this … here are some changes I’ve made over the past months.

smashwords

(1) I’ve published many of my books to Smashwords for wider distribution. Through it, my titles will be pushed out to Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks, Sony, Kobo, and other retailers. When those new links are available, I will update my sales sites. For now, all my books are available via Amazon.

Seeking Sexy Sadie old_new

(2) I’ve updated the cover of Seeking Sexy Sadie

This short story is a psychological mystery with an erotic bent, exploring desire and the genesis of fantasy. I’m offering it FREE—forever and ever. You can find reviews from Amazon (where it remains 99 cents because I can’t change it to ZERO just yet). My recommendation is to get it FREE HERE. I mean, why not? That way, you’re saving money and might consider buying another one of my books :D.

hot flash old new

(3) I’ve updated the cover of Hot Flash. As you’ve noticed with the two cover changes, I’ve scaled back the “so-called” revealing nature of my covers. This is because certain distributors don’t want dangly bits, nipples, cracks, and other bodily parts. I mean, really. I’ve always considered my covers quite tame as compared to others in the erotica genre, but … I’m not going to fight that battle.

You can pick up Hot Flash on Amazon and Smashwords for 2.99. It’s a collection of flash fiction. Some are sexy, and some are written with an irreverent sense of humor, because you know … I never take myself too seriously. ;)

sas_2kindle

(4) Over the next while, I’ll write on other ways I’m trying to sell my books, but of course, we all know that nothing can sell a book more than getting out the next book. It’s a fine balance, so I must return to the writing of A Fragile Truce, the book following Stranger at Sunset.

thank you

A final message to readers, commenters, and those who’ve been so kind to share my posts across their networks, THANK YOU for all you do. Sometimes, your kind words are all that keep me going. Your support means the world to me AND you can definitely trust me when I say that.

eden

x

20 Comments

Filed under Revelations & Humor, Stranger at Sunset

My Rant about the #ALS #IceBucketChallenge

I haven’t had a rant in a while. Perhaps nothing has rattled me that much lately, so I’ve let things roll off me like water off a duck’s back. Speaking of water …

By now, most of you are aware of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. ALS, (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also known as “Lou Gehrig’s” disease or Motor Neurone Diseases in the UK has come up with an innovative way to raise money for its cause. The Challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and challenging others to do the same. Recipients of the Challenge have 24 hours to comply or they are asked to make a donation (originally set at $100). The Challenge has gone viral with the participation of celebrities and other public figures. Facebook and Youtube are popular media outlets for sharing the videos.

As the movement has grown, people are choosing to both donate AND get water dumped on their heads. How much money people donate can range from $10 to $100, or even more.

All in good fun, but most importantly, all for a worthy cause that has raised record amounts of money for a disease that currently has no cure.

I recently did the Challenge and posted the video on Facebook. I have no connection to ALS and prior to my nomination, knew little about it. I now know a lot more because of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

So, why am I ranting?

For whatever reason, I’m suddenly seeing a lot of hostile comments interspersed with the videos of those participating in the Challenge. I don’t understand it.

The range of criticism is vast:

“Participants are posting videos only to get publicity and boost their own egos.”

“The Challenge is wasting water.”

“We’re dumping water on our heads when people all over the world are really suffering. It shows we are disconnected to the global community.”

“ALS is stealing funds from diseases like cancer, which affects more people.”

That last one was the final straw for me. Really? Are we now comparing diseases to see which is more worthy of funding? Exactly how do we measure the worthiness of one life against another?

For me, charity is very personal. Why we donate to some causes and not to others is no one else’s business. That also applies to how people choose to use social media. If they are posting videos of themselves for the Ice Bucket Challenge, then it’s their business. Don’t like it? Don’t watch the videos. Don’t comment. Don’t share. Unfollow the person if it offends you so much. It’s that simple.

If you think the Challenge is wasting water, consider how you can conserve water the next time you take a bath, a shower, or do your laundry. Water is everyone’s responsibility every time we use it.

I don’t disagree the world is in turmoil, and many people are suffering. We cannot possibly know the plight of those living through war, starvation, and poverty unless we’ve experienced it. We can help by donating money, time, and giving of ourselves in creative ways to make the world a better place. By being born in the west or a developed country, we are extremely fortunate, but we cannot help those less fortunate by apologizing for the way we live.

If you think your money is better served donating to PETA, cancer, or another cause, then DO IT. The Ice Bucket Challenge is certainly not dictating where your money should go. If anything, it has given visibility to other charitable organizations that need help.

Lastly, don’t rain on the parade of those who are trying to do good. They’ve already had ice water dumped on them. Negativity helps no one. Convert your judgement, scorn, and mockery into something useful or SHUT UP.

End rant.

**

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Filed under Revelations & Humor

You LIKE me! On winning the Versatile Blogger Award

Okay, so I stole Sally Field’s line, but I’m truly honored to receive the Versatile Blogger Award from author, Christoph Fisher, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing. If you missed it, you can still read it here.

For me, the most rewarding thing about blog awards is learning more about the person who nominated me. I rarely participate in these memes myself. If you want to know why, read my article from Nov. 2011, a year after I set up my blog.

In re-reading that post, I realized I had received this award before, so I thought I should finally participate. It’s great to be recognized by a peer, and versatility is something I value in blogs, but even more so in people.

Given that, don’t forget to find out why Christoph received his award.

* * * *

versatile blogger

As part of this award, I’m supposed to tell you seven things about myself, then nominate fifteen other bloggers whom I think deserve this award.

They in turn, will keep this meme going (if they so wish), and we all get to discover some wonderful and versatile bloggers. So, here goes, and hope you enjoy ;)

* * * *

1) I had my ears pierced at five by my aunt. She rubbed ginger root on my lobes and stuck a needle through them that had been heated over a stove burner. I don’t remember it hurting but I cried anyway. Here I am modeling my first pair of earrings. Please ignore the outfit.

me with earrings

 2) I do not own a cell phone and have no intention of getting one. I never want to be that accessible, nor do I want to look like this guy.

rude cell phone

3) My laptop is with me almost all the time, and I’m one of those obnoxious MAC users. You know who you are.

laptop

4) I’m an online Scrabble freak with about 20 games on the go at any given time. I play with friends, strangers, enemies. I’m also extremely competitive, so don’t expect to win.

scrabble

5) I’m a strong advocate for sexual diversity and since 2011, have been a judge for the Feminist Porn Awards. It’s an incredible event sponsored by Good for Her, which supports the LGBTQ community in Toronto.
good for her banner

6) I still have all 130 of my 45s in pristine condition (numbered and dated of course). If you’re too young to know what a 45 is, then you probably won’t know what this is either.

45 adapter

7) I took two years of classes for a Conservative Jewish conversion. At one time, I could read Hebrew and recite many of the prayers. In the end, I went through three rabbis who would not convert me … but that’s a story for another blog.

star of david

flourish

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Drum roll please …

I bequeath the honors to these fifteen bloggers, whom I have great respect for. It wasn’t easy to narrow down to only 15, but here goes …

* * * *

thedailygrime ~ Writer of funny, witty, and newsworthy posts

John Dolan ~ English author living in Thailand, polymath, smartypants

Nicole Chardenet ~ American author turned crazy Canuck author

Billy Ray Chitwood ~ Prolific author and poet who tells beautiful stories

Lisette Brodey ~ Author of multiple genres and terrific interviewer

Jamie White ~ Author, blogger, photo geek, editor

William Kendall ~ Writer, rogue, and scoundrel

Ned Hickson ~ Author and journalist of humor and writerly advice

Junying Kirk ~ Traveller, author, foodie, videographer

Sharkbait Writes ~ Author of multiple genres and gamer, Rob Pruneda

Justin Bog ~ Author, storyteller, pop culture connoisseur

ThrillWriting ~ Excellent resource for writers from author, Fiona Quinn

L.M. Stull ~ Poet, author, reader, runner, and so much more

Majk Ink ~ Author, school nerd and techno genius

Bloody Munchkin ~ Creative writer and advocate of worthy causes

* * * *

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Filed under Craft of Writing, Revelations & Humor

Learn About my Writing Process

Happy Monday! My regular Music Monday post has been replaced by this blog meme and will return next week. “My Writing Process” is a blog tour which takes place every Monday. Here, you will discover an individual author’s writing process based on four simple questions.

I was invited by author Raymond Bolton, who posted his writing process last Monday. I’ve featured Raymond on my blog previously when he released his novel, Awakening.

Below are the questions and my answers:

What am I working on?
My very first novel. Wheee! I’ve written and published anthologies, novellas, short stories, and flash fiction up until now, so this full-length novel has been a real challenge. It’s also a different genre from what I primarily wrote in. I’m moving from erotica to mystery.

Double whammy, but hey, I love a challenge, or maybe I’m just mad.

steven saylor quote

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ll be honest. I hate this question. As a writer who’s penned erotica, romance, thrillers, I’m all about the storytelling and I could give a rat’s ass about genre. Genre is an old dividing line for readers, with some stories categorized as plot-driven and others as character-driven. Mysteries are normally classified as plot-driven, along with thrillers, fantasy, science fiction, and romance. There’s a lot of judgment in this type of categorization, with the assumption that character-driven stories are more “literary,” and plot-driven “genre” stories are entertaining but not well written.

To this, I say, Bullocks! And I’m not even British.

mysteryIt’s ridiculous to pit one against the other, and that’s why the argument of genre becomes tiresome for me.

I don’t write to fit my work into a genre. I’ve classified my upcoming book as a psychological mystery because there are complex characters and interplay between them. There is also a plot that moves them forward. There is no detective, but there is suspense. The end product has both conflict and growth. Whether you love the “Whodunnit” mystery or prefer the psychological interaction between characters, I think you’ll enjoy my book.

Why do I write what I do?

I’m not crazy about this question either (I’m beginning to wonder why I’m on this tour ;) ). The best answer I can come up with is my writing is fuelled by interests outside of writing. Some of these things are: the human psyche; foreign destinations; music; culture; current events; travel; life and death; love; sex; life in general. Until now, I’ve written erotica because I had the stories, and I liked telling them. Sex is a provocative and universal subject.

Now, I have another story to tell. It’s not erotic. It’s mysterious. Can you tell I really don’t like being labeled?

How does my writing process work?

In previous interviews, I’ve said I don’t deconstruct my writing, and that’s the god’s honest truth, but there are a few things I do regularly which steep me in the discipline.

Writing everyday is important. Reading is important. Right now, I’m on a word count schedule because it’s important to know I’ve reached milestones in my book, but that’s as strict as I get. The internal pressure to finish my book is great, but I also know myself. As a full time writer, I can easily become obsessive and self-absorbed if I don’t have a balance in my life. For this reason, I pursue external endeavours that have little to do with writing. 

One last tidbit, though I consider writing a serious business (and it should be if you want to earn a living from it), it needs to be fun. Here’s a piece of writing humour you might enjoy.

ImportantWritingTips humor

Next week, you can discover the writing process of three more authors. Visit their sites and see how amazing they are, then you’ll know why I chose them for this tour. I’ve included their Twitter handles too, so you can follow them now.

They will each post on Monday, February 24th to their individual sites, so watch for them!

Annetta Ribken ~ A professional editor of over ninety novels, Annetta Ribken has also been writing since a tender young age, when letters were chiseled on stone tablets, and is currently living and working just outside St. Louis with her evil feline overlord, a rescued shelter cat named Athena. Twitter: @netta50

Cameron Garriepy ~ Romance novelist, genre-crossing short story author and indie publisher. Twitter: @camerongarriepy

Victoria Dougherty ~ She comes from the ultimate Cold War family – daring escapes, backyard firing squads, Communist snitches, bowlfuls of goulash, gargoyles, spies, killers and dangerous pursuits, all part of her recent family history and explain why she writes Cold War thrillers. Twitter: @vicdougherty

My sincere thanks again to Ray for inviting me on this tour.

~eden

* * * *

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Filed under Author Promotions, Craft of Writing, Eden's Guest Blogs & Interviews, Revelations & Humor

Music Monday accompanied by a rant ~ Cold as Ice

Remember Foreigner? They were a British-American rock band formed in the seventies. They sang a song called “Cold As Ice” and it became one of their big hits. The song was about a woman. When I listen to it now, I interpret the lyrics to be about something else.

Winter is my least favorite season. I make no secret of it, and this year is making up for mild winters of the past.

My experience with winter?

I’m Canadian.

I grew up in Montreal, a city where the winters were much harsher than they are in Toronto, where I now live. We had more snow, which was fun as a kid. I used to skate, toboggan, and jump in snow banks.

As I’ve aged, I’ve grown a thicker skin (metaphorically), but the physical reality is the exact opposite. I wear a hat in the house four to six months of the year. If there is one thing I loathe, it’s having my head cold. I also don’t like being touched on the top of my head. It gives me the shivers like the cold does, so the hat keeps me warm and prevents anyone from patting my head.

Along with the hat, I wear little socks that resemble slippers, and I have a cup of tea beside me all day, which I repeatedly reheat if I don’t drink it quickly enough. It’s not that I can’t afford heating. The truth is I feel the cold acutely and find it difficult to think unless my entire body is warm. Someone coined the term “brain freeze” for me, I’m sure of it.

Canada is a country of four seasons. I love the heat. I hate the cold. I used to think I had to suffer through winter to appreciate the summer, but no …

Seriously, no.

I would appreciate and love summer even if it were 365 days of the year.

This circles me back to Foreigner and “Cold as Ice,” a song about a love affair with a woman, written by a man. He considers her cold as ice because she sacrifices love for money, prefers gold and riches to a fortune in warm feelings from him. He says to her, someday, she will pay the price for wanting paradise.

I would too if paradise was somewhere hot. ;)

I used to like that song, but I listened to it last week while in my car at below freezing temperatures, waiting for the seat warmers to kick in. That was following an ice storm during Christmas, and before the freezing rain which recently hit. “Cold” and “ice” were not two words I wanted to hear.

So … I decided to do a quick re-write of the song.

~~~

I’m as cold as ice
I’m not willing to sacrifice my hat
I never take it off
But someday it will be spring
I know

I’ve seen it before
It happens all the time
I’m closing the door
To leave the cold behind
I’m wearing my socks
My big sweater too
I look out my window
And wish for the sun

I’m as cold as ice
I’m not willing to sacrifice my hat
I never take it off
But someday it will be spring
I know …

~~~

Brrrr. Now enjoy the real lyrics, stay warm everyone,

~eden

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Filed under Musical Mondays, Revelations & Humor

Gratitude – My Message for the Holidays

This past year has been a strange one, a tumultuous year for many friends and loved ones, myself included. I had not intended to write this post at the beginning of the month, but then something strange happened.

I took a shower.

No, that’s not the strange part.

The strange part happened during it. My muse opened the door and stepped in. He’s done this before, but not in a while. I should have known. He tends to show up when I least expect him. On this particular visit, we had a long conversation. It started off as more of a monologue on my part. I rhymed off all the things I had to do, my gift list, my dinner list, this list and that list. The lists went on and on, and somewhere between the shampoo and body scrub, he reminded me to clean out my ears because I wasn’t listening to him.

He’s kind of pushy that way, but I complied, and that’s when he said I needed to blog about gratitude.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes in the frenzy of “doing,” I tend to forget just “being.” When I cannot take the time to reflect, then it’s difficult to be grateful.

Another year was coming to an end. It deserved its own time apart from all the things that still had to be done.

A time-out was important.

He was right.

* * *

2013 went by in a flash, and the years have gone by quicker as I’ve gotten older. When the end of the year approaches, it speeds up, almost as if we want this one to be over with, so we can start anew. In an effort to let a difficult year slip into oblivion, I thought the best thing was to not even write about it, but of course, I could not. Life, like my muse, always shows up on its own schedule—at an inconvenient time. I didn’t feel like writing this. I had a million other things to do. Yet here I am.

So … gratitude.

Around this time of year, the question does not tend to be: “What are you grateful for?”

For Canadians, that was back in October. Americans had their Thanksgiving less than a month ago.

No, this holiday demands to know: “What do you want?”

Everywhere I turn, I see the lure of things that people want.

For me, there’s little I want that is material in nature.

Stay with me … this is going off on a tangent but I’ll circle back. I promise.

* * *

I visited the John Lennon exhibit in New York City several years ago at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Annex, which no longer exists. The exhibit consisted of all things Lennon that one would expect—music, memorabilia, pictures, albums. I’m a big fan of John Lennon, but I don’t remember anything specific from that show, except for one thing—a crumpled brown paper bag.

The exhibit was marked: “Patient’s Belongings,” and it contained all of John Lennon’s belongings after he was killed, his body processed, and his clothing removed by the coroner.

Stark.

That image has stayed with me, and I saw the exhibit four years ago. For me, it was a metaphor for life, no matter who we are. Though Lennon lives on through his music, he left this world as we will all leave it, with nothing of value we can take with us.

For many of us, who we touch, love, spend time with, and share of ourselves will be our lasting legacy.

With a circle of friends that extends out from a small family, I consider the readers and writers whom I’ve connected with over the past several years as important in my life.

This season, I will spend time thinking of you and how you have enriched my life, how material goods will never replace what you mean to me. Even the occasional email you send my way is worth more than any diamond, which to me is worthless, so don’t send me one.

In this fast world where we are sometimes overburdened with too many tasks and too little time, I never want to be someone who doesn’t take the time for those I love most. That includes the readers of my blog and books.

Thank you.

In the end, none of us will be defined by the ‘stuff’ we have, but by the kindness we’ve shown, the love we’ve shared, and more than anything, by the gratitude we’ve shown others.

Wishing all love, warmth, health, and happiness,

~ eden ♥

xmas msg 2014

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Filed under Revelations & Humor

The Best Laid Plans ~ An update to my mystery novel

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley

 ~ From “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns

Most of us know the line paraphrased as:

The best-laid plans of mice and men
Often go awry

Or simply: The best laid plans …

In layman’s terms, the meaning of the line is: No matter how carefully one plans, something may still go wrong, or the result may not be as expected.

If you consider I’m not a planner anyway, it is amazing how I accomplish much of anything, let alone write. In the writer’s world, I’m known as a “pantser.” I fly by the seat of my pants. I don’t plan my storyline—the ones who do are “plotters.” Some days, I envy them.

Up until now with writing flash fiction, short stories, and novellas, I’ve had the good fortune of not having to plan.

When I set out to write a novel in September 2012, a seed of an idea took root in my brain. It sprouted slowly, branched off in different directions until it began blossoming several months later. The story did not reveal itself to me in its entirety as did other stories I’d written, but for some ridiculous reason, I continued to think it might.

Given that, I committed myself to finish the novel by year-end 2013. I wrote a post in January called Scaling Back the Juggling Act to publicize it. I figured that if I wrote it down and announced my intentions, my deadline could no longer be a moving target. In other words, I had to follow through.

Fast forward eleven months …

People who know me well understand I’m private with my writing. I rarely disclose works in progress. I don’t lament when I’m struggling, nor do I announce any great revelations. Based on how I write, things can change, so there is no point giving away anything until the product is complete.

Why am I telling you this?

The main reason is that people have been asking me when my book is coming out.

And why shouldn’t they? I’m the one who said it would be ready by now.

Firstly, I’d like to say I am so honored and thrilled for the interest. The fact that my book will not be released this year obligates me to explain. Even though the deadline is self-imposed, I adhere to my own work ethics, and my word should mean something. I am disappointed in myself for not keeping it.

My inability to plan the release date is a big lesson for me. I set the fuzzy timeline but did not build in a buffer. Ultimately, I underestimated the steep learning curve of switching both genre and classification.

A few clues to my personality should have alerted me to the challenges.

  1. I am my own worst critic, and I’m anal—a deadly combination. I cannot release what I consider inferior writing just to meet a deadline.
  2. I’m fearful of my editor, Annetta Ribken, even though I absolutely adore her. That adoration compels me not to disappoint her. She knows I want to become a better writer, and that can only happen with hard truths, delivered in a way only she can.
  3. I edit and re-edit my work as I write. I know this is wrong on so many levels. For my next novel, I aim to write a crappy first draft and not worry about it. For this one, that ship has sailed.
  4. I’m not verbose in spoken or written conversation, and I’m no fan of wordiness. I’ve always admired authors who can write 100K and edit down to 80K. My style of writing is spare, so my difficulty has been to build up word count, not slash it.
  5. I love a challenge even though writing this book has frustrated me to tears. At times, I despaired as to whether I could sustain a novel.

As of now, the truth is: My book will not be coming out this year. It will come out in 2014.

I’d like to end with a quote that makes the hardships some of us go through seem rather trivial, but we can still take inspiration from it for whatever challenges us.

* * * *

It always seems impossible until it’s done.
~ Nelson Mandela

* * * *

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Filed under Important Announcements, Revelations & Humor

In Praise of British Slang ~ A Poem

A short time ago, I had the privilege of speaking to an English author who is also a wonderful poet. During our conversation, he asked if I was still writing poetry. The question caught me off guard. I don’t write poetry regularly and have not done so since working on my current novel.

It got me thinking though, because I adored his English accent and way of speaking. He used words and phrasing I never hear in conversation with friends—which I found both amusing and endearing. As Canadians, we have adopted British words in our day-to-day language, but there are many we don’t use.

It also amazed me to discover how much of British slang sounds vulgar, even when the words are not. Some of the words in my poem may be regional or outdated, but they entertained me nonetheless. Brits can comment and tell me if I’ve made a twit of myself.

I hope you enjoy this short poem inspired by a special Englishman. I know he fancies wordplay and has a healthy sense of humour (that’s humour with a second ‘u’ since I’m being British and all). ;)

eden

****

In Praise of British Slang

The dog’s bollocks is the best
But bollocks alone is rubbish
And rubbish is actually garbage
Don’t speak it; throw it in a bin

If you spend a penny in England
Expect to be in the loo
But if you get diddled while in there
Check that you still have all your pennies

No point fannying around
As the arse is the ass
And the fanny is not the arse
It’s the female naughty bits

And what of the John Thomas or Todger?
Found on a mate, a bloke, or a codger
So many names to describe a plonker
There should be as many words for a lughole

You may think I’m barmy or bladdered
I’m neither, just a wee bit knackered
In need of a good eight hours
And I’ll be full of beans again

Yes I do love many things British
The language, the slang, the humour
A dry cocktail of irony and wit
Perfect for taking the piss

flourish

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Filed under Revelations & Humor, Short Stories & Poetry

Support Fashion and Fight Aids via @DaretoWearLove

Dare to Wear Love celebrates the work of Canada’s fashion community and performing artists. It also raises funds and awareness for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which puts money into grassroots organizations in Africa to fight the AIDS pandemic.

dtwl
Over the past weeks, I’ve been raising money for the Dare to Wear Challenge by embracing my Canadian style and wearing Canadian. The Challenge ends tomorrow and I’m SO close to my $500 goal. If you’d like to donate, you can do it via this link.

UPDATE: March 7th: Thanks to the generosity of all my contributors, I exceeded my goal! My appreciation to everyone who donated. xox

Scarf by designer OHMJAM

The highlight of this fundraiser is the Dare to Wear Love Gala which takes place March 22, 2013. Event founders Chris Tyrell and Jim Searle of Toronto-based Hoax Couture have invited 25 top Canadian fashion designers to create a one-of-a-kind ensemble from six yards of African fabric. These designs are modelled at the gala by supermodels, dancers, musicians, and other celebrities, as well as winners of the Dare to Wear Love Challenge.

Tickets sell out quickly, so get yours now!

Please learn more about Dare to Wear Love and give what you can.

Below are just a few pictures of what make me Canadian, and why I feel proud to support this incredible cause.

Shovel by Canadian Tire

Snow made in Canada, shovel by Canadian Tire

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 10.11.09 AM

Hat by Nobis, boots by La Canadienne

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 10.10.46 AM

Boots by La Canadienne

Lipbutter balm by Kona Kare Inc.

Lipbutter balm by Kona Kare Inc.

Beadhead and my Canadian passport

Bedhead and passport – uniquely Canadian

flourish

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Filed under Dare to Wear Love, Important Announcements, Revelations & Humor

Erotic Writing ~ What it Means to Me

I’m currently writing a full-length novel. The yet-to-be-named psychological mystery is a mix of John Fowles/Charles Bukowski/Haruki Murakami with just a dash of Pauline Réage. Erotic elements will pepper the book, but it’s a departure from erotica.

For classification purposes, I’ve always referred to myself as an erotica author, though some people have said I don’t quite fit the definition of the genre.

To illustrate this, I’ve excerpted several reviews of my book, Spring into Summer: (Full reviews on Amazon)

“… This was not simply erotica – this was fine literary writing with sexy erotic scenes that were an essential part of the story, not just added for the thrill of it … whether you like good literature, good erotica or heck, even good sex. It has all of those qualities.” ~ L. Smith

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“To call this erotica is, in my opinion, an insult to Eden Baylee’s immense talent. These are not one-dimensional stories about sex. These are stories about love, loss, passion, and self-discovery … Yes, there are erotic sex scenes. But beyond that are stories that struck me deep and will stick with me for a very long time …” ~ Book Addict

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“… While Baylee’s writing is absolutely everything that erotica should be hot, intense, passionate … Baylee’s tales are so much more than simply good erotica. They are stunning slices of humanity laid bare at their most vulnerable moments and shared with her readers …” ~ Tracy Riva

The reviewers highlight two important points:

  1. They draw attention to areas of my writing critical to me—strong character-driven stories and emotional impact.  “… slices of humanity laid bare at their most vulnerable moments…” as Tracy Riva writes is exactly what I aim for.
  1. All three reviewers do me the great honor of considering my work as more than just erotic. Book Addict goes so far as to say “To call this erotica is, in my opinion, an insult to Eden Baylee’s immense talent.”

That erotica, as a whole, is plagued by minimal character development and negligible plot is, of course, a generalization. Bad writing exists in every genre. The difference is: erotica has something other genres don’t have—sex, sometimes lots of it, and that scares people.

I recently wrote a guest blog for author, Patti Larsen called “Intolerant Attitudes About Erotica” and was overwhelmed by the response. The truth is—even as adults, sex continues to be taboo. We can discuss sex academically, joke about it, or judge others for their indiscretions. Yet, to have an honest discussion about what arouses us sexually is—for most people—too personal. It opens up that vulnerable part of us, which many share with only one significant other—if that. Erotica can expose us (if only to ourselves) to be less straight-laced than we’ve led others to believe—or the exact opposite. Not all of us can reconcile what it means to be aroused by reading BDSM, kink, or fetish fiction. What does it say about us? Are we (god forbid) abnormal?

My answer is a resounding “no.” I’ve never been a fan of what the majority considers “normal.” The spectrum of normalcy is wide, and conventional man-made standards are often moving targets. Ultimately, where sex is concerned, there is little I consider abnormal between consenting adults. One person’s deviant behavior will surely be another person’s normal—I’d bet my life on it.

Case in point, Goodreads classifies its “Best Erotic Classics” as stories that are famous explorations of human sexuality. Readers compiled this tasteful erotica list, and included Lawrence, Nabokov, Nin, and Réage, but I also saw an unfamiliar name—Seymour J. Cohen, author of The Holy Letter: A Study in Jewish Sexual Morality.

A philosophical and religious treatise about the morality of sex?

Is this erotic?

Not in my book.

I don’t profess to have a higher moral standard than anyone reading this post right now. In my stories, I won’t tell you how to have sex or whom to have it with. I won’t judge what turns you on. If you’re aroused by reading my books, that’s wonderful, but first and foremost, be entertained by a good story.

Reading fiction should arouse you. After all, I’m aiming my words directly at your largest sex organ—the one between your ears.

flourish

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Filed under Craft of Writing, Revelations & Humor

Canadian Authors Beware – Amazon Kindle Launches in Canada

Good e-Reader posted a summary of my article below on their site.

You can read it at: Canadian Author Warns Against Amazon.ca.

My thanks to Mercy Pilkington for a terrific overview!

Good e-Reader is the largest digital publishing, eBook and e-Reader News Website in the world. The company currently employs eight full-time staff writers and video producers that travel all over North America, Europe and Asia to bring readers the essential industry news.

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Full article below:

Canadian Authors Beware – Amazon Kindle Launches in Canada

I’m an indie author and I live in Canada. This is not some strange admission; it’s a statement of fact. If you’re a Canadian author publishing via Amazon.com, this post is for you.

Since coming on the independent publishing scene in 2010, I’ve dealt primarily with Amazon.com as my ebook distributor. All my books are available on Amazon.com and its sister companies in the UK, France, and other countries where the Amazon Kindle (ebook) store is available. The majority of my buyers come from the US and the UK, so I was a happy camper. That was until Amazon set up shop with Amazon.ca as its new Kindle store in Canada.

You may wonder why this would not be a good thing for me, being that I am Canadian. I imagine Amazon Canada had some reservations as well. The launch of its Kindle store glided in so quietly I had no clue it even happened. They should’ve named it “Operation Stealth.” I only became aware it was up when I continued getting a message each time I touched my KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or Amazon.com account. Like the sound of an annoying cruise ship director blowing her whistle, a pop-up would appear on my screen announcing:

GREAT NEWS! You can now shop for digital content at Amazon.ca in Canadian dollars. Learn about transferring your account to Amazon.ca.

At the time, I was in the midst of publishing several books on KDP. The last thing I wanted was to change a process midstream. Soon thereafter, I noticed variances in the price of my books. Was the timing simply a coincidence with the launch of Amazon.ca? I think not.

Warning: The next few paragraphs contain complicated (sic) mathematical algorithms.

I published all my books through Amazon.com. When I listed my book at $4.99, I would see it at that price. Now I was seeing a discrepancy of a few cents on each of my books. $3.99 books were showing $4.04, and $4.99 books were showing $5.04 or $5.06. Considering the Canadian dollar was worth more than the US dollar at the time, I found this peculiar to say the least. I’d always purchased ebooks from Amazon.com with the understanding I was buying in USD, and I’d pay the applicable exchange rate at the time of purchase. I thought perhaps the variance I now saw took that into account, so I decided to test it out.

I bought a copy of one of my books I’d priced for $4.99, which now mysteriously showed $5.04 on Amazon.com. When the item appeared on my credit card statement, I was actually charged $5.16 Canadian. Seriously, what kind of hair-brained NEW math is this?

I went back and forth with KDP Help to figure out what was going on. They swore up and down my books on Amazon.com were at the prices I had set, but because I was in Canada, I was seeing them differently. They suggested I transfer to Amazon.ca, where the prices were closer (but not exactly) what I wanted. My $4.99 books were selling for $5.00, and my $2.99 books for going for $2.94. I absolutely despise the whole “nickel and dime” aspect of pricing, but I despise the lack of professional conduct more. I had a major headache after going around in circles with KDP Help for a few days. In the end, I settled for not getting a satisfactory answer – how pathetic is that?

So…as an author, I now simply refuse to transfer to Amazon.ca until they get their act together. The main problems for me are:

  1. Pricing ~ If I’m setting my book to sell for $4.99, I don’t want to see it for anything other than $4.99 – not one penny more and not one penny less.
  2. “Look Inside!” is unavailable ~ This allows sampling of the first few pages of the book, an important step in helping a reader decide whether or not to buy.
  3. Author Central.ca is unavailable ~ This provides a personal author page. Without it, typing in the author’s name will simply bring you to a page with their books, but no author bio.
  4. Product Description is incomplete ~ Fields such as Editorial Reviews, Q and A with the Author, From the Back Cover are populated from #3, ergo the book’s description will be incomplete.
  5. Insincere marketing ~ This is a big one for me. Amazon.ca is pushing me to change but provides no benefits to me as an author. As a matter of fact, I’m being punished by staying with Amazon.com, since the experience I used to have is no longer the same.

My final words to Amazon.ca: Don’t sell me something as being good for me just because I live in the country where you’ve launched your new product. Until your service can consistently meet that provided to me by Amazon.com — I see no benefit in switching over.

As a caveat, this article is not targeted to Canadian readers who purchase products from the Amazon.ca. site. I am unaware of any issues for buyers.

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Filed under Eden's Guest Blogs & Interviews, Revelations & Humor

I’ve Got Dreams to Remember from Golden Clouds

I originally scheduled this blog as part of my Musical Mondays, but it seems fitting to post it now after returning from Jamaica.

Readers of my books know I’m inspired by beautiful places. Ireland, Austria, and Thailand are just some of the countries I’ve set my stories in, but I haven’t written anything in the Caribbean … not yet, anyway—soon come (as the Jamaicans would say).

I gathered with ten amazing people for a week. Along with a fabulous staff who tended to our every need, we experienced the wonder of each other in an exquisite oceanfront villa called Golden Clouds.

gc pool

Located in Oracabessa about fifteen minutes from Ocho Rios, the villa boasts lush grounds, two swimming pools, and a Zen Garden.

golden clouds flowersOne could choose amongst numerous sitting areas to relax, read, or meditate. For those who preferred more activity, a tennis court and exercise room were also available.

golden clouds rest area

The coral reefs located off the private beach attracted colorful fish and other marine life, creating perfect conditions for snorkeling and diving.

gc pool and ocean

On a daily basis, Blossom, the head chef prepared three wonderful meals. The authors, musicians, and creative minds of our group got to know one another while feasting on delicious, fresh food. It was similar to a family gathering during the holidays—only better because we all got along so well! Even the Christmas tree was still up!

gc dining table

Here I am standing in front of a tree I don’t know the name of. Those spikes are prickly, and several people have suggested: Banyan, Ficus, or Cypress. I’d love to get a definitive answer, so if you know it, please leave the name in the comments. ;)

eden tree

I’ve traveled all over the Caribbean and stayed in some beautiful places, but Golden Clouds tops the list. Its intimate setting, attention to detail, and a library with over 1500 books make it unique. For authors and filmmakers, you’ll also appreciate the villa neighbors “Golden Eye”, once owned by Ian Fleming where he created his character, James Bond. Talk about inspiration for your next book or film!

 sunset over golden eye

Finally, “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” performed by Jamaican born, Toots Hibbert (of Toots and the Maytals) echos how I feel after my amazing stay at Golden Clouds. It’s paradise on earth—a terrific place to rejuvenate and create dreams that will last a lifetime. I cannot recommend it highly enough for your next holiday.
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Feel free to dream a little with any of my books too. Available worldwide on Amazon. Read them and enjoy (no kindle required).

USUK | Canada | GermanyFrance | Japan | Italy | Spain

eden 

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Filed under Musical Mondays, Revelations & Humor