25 April 2009


Third time this week!  Whew!  I've really outdone myself here.  So here are some updates:

Looks like I'll have an author interview with Terry Gould (Purple Heart) for you guys in the next couple weeks!  I'm excited about that.  I also want to try to start a series of aspiring author profiles, if I can bribe some of my pals from Agent Query or Authonomy to answer a few silly questions and let me post the answers here. 

[edited to remove poem for publication]

24 April 2009

Erotic Poetry: A Duet

Over on AQConnect I belong to a crit group called Between the Sheets, which focuses on writing the best (read: least laughable) sex scenes possible.  Believe it or not, it's more difficult than it looks.  Another member, Max (blog here and website here) posted an erotic poem and offered a challenge for one of us ladies to write the counterpart from a woman's point of view.  This is what the two of us came up with:

by Maxwell Cynn

Legs spread before me.
No flower so lovely as
the folds of her labia.
Her nectar glistening -
drops of honey in the morning sun.
The fragrant scent,
her velvet cunt calls me.
It fills my nostrils,
dances on the tip of my tongue.
There is nothing like
this heavenly musk.
Brine, acidic,
the pungent taste of passion.
The elixir of life,
flowing from inviting womb.
Her flesh is hot on my lips,
searing folds of carnal delight.
My tongue parts the Cleft of Venus,
curling against her excited clit,
cupping a thimble-full of her draught.
She moans
No sound so pleasing to the ear as this
The soft whisper of pleasure,
unsullied by words -
emotion given voice.
My senses reel,
Sight, sound, taste, and scent -
combine in an epiphany of Eros.
My tongue seeks her depths
hungry to be embraced by her.
She arches.
Her hips pressing upward
to meet my desire.
I bury my face in her,
enraptured by her need.
She shakes.
Her body given over,
controlled by primal passion.
A muffled cry -
silenced by clinched teeth.
Her fingers tangle in my hair -
pulling me to her.
She spasms.
All control is gone.
My pleasure equals her desire.
Her body contorts beneath me.
I suck eagerly
at her delicious clit.
A deep guttural cry and
she is consumed.
My body pours its seed
into the musty air
overcome by -

by J. Lea Lopez

He is poised
erect before me. I take
pleasure in soft skin that does not
betray the strength of his
cock, firm and yet vulnerable beneath my
fingertips. With my hands, I coax
him to his full length,
girth. Tonight I ignore the heat
of my Delta and bow my head in
worship of him, my phallic
idol. His contented sigh
deepens into a moan as my tongue snakes
down, around. Head,
up again. Insistent
fingers tangled in my hair speak
of desire, of urgent

My lips close around the tip
of him and suck
slowly, to the rhythm
of his breathing. He lifts
his hips, pressing deeper, seeking
more of my molten mouth and I open
to him, slide my lips ever downward, taking him
deep. My mouth constricts
around his cock, slides
up, slides
down, faster, harder. I am
consumed by the need to
consume him to the end. His lustful
groans are subdued, but the tension
in his hips - struggling against the urge to thrust
against me - tells of the frenzy
growing within. I am
relentless. He succumbs to my
mouth in a hot
flow. I lick
the salt from my
lips and savor the taste of

23 April 2009

Review: How Can You Mend This Purple Heart

I finished reading How Can You Mend This Purple Heart, by T. L. Gould, a few days ago. I can’t tell you how nice it was to jump back into the story after reading the beginning so long ago. It was like old friends welcoming me back. So here’s a review.

In Purple Heart, you get to know a motley crew of Marines wounded in the Vietnam War as they recuperate on Ward 2B at a Navy hospital in Philadelphia. It’s told through the eyes of Jeremy Shoff, a Navy radioman who never made it to ‘Nam because of a terrible car accident. The preface states that Purple Heart is a story about “boys who returned from combat as men; men who left the better part of their youth, a bit of their souls and a lot of their flesh in Vietnam. It’s a story about longing to recapture the spirit of boyhood and rekindle the optimism and fearlessness of youth. And it’s about their struggle to be whole again—or at the very least, to feel whole.” That’s a perfect summary of this book.

But you didn’t come for a summary, did you? You came to see me pick it apart, right? Well, okay. But I’m warning you… I didn’t find much to pick at.

Mr. Gould’s style of writing may be different than some readers are used to. There’s nothing strange about the way he structures his sentences, or his grammar, or anything like that. He doesn’t use dashes in place of quote marks. He doesn’t do anything else way outside the norm. But simply the way he tells the story is a little bit different than the rigid first-person or third-person points of view we often come across. As I said, the story is told by Jeremy, in first-person narration. You could think of the book as one giant flashback, with a much-older Jeremy looking back and telling the story of these two years of his life. However, as you read, you will very often forget that Jeremy is there. Information that he may not have learned until very late in the actual timeline of things, he presents to the reader up front.

For example, each important character gets a sort of “nutshell” introduction. Not all at once, of course, but at the appropriate times each character is introduced to the reader with important information that you’ll think about every time the character speaks or acts: physical appearance, personality, some tidbit about their background, etc. I personally like that Mr. Gould chose this technique because it really fits the subject and theme of the book. Essentially, each introduction is not saying “This is who they are,” but is instead saying “This is who they were.” The book is about how the characters try to reclaim the lives they used to lead, the young men they used to be, but we all know they can never truly go back. They have to move forward, adapt, change. In order to fully appreciate who they become, we need a good idea of who they were, and Mr. Gould’s way of introducing each character gives us just that.

The way the first person narrator seems to disappear at times also mirrors how Jeremy would see himself in the story. He is dubbed a “non-combat motherfucker” by one of the other characters, and it’s a brand Jeremy feels to the core of his soul. He’s ashamed to be in the company of heroes when the only thing he did to get there is get drunk at a party before his deployment. Though he wants desperately to belong to this group, he can never be more than an “honorary Marine,” and his telling of the story shows just how much he valued and cared for the Marines on Ward 2B.

This leads me to the other characters - those Marines. Mr. Gould spins a tale in such a way that you’ll root for guys you might otherwise want to punch in the face. I even grew a soft spot for Earl Ray, a racist triple-amputee with one hell of a mean streak. (Can you guess who gave Jeremy his cherished nickname?) At one point, in the middle of the book, a Vietnam Vet-turned-war-protester comes to speak at the hospital with his long-haired hippie girlfriend on his arm. He denounces the war and says he’s ashamed of what he did as a Marine. Earl Ray just about flies out of his wheelchair to beat the crap out of the guy with his one good arm. In my own real life, had I been alive in that time period, I may well have been that long-haired hippie girlfriend, but caught up in the emotion of the book, nobody was cheering harder than me for Earl Ray to get in a couple good hits before the MP’s pulled him away.

Earl Ray aside, my favorite character by far was Ski. Alex Dante Yavoshky, known to his friends as Ski, has a quiet strength beneath his youthful innocence. The way it’s written, his Roosian accent is easy to hear, and adds a vivid dimension to his character. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that I envision the adorably toothless Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals ice hockey, if you’re wondering) every time Ski speaks. I cried when Ski received an unexpected visit and a very special Executive Order. (You’ll have to read the book to find out what I mean!)

So after all this praise, where’s the criticism I promised? I was engaged in the story right through to the last page. But once I got to the last page, I wanted more. I’m not talking a sequel or anything (though that would be interesting, to see how each guy ended up say, 10 or 15 or 20 years later). I just wanted a little bit more from the ending. A little more oomph, or more “the moral of the story is…” or something like that. But then again, why should an ending be completely definitive and sublimely happy, especially for a story like this? It ends on an ironic note, with Jeremy living up to his nickname a second time, yet unable to find in San Diego the same kind of camaraderie he found with the guys on 2B. I don’t dislike the ending, I just wish it could be different, in the same way you look back on a tragic event in your own life and say “If only it had been different.” But it’s not. So we learn, we live, and we move on, just like Jeremy, Ski, Earl Ray, and the rest of the Purple Heart crew.

As if supporting a fellow writer - one who’s trudging the publishing route on his own - weren’t enough reason to buy this book, the strength of the story is. I dare you not to fall in love with every character in the book, and I dare you not to come away from this story wanting to hug every soldier you meet. I don’t think you’ll be able to do it.

How Can You Mend This Purple Heart is available at http://www.purplescribe.com/

21 April 2009

A Self-Published Book

Not mine.  :-)  I became acquainted with Terry through a critique group on Agent Query Connect.  He started showing us chapters from his book, How Can You Mend This Purple Heart.  I immediately fell in love with the characters.  When Terry left the group, I was sad that I wouldn't be able to read the rest of the story.  We kept in touch via email, and he recently sent me a message saying he'd self-published Purple Heart!  He'd done some querying but hadn't gotten any takers, so he decided to do it himself.  I'm almost finished reading it, and I'll have a review in a few days.  Signed copies of the book are available through http://www.purplescribe.com/ so I urge you to pick up a copy and support the efforts of a fellow writer.

In other news, I made some significant revisions to the beginning of Sorry's Not Enough, revamped my query, and as soon as I go out and buy more stamps, I'll be sending out more queries!  I have a couple agents on my list who accept sample chapters with a snail mail query, so I'll be sending those out.  The insecure side of me hopes that if my query letter doesn't completely blow them away, then hopefully they'll take a look at the first chapter or so and decide they have to read more.

So later this week, in addition to the book review, I'll be posting some erotic poetry.  What?  Erotic poetry?  Scandalous!  Two poems, one of mine and one by a guest poet, Maxwell Cynn.  We also met through AQ Connect and he posted his poem first, then asked for a female counterpart.  I took a stab at it, and I think it turned out pretty well.  Stay tuned for that this week!