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'08 Authors Insider Tips


Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Inspirational
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft


Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons


2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
I’m Easy, But I’m No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
Utopias
Lust
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel


Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn


Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics


On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank


Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

Cooking up a Storey
by Donna George Storey


Compare and Contrast:
Monoawase, Polyamory and “Fuck You, Mrs. Fields”



Cooking up a Storey by Donna George Storey Compare and contrast. The words have an unpleasant whiff of the schoolroom and tedious essay questions on final exams. Now that school is out for most of us—or a bondage chosen freely, which as we all know is far more enjoyable than the enforced variety—we can take a fresh look at the comparison of like and unlike and its value to our ongoing education as erotica writers.

I’ve argued back in my January column [Tie Me Up, Please] that the writer’s main mission is to pay attention to the things most people ignore, in particular to sensual detail. Certainly a naturally observant mind—talent, if you will—is a prerequisite. Practice and training, otherwise known in the biz as “hard work,” also play a key role in the refinement of a writer’s senses. A writer’s workout need not be all focus and concentration, however. There are roundabout and surprisingly pleasurable ways to hone these skills.

One such approach I first discovered many years ago in a pre-modern Japanese literature class is the practice of monoawase [moh-noh-ah-wah-say] or “a comparison of things.” As far back as a thousand years ago, imperial courtiers would gather to compare and contrast incense or saké and later tea, sometimes with knowledge of each item’s origin, sometimes without, in which case the challenge would be to identify the mystery sample by sensual properties alone. This tradition continues in Japan today among elite devotees of certain arts.

In Little Adventures in Tokyo, Rick Kennedy writes about an incense appreciation club that welcomes intrepid foreigners to its monthly meeting. Although ideally performed in a traditional teahouse setting, some modern clubs meet by necessity in rented high-rise conference rooms. The ritual still follows time-honored traditions, however. Tiny chips of fragrance-infused wood are placed on top of heated quartz squares, then passed around in specially crafted cups. The participant lifts the cup to his or her nose, curves the left hand over the cup to focus the scent, then “listens” to the fragrance. Connoisseurs can recognize and name several hundred scents.

Not surprisingly, among the cultural elite this refinement of perception extends to the appreciation of Japanese food. One of my favorite books on Japanese cuisine is Untangling my Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto, a memoir by food writer Victoria Abbott Riccardi, who spent a year studying chakaiseki, the spare but artistic cuisine that accompanies the tea ceremony. Abbott relates that in her first weeks in Japan, the ingredients of soups would “whisper” to her from the bowl until gradually she was able to determine the composition of a stock and its flavorings. She obviously possessed a natural talent; later training at a chakaiseki school would hone her skills.

Abbott elaborates: “The mark of a highly sophisticated palate in Japan is a person’s ability to distinguish slight differences between, say, ten different types of tofu, or sea bream, or soba. This knack for discerning such minute variations likely stems from the pastime monoawase….”

Of course, it’s not as if comparative tastings are unknown in the West. Wine tasting has a venerable history. More recently with the popularity of boutique and single-origin dark chocolates, it’s easy to buy an assortment of fine chocolate to stage your own tasting. But I didn’t really appreciate the full potential for a translation of the monoawase game to my own life until my son came home from preschool one day with a “flavors” exercise involving samples of sour, bitter, salty and sweet foods. My son and I quickly adapted the game by cutting out sour and bitter and focusing only on chocolate chips. The receiver would close his or her eyes and guess whether the sample was semisweet or milk or white chocolate—not as difficult as detecting hundreds of incense components, but diverting nonetheless.

I’m not quite sure how I made the leap from a preschool game to all-out taste-test mania, but a week or so later, I found myself baking four different recipes of chocolate chip cookies and inviting friends over for a twenty-first century monoawase party, American-style. My dining room table was laid out with four trays of cookies, each identified only by letter. The initial phase of the party involved thoughtful munching and note-taking by the adults after which we shared our impressions. I was surprised at how seriously my guests approached their task and how earnestly they discussed the differences in flavor and texture, the associations evoked by the classic recipe versus the variations. Obviously the pleasures of monoawase transcend time and culture. By the way, the hands-down winner of my first taste-test was my “Fuck You, Mrs. Fields” Urban Legend Cookies (the full explanation and recipe follow below).

The party was such a success, I followed up with tastings of eggnog (Mitchell’s in San Francisco is tops), the fruit and nut bread Christmas stollen (Café Zauner in Austria makes the best), vanillas in custards and cupcakes (Tahitian for custard, Mexican for cakes and cookies), and chocolate croissants from five different Berkeley bakeries (La Farine is the clear winner). In fact, dark chocolate tastings are now a common company dessert, because they’re easy, relatively healthy and make for good conversation. I never took it as far as say, a Cook’s Illustrated test where the chef-cum-detective tries a recipe with dozens of minor variations (2 egg yolks and 1 egg versus 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk—I guess it matters!). However, my friends have gotten used to parties that require note scribbling. Still, no one’s ever turned down a taste-test invitation yet.

There’s no doubt that taste-tests challenge and ultimately heighten the senses. First and foremost, the encounter forces me to slow down. I must pause to study each sample visually, then “listen,” to its scents and flavors and textures, or in other words open myself to its voice in order to transform its essence into my own words. Often after each item is sampled, a clear favorite will emerge. I learned that I prefer an almond flavor over a hint of anise in Christmas bread, or that Madagascar vanilla, which tastes fine on its own, is eclipsed entirely by Tahitian’s complex floral notes. Sometimes, as with the guidance of a German guest, I learn that chocolate produced in Germany falls roughly into two categories, with either undertones of coconut or coffee. But always the process of seeing, smelling and tasting, combined with the even more challenging exercise of articulating my experience, encourages me to pay much closer attention than I do when I simply chomp on a square of Valrhona as a snack.

Chocolate tasting for the sake of professional and artistic development? The writer’s life holds many challenges and disappointments, but in terms of workout programs, it doesn’t get sweeter than this.

Can monoawase work for sex, too? Most certainly. Swingers and the polyamorous have the luxury of actually comparing different lovers. Perhaps one could even line them up in a row—marked “A,” “B,” and “C” to “listen” to the scent of their skin and the flavors of their flesh? The possibilities are limited only by imagination and the partners’ consent.

Monogamous partners face the challenge of going deep rather than wide. However, as in haiku poetry, the limitations of form can inspire a profoundly creative result. A favorite contrast game involves oral sex and a cup of hot tea. Take a mouthful of tea, let it warm your mouth, and swallow. Then immediately put your mouth to your lover’s tender parts—for both male and female, the intense warmth is bound to elicit a gasp of surprise and pleasure. I haven’t tried ice water, but I imagine the juxtaposition could be interesting.

Another compare-and-contrast test might focus on the tactile—stroking your lover’s body with a piece of fur or silk or one of those sex toy store mitts that are fur on one side and leather on the other. Before and after comparisons can be enlightening as well. Is her sensitivity increased if she shaves down there? Is lovemaking enhanced if she’s wearing that schoolgirl uniform bought at half-price last November 1 versus the classic birthday suit attire? And since the costumes tend to run one-size-fits-all, what would happen if he wears it? The list could go on and on.

Compare and contrast. Once it was a meaningless exercise for Mr. Musgrove’s A.P. European History class. Now it’s a way to hone my writer’s skills, an excuse to eat lots of chocolate, a reason to get out that plaid skirt and white blouse. All of which are reasons to be glad a writer’s education never ends.

“Fuck You, Mrs. Fields” Urban Legend Cookies

I got this recipe from a friend, printed on what was clearly a tenth generation Xerox copy. On the top of the page was a brief introductory story. Apparently someone who works with “Jean’s mother at the American Bar Association” called Mrs. Fields and asked for their chocolate chip cookie recipe. The company representative said, “Sure, it’ll cost you two-fifty.” “Jean’s mother’s friend” told them to charge it to her credit card, thinking it was $2.50, but of course when she got her bill she was out a whopping $250. To get back at the chiselers, she’s sharing the recipe with everyone she knows.

A horrifying tale of corporate fraud indeed, except that a similar type of story has been circulating in one form or another since the late nineteenth century when the Waldorf Hotel supposedly overcharged someone for its famous cake recipe. In other words, this is a classic urban legend. Since Mrs. Fields happily shared her chocolate chip cookie recipe in a modestly priced cookbook, we can assume that someone was out to get her. A business rival, perhaps, or someone who was jealous of her perky good looks? Or maybe she was a target just because of the popularity of her franchise. Having done a compare-and-contrast of this recipe with a purchased Mrs. Fields cookie (would you expect any less of me?), I’d say these cookies aren’t as greasy as her real chocolate chippers. Rather, the oatmeal in the dough makes them closer to a Debra’s Special with chocolate chips—to my taste, the best of both worlds.

Cream together:

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

Add:

1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (sometimes I make it 1 teaspoon and it’s good!)

Mix together in a separate bowl, then add about half to wet ingredients. Mix on low speed until mostly blended than add the rest and fold in by hand for a more tender cookie.

1 cup flour
1 cup plus 5 Tablespoons oatmeal ground to flour in a food processor or blender
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Stir in:

1 cup chocolate chips or M&Ms (kids love holiday theme colors)
2 oz Hershey bar, grated on the large holes of a box grater
3/4 cup chopped nuts (if your kids will let you)

Form into balls the size of walnuts (or use a 1 Tablespoon scoop). Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for about 9-10 minutes. Cookies should be slightly soft; they firm up as they cool and even then they are best chewy rather than crisp.

This recipe makes 30 cookies or enough to take for a party and to keep a few for the family to sample, just to make sure they taste okay. You can easily double or quadruple it. The cookies are absolutely fabulous a few minutes out of the oven, excellent later that day, and really, really good the next day, but they start to go downhill by the second day—if they last that long.

Donna George Storey
April 2008


Donna is Cooking up a Storey in ERWA 2008 Archive.

______
"Cooking up a Storey" © 2008 Donna George Storey. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written


About the Author: Donna George Storey taught English in Japan and Japanese in the United States and has finally found the work of her dreams writing erotica. If you’re really nice, she’ll bake you a batch of her Venetian cookies, with layers of marzipan, jam and chocolate, that take a ridiculous amount of time to make and are (almost) better than sex. Her work has been published in dozens of journals and anthologies including Clean Sheets, Fishnet, Best American Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica and Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica.
Her first novel, Amorous Woman--a semi-autobiographical tale of an American woman’s love affair with Japan and a number of sexy men and women along the way—was published by Neon/Orion in 2007. It’s currently available at Amazon UK and from her web site (DonnaGeorgeStorey.com) in the US. Stay tuned for a big US launch in June 2008.
For more of her musings on sensual pleasure and creativity stop by her blog: Sex, Food and Writing



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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
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The Fold
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Two
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Fallen
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'08 Book Reviews

Anthologies

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Best Fantastic Erotica
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Best Women's Erotica '08
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Bound Brits (ebook)
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Deep Inside: Extreme ...
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Dirty Girls
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Hide and Seek
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Hurts So Good
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J is for Jealousy
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K is for Kink
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Lust Bites
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Open for Business
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Possession
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Rubber Sex
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Rubber Sex
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Seriously Sexy
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Sex & Candy
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The Shadow of a... (poetry)
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Spanked
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Tasting Her
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Tasting Him
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Tasting Him
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White Flames
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Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
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Yes, Sir: Female Submission
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Novels

The Art of Melinoe
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Demon by Day
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Gemini Heat
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Gothic Heat
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The Hidden Grotto Series
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The House of Blood
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In Too Deep
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In Too Deep
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Incognito
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Nicholas
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One Breath at a Time
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Out of the Shadows (ebook)
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Phantasmagoria
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Reckless
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Seduce Me
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Seduced by the Storm
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Serve the People!
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Signed, Sealed and Delivered
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Sunfire (eBook)
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Templar Prize
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The Wicked Sex
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Wild Kingdom
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Gay Erotica

Backdraft
Review by Vincent Diamond

Best Gay Romance '08
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Hard Hats
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Leathermen
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Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Donna George Storey

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
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The Night Watch
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Non-Fiction

America Unzipped
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Best Sex Writing '08
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Bonk: The Curious Coupling
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The Book of Love
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Casanova: Actor Lover ...
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Dishonorable Passions
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Flagrante Delicto (photos)
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The Flesh Press
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Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
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The Humble Little Condom
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Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
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Man O Man! Writing M/M...
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The Not So Invisible Woman
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Swingers: Female...
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Who's Been Sleeping in...
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