Category Archives: Writing Tips

International Authors Day: Join me for a week’s worth of giveaways

Did you know that July 18 is International Authors Day? Debdatta from Bookish Indulgences with b00k r3vi3ws has organized this brand new yearly event in order to celebrate authors from around the world.

In honor of this cool literary event, I’ve got a giveaway (see below!), but first let me tell you about some of my favorite authors.

I’ve always been a huge fan of recreational reading, and as far back as I can remember, I delighted in going to the library to check out new books. I typically tore through these books quickly, and often ended up re-reading my weekly library stack, impatiently awaiting our next trip! Back when I was a kid, I loved to read books in series. I voraciously read anything by Judy Blume (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret), Ann M. Martin (The Baby-Sitters Club), Beverly Cleary (the “Ramona” books), and even the Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal (which I later learned were actually ghostwritten by a team). I also enjoyed Nancy Drew mysteries, the Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol, and his Two-Minute Mysteries books as well.

Somewhere along the line I also discovered Shel Silverstein’s wacky poetry in Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Roald Dahl’s amazing characters like The BFG, Matilda, and The Witches.

As I graduated from the children’s section of the library, I began reading lots more mysteries, especially The Cat Who… series by Lilian Jackson Braun — most of which were passed on to me by my cat-loving aunt, who bought each paperback in the series. My aunt also passed along other books like Anne Rice’s vampire novels, and even Madame Bovary.

Besides storming the library and devouring my aunt’s recommended readings, I also enjoyed exploring my parents’ bookshelves, which contained Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts — a writer with the same name as my father. (Although he jokingly referred to it as “my book,” my dad isn’t actually the famous historical novelist. He does, however, have a lot of great stories that should be turned into a book someday!)

My middle school also gave me plenty to read, including The Pearl about 3,000 times, Something Wicked This Way Comes (turning me onto Ray Bradbury), Johnny Tremain, The Count of Monte Cristo, and even a few Shakespearean plays (I definitely remember reading Romeo and Juliet and wondering why a couple of kids my age would ever want to get married, ew!).

In high school I tackled books like Great Expectations, Fahrenheit 451, The House on Mango Street, Red Emma Speaks (a collection of Emma Goldman’s anarchist writings), and even the enormous unabridged English translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. I read a lot of British authors during high school, perhaps as a result of the curriculum but also due to a common teenage interest in dystopian literature. Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, as well as Huxley’s Brave New World influenced much of my world-view then. Poets like T.S. Eliot and Louis MacNeice, and humorists like Douglas Adams also took up residency in my brain. (Not to mention the Monty Python songs my BFF Jenna enjoyed singing between classes, which still haunt me to this day!)

In college I majored in Philosophy and read works from Plato and Aristotle, Descartes, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, and even Eastern philosophers like Lao Tzu (or Laozi), Confucius, Mencius, Sun Tzu (Sun Zi) and Vyasa (the scribe and incarnation of Vishnu to whom the Bhagavad Gita is attributed). I found that I preferred Existentialism, and began to explore the works of more international authors like Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Jeanette Winterson, Leonard Cohen, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. I also enjoyed reading poems by Dorothy Parker that suited my dry sense of humor, as well as her barbed book and theater reviews, which eventually inspired me to begin a little magazine of my own.

And now? My favorite authors still wander all over the map, from David Sedaris’ humorous essays to Paul Auster’s postmodern rambles to Jorge Luis Borges’ and Murakami’s magical realism to Anaïs Nin’s erotica to classics I like to re-read every year or so like Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I love novellas, mysteries, books that play with language, authors that break the rules and bend genres. I love fraud memoirs, like JT Leroy’s Sarah and James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. I love weird and wonderful books, and the authors who made them great.

In short: I still love reading, and always wish I had more time to devote to it. But, like any author, I must eventually pull away from reading and turn back to writing my own books. Hopefully at least some of the greatness of the writers I’ve read throughout the years sticks with me and inspires my own stories to aim higher and give readers something new to ponder.

The Giveaway

To celebrate International Authors Day, I’m giving away a super awesome Book Lovers prize pack!

One lucky prize-winner will receive everything in the pack, which includes:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

AND!

I’m also giving away copies of my ebooks to the first 10 people who comment on this post. You can pick your favorite from amongst these titles:

HOW TO WIN

  • To win one of my ebooks, just comment on this post with the book you’d most like to win and why. (Winners of this contest can be based anywhere in the world.)
  • To win the Grand Prize, just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below. (Winners must be based in the U.S. for this contest.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DON’T FORGET TO HOP!

For a chance to win even MORE prizes, don’t forget to visit the other blogs in the International Authors Day Blog Hop. All authors are offering unique prizes on their individual sites, plus there’s a chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card from the hop’s organizer, Debdatta.



Horny Hump Day: Fucking Anais Nin

horny-hump-day

Happy Horny Hump Day!

I’ve joined a weekly blog hop for authors that post 3 saucy sentences each Wednesday. Simple, straightforward, sexy. So without further ado, here are 3 steamy sentences from my short story “Open Letters to Famous Writers” (featured in the Book Lovers anthology):

You did take my breath away, with stories that had me touching myself the way I pictured one day touching you, as your dirty words splashed from your painted lips. You were my first contract come, Anaïs. And you’ll always be the best, even now that I’ve got a stable full of talent to trot out every night.

Panting for more? Grab a copy of Book Lovers from your favorite bookseller to find out what happens next — and stay tuned for next week’s Horny Hump Day!

Beat that case of the Mondays with “Aux Champs-Elysées”

Drinking my coffee this morning, I’ve got Paris on the brain. That’s a good thing, given that my WIP is set in the City of Lights!

Here’s my Paris mug, keeping the caffeine flowing:

And this is the song currently playing in my head:

Not too shabby for a Monday. What city would you like to be transported to today?

Enter the .ninja

My hosting provider recently sent me an email that piqued my curiosity:

Apparently they’re now offering .ninja domain names.

ninja-domain

That’s right: I can now call my website LauraRoberts.ninja to indicate my stealth and cunning. How awesome is that?

Okay, the bad news is that Ninja.ninja is already taken. (Boo, hiss!) But it’s been making me think about all the magical possibilities for this new domain extension. I mean, since I write about ninjas, this is obviously right in my area of expertise. I would be stupid NOT to buy a .ninja domain, right?

Of course, the reason they have started giving out .ninja domains is because they equate “ninja” with “guru.” To me, these are decidedly NOT synonyms. A ninja is quick, stealthy and deadly — a hired assassin who will ruthlessly go for whatever his (or her) objective. A guru is the guy you see meditating on a rug in the lotus position, thinking about world peace. Or the guy who is trying to swindle you into buying his next online course about how to sell ice to penguins in the Antarctic. Ew.

Guru” stinks of “sham,” for me. And, equally so, if you’re using the term “ninja” to generally mean “master” or “expert,” I think you’re doing it wrong. (Also, can I just say  that calling yourself a Ninja is, like, sooooo 2013?) So while I am certainly a ninja enthusiast, I am not actually a ninja. I can differentiate between fantasy and reality, unlike a lot of the characters who are no doubt gobbling up .ninja domains as I type this.

In sum, although I am tickled by the idea of being able to own a .ninja domain, ultimately I don’t think I will invest. After all, people are already confused enough by the Button Tapir.

Would you invest in a .ninja domain?

What’s a Button Tapper?

Whenever someone asks me for my email address or the name of my website, I usually get this question:

What’s a Button Tapper?”

Some even pronounce it wrong, asking “What’s a Button Tapir?” I guess that’d be some sub-species of this cute little creature:

20140520-131459-47699021.jpg

The elusive Button Tapir, absconding from his lair!

All joking aside, a Button Tapper is basically what it sounds like: someone who pushes buttons (or taps them lightly and rhythmically) for a living.

In other words, it’s a synonym for a Writer.

And what do writers do? They write! Hence today’s post, in which I introduce my audacious goal of writing a blog post every day – with weekends off for good behavior – for the next 90 days. Or until I run out of things to write about, which might actually never happen.

So why have I decided to test my writerly limits in this way? Three reasons.

  1. I like writing challenges, (see: NaNoWriMo, the 3-Day Novel Challenge, the Blogging A to Z April Challenge, #AStoryAWeek, etc.) and my summer could use a new one to make things official.
  2. I really enjoy blogging, but often get pulled away from it by my various other writing projects, and want to recommit to it.
  3. Blogging helps me connect with readers, something that’s been missing in my writing life lately.

Blogging daily used to be a big part of my writing routine, and it has slowly slipped out of my repertoire as I’ve moved onto other projects, so I’d like to get back into that habit of writing a post a day. Ideally, I want to blend my “private” writing (e.g. my current works in progress) with my “public” writing (e.g. blogging) in order to keep the stories fresh in my mind, and to give you guys and gals a chance to chuck some feedback at my head. (Please, no tomatoes.)

In short, I hope you’ll enjoy following me on my writing journey during the next 90 days — and beyond! And don’t be shy; bust out with your comments if the spirit moves you.

P.S. If you haven’t signed up for my mailing list yet, why not go for it? You’ll get a weekly digest of all my posts (NOT daily updates, so your inbox won’t get clogged), and I promise never, ever to spam you. You’ll also get a free copy of The Portable Laura Roberts for being so rad. So what are you waiting for? Click here to join.

Q is for Quiver

Quiver is a vibrating butt plug. It looks like this:

It’s also the only sex toy on the market that starts with Q. Marketing gurus, take note!

I’m actually pretty surprised there aren’t a ton more sex toys to choose from for the letter Q, given that there are plenty of Q words that relate to sex generally. Here are just a few:

  • queen
  • quim
  • queer
  • quiff
  • queef
  • quickie
  • quoit

Those are good for upping your Scrabble score quite quickly. You’re welcome.

Another thing I’d like to mention here is the issue of quality when it comes to sex toys. As I noted in my introduction to this series, I’ve been including affiliate links only to products that are sold by Babeland, because they’re one of a few stores that strive to sell only quality toys from manufacturers that they can trust. Babeland has also been in the business since 1993, which feels like forever, so they’ve earned my trust based on longevity as well as their core business ethics.

In case you’ve been wondering about how big an issue toxic and unsafe sex toys really are, here is a great article from Bitch Magazine on the subject. As writer Caitlin Murphy notes, sex toys are not regulated here in the U.S., even though they should technically qualify as something the FDA would monitor, being that most toys are used internally and not as “novelty products” as some are labeled.

Finally, here’s a link to a great list of “Superhero Sex Shops” from sex writer The Redhead Bedhead to help you find an ethical sex toy supplier near you. I would also add Montreal’s Joy Toyz to that list, if you live in Quebec; they’re a woman-owned company that sells online but also offers in-home sex toy parties for those interested in learning more about different types of toys. I’ve been to one of their parties, and it was really fun to get a group of ladies together for some drinks, sex ed and vibrator test drives. Highly recommended!

Have you ever been to a brick-and-mortar sex shop? What was your experience like?