Visiting the King(s) in Memphis

July 10th, 2013
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo visit Graceland

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo visit Graceland

It’s pretty much impossible to visit the American South without at least stopping by to see the King. Celebrity bear and bestselling author Teddy Tedaloo of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) fame just had to pop over to Graceland to pay his respects to the man who sang with such affection about teddy bears – and he took me along for the ride.

Ted had a blast checking out the home and the life of Elvis Presley. Being a creative artist and famous entertainer himself, I must say he was a tad envious of all those accolades “Elvis the Pelvis” received for his work. As for me, I think the writing was on the wall when I ended up having chocolate sauce spilled all over my trousers and shoes as we took a break for some ice cream in the Graceland ice cream parlour. So much for all my published books and fame (not fortune)….

I spent the rest of the day feeling…well…sticky. And on a hot summer’s day in a southern state with ants, this is not a good thing.

Hanging out on Beale (Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo)

Hanging out on Beale (Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo)

I had considerably better luck the following evening when we decided to visit the other king: namely B.B. King. Unfortunately he was out of town (he was probably out searching for that thrill that’s gone), but his nightclub was up and running for business on busy Beale Street, where I fared far better with an order of barbecued ribs than I did with Elvis’ soft serve. It was also Hog Night, so the bikers were out in force, showing off their nifty two-wheelers (and occasionally three). We even saw a werewolf biker.

Teddy Tedaloo gets down with the blues at B.B. King's

Teddy Tedaloo gets down with the blues at B.B. King’s

Or at least I think it was a werewolf. Perhaps that microbrew I drank was stronger than I thought.

I should tell you that Memphis is not exactly a town full of shrinking Southern violets. On the contrary, some of the ladies are quite, shall we say, forward. One afternoon as we were leaving a downtown parking garage, my friend was asked by the female parking attendant in a very no-nonsense soulful drawl: “Is that a tongue ring?” – followed by the demand: “What’s that for? Let me see it!” When my friend complied by sticking out her tongue, she was then asked: “Is that for sex?”

Only in Memphis.

Unfortunately Memphis has a very high crime rate. And unfortunately yours truly became yet another statistic of it. Was I robbed at gunpoint? No. Was I carjacked? No. In fact, I was safely sequestered (or so I believed) inside the living room of my friend’s house when the crime was committed. As I was chilling out with a glass of wine, little did I know that only a few feet away just down the hall my bath poof was being murdered by a dodgy local character who goes by the name of Udo. I mean, you only need to look at him to see the word CRIMINAL written all over his furry face. Talk about being caught in the act!

Wanted by Memphis Police Department

Wanted by Memphis Police Department

Out of respect for our lovely hostess, I didn’t bother telephoning the police. (However, she doesn’t know that I plan to sue for compensation.)

I suppose there’s a bright side to all of this: at least I didn’t take my bath brush with me. I dread to think of its fate had Herr Udo got hold of it.

As the locals can be heard say, Lord have mercy!

 

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Game of Thrones meets Thrones of Desire

March 31st, 2013

With the hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones launching its third season in America as we speak, it’s no surprise that the fantasy genre is attracting a lot more people into the fold. Adapted from the bestselling epic fantasy series A Song of Fire and Ice by author George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones offers viewers a hearty bite of the genre without requiring them to slog through a novel as fat as the yellow pages telephone book.

This has often been the case with epic fantasy novels (or high fantasy as it’s also known), most of which contain complex worlds that you need a road atlas to navigate. In an era that offers less and less leisure time, it takes a true devotee of the fantasy art form to be willing to commit for the long haul. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why some people just don’t bother with the genre. I know it has been true for me.

Another reason why some might give fantasy a miss is the perception that the genre is directed toward the younger reader. With the success of the Harry Potter books and films along with those of J.R.R. Tolkien, such a perception is understandable. Game of Thrones knocks any such perceptions out of the water, for it contains enough “adult” content to make your dear old Aunt Agnes in Hoboken blush (and she used to be a stripper!). This very subject was discussed by legendary fantasy author Piers Anthony in his foreword to my anthology Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and FireIn fact, it eventually led him to seek out alternative publishing models due to the overly “family-friendly” nature of many fantasy novels and fantasy publishers. He considered it restrictive, particularly in light of the fact that he was writing his novels for adults, not children.

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire

I wanted to address some of these very same issues in my Thrones of Desire anthology, offering readers epic fantasy that didn’t require a month of their lives to read while also offering epic fantasy for the adult reader. Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire is not intended for children. It’s sexy, steamy and at times, explicit – just like the TV series that inspired it!

Attracting readers who are the more hardcore devotees of the genre is no easy task. Indeed, for me the ultimate stamp of approval has been seeing the anthology on bestseller lists in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy categories. Although I have worked in fantasy before with my solo short story collection In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales, tackling epic fantasy was far more challenging, especially when I had to rely on other writers to understand my vision and help bring it to fruition. Let’s just say that I did a lot of finger crossing, hair pulling and wide casting of nets to bring in stories that offered that sexy epic fantasy flavour that we see with Game of Thrones and which makes it the popular TV series it is today.

As I state in my introduction to Thrones of Desire:

You’ll find it all right here: corrupt kings, lusty queens, handsome princes, virginal princesses, randy knights, wicked sorcerers, kick-ass heroines, vengeful witches, mysterious shapeshifters… and we’re definitely not short on a few dragons either!

Heck, all that’s missing is Sean Bean!

For those of you who enjoy spoken word, several of the contributing writers have performed readings of their stories (or enlisted professional voice-over actors to do so) and these can now be found on the Thrones of Desire website. http://mitziszereto.com/thronesofdesire/author-readings/.

So grab up your swords and call for your dragons and let’s get going!

 

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Hurricane Mitzi Hits Miami

November 26th, 2012

Everyone knows that South Florida is prone to hurricanes, and I’m afraid I made matters worse during my recent appearance at the Miami Book Fair International, where I was invited to speak on The State of Erotica panel. Erotica is the hot topic these days, thanks to 50 Shades of Grey or, as I refer to it in my blog post, 50 Shades of Nothing New. Since I had a new book to promote (Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire ) and since people are always asking me when I’ll be doing more appearances in America, I figured this would be a good way to show that I’m making an effort to be more visible in the former colonies.

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire

Well, the red carpet was laid out; however, it was not laid out for me. On the contrary. In fact, I had no idea that the real motive for my being invited to appear at the Miami Book Fair was, to put it bluntly, nothing but a thinly disguised plot for them to cozy up to someone I’m very closely associated with.

I knew the writing was on the wall when I arrived at the author hospitality suite and was asked almost immediately where Teddy Tedaloo was. Even the woman in possession of the media interview schedule remarked with forced politeness that I should have “brought the bear.” After all, how could I possibly expect her to come find me in the crowd when the photo on her printout was of both Teddy and myself? I had to concede the point.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I’d barely shaken hands with SiriusXM’s Kim Alexander from the Book Radio programme when the first thing out of her mouth was: “Where’s Teddy Tedaloo?” I felt like slinking beneath a chair. This continued throughout the day, even when I was speaking on the panel. At least two people in the audience asked where Teddy was – and need I say that he was very prominently mentioned in my introductory bio that was read off before the whole thing had even begun. Oh, the shame of it!

It appeared I’d made a major error by not bringing him with me to the book fair. A very major error.

May I take a moment to defend myself? I was operating with the best of intentions. By not taking Teddy, I thought I was sparing him some grief. You see, I normally do appearances in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe – and he always comes along for these events, be it literature festival, book festival, talk, or writing workshop. They’re very bear-friendly over on that side of the pond. However, I wasn’t too sure how welcoming of bears an American audience would be, or, for that matter, a Miami audience. (Have you met any bears in Miami? I haven’t!) Plus I generally do solo appearances, so there was the issue of whether Teddy would be happy being on a panel with several writers (all female) as opposed to only sharing the spotlight with me. And if the venue hadn’t thought to provide a chair for him to sit on… well, it could have been highly embarrassing for all parties concerned.

Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)

Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)

There was also another problem – and this was the real sticking point. Teddy felt snubbed. You see, he too, is now a published author. He’s the co-author of the quirky crime novel/cozy mystery Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) – and he felt (and rightly so) that he should have been invited to appear at the Miami Book Fair on his own merit and given his own slot, not playing second fiddle, or even third fiddle. Therefore he flat out refused to go to the book fair at all, opting to stay in bed in his pajamas all day and sulk.

A dubious Teddy Tedaloo as he checks out my author badge

A dubious Teddy Tedaloo as he checks out my author badge

If you think that’s bad, it gets worse. No one enjoys a pint as much as Teddy Tedaloo, so when he found out that I’d met up with Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh for a post-book-fair drink, well… he was none too chuffed, let me tell you. I, however, was. It was such a relief to run into someone from the homeland that when Irvine invited me along for drinks, I couldn’t say no. So in true British fashion, we headed on over to the nearest pub (or in this case a well-chilled downtown bar), where thankfully there were some decent beers on tap. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay out too late since I was tired and I had a testy little bear waiting for me back at the home of my Miami friends. I was in enough trouble as it was and didn’t want to exacerbate the situation by returning in the wee hours of the morning.

Mitzi Szereto hanging with Irvine Welsh at a local watering hole post-Miami Book Fair, minus the trainspotting!

Mitzi Szereto hanging with Irvine Welsh at a local watering hole post-Miami Book Fair, minus the trainspotting!

In retrospect, I suppose it’s just as well Teddy hadn’t been there or I suspect he and the Scottish wordsmith might’ve been going hand-to-hand in the drinks department until the joint finally kicked us outside into the street. As for the Miami Book Fair, hopefully next time the selection committee will know better not to snub a critically acclaimed author and major media personality. After all, it’s not as if they have a lot of ursine authors to pick and choose from, especially an ursine author with as much charm, good looks and talent as Teddy Tedaloo!

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Is it Illegal to Transport a Lizard Across State Lines?

November 12th, 2012

Yes, it’s a serious question. For one thing, I don’t know if he was underage. For another, well… I’m not entirely certain the lizard in question was fully consenting to the act. I mean, in some states you can go to jail for this kind of thing!

You see, the other day I discovered a lizard lurking outside my front door. When I shooed him away, he gazed up at me with such a woebegone expression of embarrassment and chagrin that I now wish I’d been a bit kinder and invited him in for a glass of wine and some cheese or at least a cuppa.

Anyway, I forgot all about him until I went to Chattanooga, Tennessee with the famous Teddy Tedaloo to meet up with a mate of his from “opp north” in England. Pints were on the agenda, and I was already running late. I was driving around the downtown area frantically trying to find my destination when suddenly I saw a familiar face staring in at me through the windscreen. Yup. It was my would-be intruder from the front door. Apparently he’d been there all the time, taking a nice leisurely snooze in that thingie where the windscreen wipers live (probably staying nice and cozy in a bed of decaying autumn leaves).

So there I was, zooming up and down the streets of Chattanooga with the little chappie clinging onto the hood for dear life. I finally parked near to my destination, at which point he scrambled down the hood of the car. And that’s the last I saw of him.

Teddy Tedaloo tying one on with his mate Ethan

Teddy Tedaloo tying one on with his mate Ethan

A pint of microbrew later (or its American equivalent, which is by no means a proper pint) and I’d forgotten all about the lizard. You can forget a lot of things when you go out drinking with bears. You should try it sometime.

It’s now been a couple of weeks since the event and frankly, I’m worried about the little guy. My dislike of his less-charming brethren is well known, having been honed and refined from spending time in South Florida and having the local versions sneaking into the house every chance they got, either to end up in the shower with me or to die behind a piece of furniture, leaving me to discover their mummified remains. But this hitchhiker… Okay. I’ve been won over. Slightly.

I can’t help but wonder if this creature that bears a tenuous resemblance to a dragon (minus the fiery snout) was hoping for a signed copy of my new anthology Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire when he’d first appeared at my front door. I mean, it’s possible. He might have heard there are some dragons in the book and figured he might know one of them. And if you think that’s far-fetched, is it any more so than a lizard hitching a ride across state lines? I’ve come to accept and embrace the far-fetched. Indeed, the more far-fetched the better! Ask anyone who knows me: I thrive on far-fetched.

Missing lizard last seen in the vicinity of downtown Chattanooga. Any information, please call Crimestoppers.

Missing lizard last seen in the vicinity of downtown Chattanooga. Any information, please call Crimestoppers.

I can only assume that Mr. Lizard is now happily ensconced in Chattanooga, Tennessee embarking upon new and exciting adventures and making new friends. I hope so anyway, because I feel quite bad about it and am not ashamed to admit that I worry about his fate in “the big city.”

Of course it’s also possible that he returned to his hiding place by the windscreen wipers and drove right back with me to where he’d begun. Why, he might be lurking outside my front door at this very moment, hoping for another opportunity to be invited inside for that wine and cheese. If not, I hope he’s enjoying life in Chattanooga because frankly, I kinda miss him.

 

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Thrones of Desire: A Foray into Sexy Fantasy à la Game of Thrones

October 9th, 2012

I know I’ve not been around for awhile here at my “Errant Ramblings” blog, so I wanted to give you a little update about my latest book release just so you know that I’ve not been skiving. (As if I’d dare!)

Those of you who follow my work have probably figured out that I like to do many different kinds of projects. I’d be bored if every book I did was the same – and I imagine my readers would be bored as well or, at the very least, feel let down. Therefore I decided to take a foray into the mystical worlds of sexy fantasy with my new anthology Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire.

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire

Now let me say that this isn’t the first time I’ve delved into the realm of fantasy. My short story collection In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales was a study in fantasy, albeit from the folk and fairy tale tradition. However, with Thrones of Desire, I’ve taken a leap off the cliff and gone the full Monty, grabbing onto a few kings, warriors, knights and dragons along the way, not to mention adding a bit of flavouring from the hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones (based on the bestselling George R.R. Martin epic fantasy novels). Oh, and I also grabbed onto Piers Anthony, the legendary fantasy author who lent his prolific pen to the book’s foreword. I mean, if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it right!

I’ve amassed an eclectic collection of stories from an eclectic collection of international writers, all of whom are deserving of the highest praise. I’ve got stories ranging from lighter fantasy fare to stories that would satisfy even the most die-hard fantasy lover – and there’s plenty of steam to keep those engines running too! There’s even a website featuring excerpts, contributor info and other bits of news that you can check out at THRONES OF DESIRE.

So for those of you who can’t wait for spring of 2013 and the return to the television screen of Game of Thrones, I’ve got the cure for what ails. Pick up a copy of Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire today (and don’t forget to pay for the book at the till – don’t just walk out with it)!

 

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Normal for Norfolk: The Literary Collaboration of the Century

July 13th, 2012

Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)I guess it was inevitable that I’d finally end up being completely usurped by my famous celebrity sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo. His popularity has continued to grow over the years, and many of my fans and readers have been going over to his camp. Obviously I don’t wish to begrudge him his successes – he deserves every bit of it! But what’s a lowly author to do when she discovers that her star is waning while that of her bear’s is waxing?

Why, write a book together, of course! I’m referring to the release of our new venture Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles),  billed in the publishing industry as a “quirky crime novel.” It’s the first in our new series featuring the diminutive ursine protagonist and unlikely hero Thelonious T. Bear – a Mini Cooper-driving photojournalist teddy with a fondness for deerstalker hats, cologne, and real ale.

Unfortunately for the hapless Thelonious, he keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, which accounts for why the spotlight of suspicion shines upon him in a murder enquiry. The fact that he’s far too small and far too short to be battering grown men with crowbars and hauling their dead bodies around makes little impact on the man in charge of the investigation: the bumbling Detective Chief Inspector Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk CID.

At the risk of sounding like a book publicist, if you like your crime and mystery a wee bit different, you’ll definitely get your shilling’s worth with Normal for Norfolk! Did I mention the flatulent dachshund, the tobacco-cured rock guitarist, the beekeeper, the celebrity TV chef, the whisky-drinking old granny and the 21st century’s answer to the Kray brothers? They’re in here too. There’s even a grumpy vicar. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if the county of Norfolk appoints Teddy and I their official authors laureate!

Not surprisingly, the novel is taking off big time with the ursine community. Ted’s furry friends (and even those who aren’t so furry) are rallying around the novel like gangbusters, giving it some major paws (and claws) up. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve been putting my eggs into the wrong baskets all this time. I mean, here I’ve got a slew of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, and yet I’m not getting nearly the amount of cheering and celebration and recognition that Teddy is. Hmmm… Funny, that.

Mitzi Szereto & Teddy Tedaloo (photo credit Eric Schneider)

Mitzi Szereto & Teddy Tedaloo – The hottest literary partnership of 2012!

As for my new literary partnership with Mr. Tedaloo, some of you might be thinking that I’m trying to get a free ride on someone else’s coattails. Sure, we’ve seen it before – writers who can’t come up with their own stuff and freeload off someone else’s labours, even latching on to a bigger name to gain some glory for themselves. I’m afraid that in this particular instance I might be guilty of the latching-on business. But times are tough, and it’s not easy trying to make a living as a writer. To stay alive as a writer, one must expand one’s literary horizons – and expanding my literary horizons is something I most definitely do.

It’s always good to keep folk wondering (and hopefully wondering with anticipation) what you’ll come up with next! As for riding on coattails and all that, I should tell you that Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) was in its inception long before the film “Ted” showed its face in cinemas or was even being spoken about. Besides, our hero Thelonious doesn’t use foul language like (ahem) a certain animated bear. Which is not to say you won’t find some foul language in the novel. When you have Vinnie and Desmond Clark, two thugs from Bow, East London featuring prominently in the book, you’re bound to run into that sort of thing. So for that reason I’ll give our novel a PG rating.

So go on, you lot. Buy your print or e-book copy of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) now, because if you don’t…well, maybe Teddy and I will need to have a friendly word with the Clark brothers. And I don’t think you really want that, do you?

(Watch the book trailer!)

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50 Shades of Nothing New

May 14th, 2012

bow tie

I figured that since so many journalists and broadcasters keep interviewing me and asking me for quotes about the recent publishing phenomenon of 50 Shades of Grey, I thought it was time I put in my two pence’ worth right here at my blog.

Now I’m the last person to rain on anyone’s parade, especially another author’s. Those of us who toil in this usually thankless and poverty-stricken profession know all too well how difficult it is to make a living, let alone garner the kind of phenomenal success now being enjoyed by 50 Shades author E. L. James, who, up until this time, wasn’t even a professional author (and there are many who would argue that she still isn’t). However, as a writer and editor who does quite a bit of work in the area known as “erotic literature” or “erotic fiction” or “erotica,” I’m truly in the dark as to what all the fuss is about.

James’s novel (and their many continuations) focus on a BDSM relationship between a “submissive” young woman and a “dominant” man. The book evolved from her fan fiction site for Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novel Twilight. Though unlike Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey has lots of sex in it.

Explicit sex. And some of it is considered kinky depending on what church you go to.

Err… okay. So what? Is this anything new? Has no one ever written these kinds of novels before? Has no one heard of the similarly themed classic The Story of O? Has no one seen the gazillion erotic novels that have been published over the last few decades detailing precisely the same plotline, replete with salacious details? Has no one noticed the amount of explicit sex to be found on the pages of what are considered to be “mainstream” as well as “literary” novels, not to mention “women’s fiction”?

The fact that 50 Shades appears to be geared toward women readers also seems to have raised eyebrows. I guess all those Black Lace erotic novels written by women for women never existed, not to mention the many similar publishing imprints that have been doing the exact same thing for years, all vying for the exact same audience – an audience which appears to be reading content that has now become commonly known as (*gags*) “Mommy Porn.”

What I’d like to know is, where have all these goggle-eyed readers and journalists been living – in a cave? Even if you’re sweet sixteen and have no literary history under your belt, a visit to the local bookshop or a perusal of the steamy books on offer at Amazon will be sufficient to educate you that these kinds of novels have been around for eons. Some are well written, some poorly written. But this phenomenon is nothing new. For the media and reading public to suddenly make out as if Ms James has invented the erotic novel is a slap in the face for the multitudinous authors both past and present who have been doing the same thing – and quite possibly doing it better!

Of course many of these authors are hoping that the huge success of 50 Shades will translate into greater success for their own books. And perhaps it will. Whether it does anything to improve the actual quality of material being written remains to be seen.

Frankly, I have my doubts.

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Mitzi, Teddy and Kevin Spacey in the Garden of Good and Evil

February 26th, 2012
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo hanging out Savannah's on River Street

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo hanging out on Savannah's River Street

For those of you who have been following our travel adventures on Facebook, you’ll likely have noticed that my famous bear Teddy Tedaloo and yours truly are recently back from a trip to the South, y’all! – in particular, Savannah, Georgia, land of moss-draped live oaks and more ghosts than folk who are still alive to draw a breath.

Ted had an invite to visit actor Kevin Spacey and I had an invite to visit the cemetery – the Bonaventure Cemetery, to be precise. If that sounds like a quirky way to spend a holiday, then you clearly don’t know us very well, as quirky is our modus operandi – in fact, the quirkier the better!

Teddy Tedaloo visits Kevin Spacey by Forsyth Square

Teddy Tedaloo visits Kevin Spacey by Forsyth Square

While Ted was busy sipping mint juleps with our Kev (aka “Jim Williams“), I was busy dodging branches of moss-laden oaks (along with a few headstones) looking for Talen Dashkovar, the handsome (read “hottie”) blood-sucking vampiric star of the hit American television series set in Savannah called “The Blood Moon Kiss” and, by coincidence, the star of my Southern Gothic short story of the very same name featured in my recently published anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic RomanceNow there’s a coincidence you can really sink your teeth into!

Looking for Talen Dashkovar in the Bonaventure Cemetery

Looking for Talen Dashkovar in the Bonaventure Cemetery

I suppose it was inevitable I’d meet up with him at some point, especially when you consider his close resemblance to Ian Somerhalder (aka “Damon Salvatore”) from another hit American TV series, “The Vampire Diaries,” which is an obvious rip-off of “The Blood Moon Kiss.” (They’re just lucky I haven’t sued.)

Fortunately, I managed to survive my cemetery date without losing too many pints of blood. As for Teddy, I’m afraid he ended up worse for the wear from his own social engagement. You see, he really tied one on with Mr. Spacey. I do declare, I even heard The Lady Chablis had to intervene between the two gents before they came to blows. Rumour has it they got into a scuffle over a woman. Or was it a pint? Knowing Ted, it must’ve been a pint. He’s a bear who has his priorities right – and he’s not inclined to lose in battle. Hmmm… I wonder if all our years of living in Britain has made him a wee bit too blokey. I do worry about him sometimes.

Teddy Tedaloo kicks Kevin Spacey's ass

Teddy Tedaloo kicks Kevin Spacey's ass

Anyway, it turns out we felt right at home in Savannah. We ran into a couple of good old boys in the form of an Irishman and a Scotsman on the very same day – now I ask you, how much better can it get? It’s always reassuring to meet people from the old country when you’re travelling. The fact that the Scotsman later plied Teddy with pints of Scottish ale at a local Scottish pub is another story.

Needless to say, at least we didn’t get thrown out of the joint. I’m just glad Spacey didn’t turn up, especially after the earlier bloodshed. I suspect Kev’s going to want some kind of rematch – I mean, why else do you think he’s always hanging around London? That Old Vic theatre stuff is just an excuse. Truth is, he’s stalking Ted. And yes, I agree this isn’t the most dignified behaviour for a man who’s received an Academy Award.

As for dignified, I’m afraid our trip took a slight turn for the worse when Savannah’s version of the Old Bill decided to take matters in hand.

We'll go quietly, Officer.

We'll go quietly, Officer.

Oh, well… I can always write a prison novel.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mitzi Szereto interview on The Hammer Show

February 9th, 2012

I recently had a chance to chat with Ross Hemsworth on his UK web radio programme The Hammer Show and a good time was had by all! From the controversy surrounding my recent novel Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts and my work on Mitzi TV, to celebrity culture and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s animal cruelty involving his own dog – no subject is immune!

Tune in for some lively discussion and a perspective on the world from both Britain and America. Clink to listen to the replay of the interview at:

http://thesop.org/story/nailing-it-international-celebrity-and-erotic-author-mitzi-szereto-up-close-and-personal


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The Plight of the Harried Anthology Editor

December 20th, 2011

Oh no, not another one!

Read my lips. Or should I say, READ MY SPECS. I guess it was a matter of time before I had to let loose with a tirade about writers who just can’t follow directions. Aside from being a writer myself, I’ve edited a number of anthologies, so I have some experience seeing things from the editor’s seat.

It isn’t what you’re likely thinking, ie having to sift through dire pieces of fiction to unearth the jewels. No. It’s receiving submission after submission that bear not the slightest resemblance to the detailed specs I set out in my calls for short stories. Frankly, I don’t understand it. The entire point of listing these specifications (aka “submission guidelines”) is for writers to understand what it is I’m asking for, with the goal being to inspire them to write something that might fit the bill. It’s a proven method and generally works. Most of the time.

Or make that some of the time.

Or make that less and less of the time.

All I can think of is that some of these writers must have been clearing out their knicker drawers (or, in this case, their short story drawers) and said, “Oh, here’s a story I wrote about an auto mechanic and a duck living on a desert island. I’ll send it over to Mitzi for her sexy epic-fantasy anthology, Thrones of Desire. After all, she doesn’t have anything else to do!”

Err… think again, mate.

As an editor, I always try to be polite when rejecting a story. I know how tough and heartbreaking this business is, and I likewise know that the people who work in it often don’t give writers the time of day, let alone a polite note of rejection (or any kind of note even acknowledging their existence on this planet). But it’s getting harder and harder to be polite, especially when many of the submissions that show up in my inbox are so far removed from what I’ve asked for that the chances of my accepting the work (even with a LOT of revising and editing) is as likely as former Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi returning from the dead to lap dance in a Texas truck-stop strip joint.

Why do writers do this? They are not ingratiating themselves in the minds and hearts of editors by sending over completely inappropriate material. Heck, we’re not even talking about the quality of the story, but the fact that the story is just plain WRONG. I compose detailed guidelines so that writers will know exactly what I’m looking for and, even more importantly, what I’m NOT looking for. It’s supposed to save time – both my time and the writer’s time. But far too many people are not paying attention.

There are a lot of anthologies out there and a lot of editors. However, each anthology is different and each editor is different – that’s why we put together these writers’ guidelines! They’re there to help and guide writers and give them a fighting chance to compete in the submission process. It’s no wonder that so many publishers have slammed their doors on writers, electing literary agents to be the gatekeepers of what comes through the door rather than leaving that task to editors.

I don’t understand what’s so difficult about following directions, especially when they’ve been clearly laid out and are accessible from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Is it just a sign of the times? – a general sloppiness and laziness combined with an increasingly poor work ethic? Because I doubt this occurred to such a level in Dickens’ day. Heck, I’ve lectured in creative writing at several universities and I didn’t have this much trouble getting my students to follow directions! Maybe it is a sign of the times, as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get anyone to do any job right, let alone do the job at all.

I’m certain many writers who have appeared in my anthologies will tell you that I offer a lot of encouragement, support and sage editorial advice on their work, so it’s not a matter of “grumpy editor.” I work hard to put out a quality project, and I expect a modicum of attention paid to the submission guidelines by those who aspire to be in it. And that includes appropriate formatting, and attention paid to grammar, spelling and punctuation. I’ll remember a writer with more fondness who can’t write his or her way out of a paper bag, but who sends me a properly formatted and tidy story that at least tries to fit what I’m asking for. Writers can always improve their writing. But sloppiness? There’s no excuse for it. Nor is there any excuse to send me a story that has nothing to do with the theme of my book.

I can only assume that the acceptance of electronic submissions is adding to the problem; after all, it’s free to send material by email, so writers can send anything willy-nilly without having to pay for it. Perhaps they might think twice if they have to make a trip to the post office and open up their wallets, especially if the cost involves international postage.

If my blog post has ruffled a few feathers, so be it. After all, I’m the author of Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, so a few ruffled feathers are water off the author’s back. Nevertheless, if you’re a writer and can see your reflection in the mirror of my words (how’s that for literary?), then maybe it’s time to do something about it. You are not serving your best interests by sending an editor inappropriate work. It’s pointless, it’s annoying, and it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Time is money. And most of us don’t have enough of either.

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