Posts Tagged ‘eroticwritingworkshop’

Mitzi and Teddy Hit The Shetlands

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Shetland IslandsMy famous furry sidekick and partner in crime Teddy Tedaloo (or McTedaloo) and I are recently back from a glorious weekend in the Shetland Islands of Scotland (aye, laddie), where I was invited to appear at the ninth annual Wordplay book festival. Though I’ve been to other parts of Scotland (see my blog posts 1, 2, 3), this was my first visit that far north, and I was warned of high winds that might blow me over into Norway, but instead I just ended up with my hair being blown the wrong way.

On the Saturday I did a talk and performed readings from my short story “Hell is Where the Heart is” from Getting Even: Revenge Stories and two selections from In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales. I think it went over fairly well, since I didn’t hear any snoring. On the Sunday morning I conducted one of my erotic writing workshops. The somewhat unusual fact that it was scheduled at 10am on a Sunday morning was pointed out to me by several people, and, though I worried that it might conflict with church services, I went ahead with it anyway, playing to a sellout crowd who clearly found some divine inspiration!

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo on the boat cruise

I tell you, it was all happening in Lerwick that weekend. Aside from Wordplay, there was Screenplay (the film festival), and even a blues festival taking place. Ted and I managed to squeeze in the screening of Requiem for Detroit from film director Julien Temple, who was in attendance. We even went on a boat cruise to Bressay and Noss, which left at least one person seasick (Ted was looking a bit green himself) due to the rough seas, though it was great fun when we went along at a swift clip. We were at the aft with some of the heartier passengers, hanging on for dear life to a pole, the wind in our hair (and fur), as we rode our watery roller coaster. It left me feeling unsteady and queasy for the next 24 hours, but hey, it was worth it!

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo with BBC Radio Shetland presenters Amy Fisher and Jonny Polson

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo with BBC Radio Shetland presenters Amy Fisher and Jonny Polson

When I landed in the Shetland Times, I figured I was a pretty hot commodity. I (along with Ted) was also interviewed by the presenters of BBC Radio Shetland’s arts and culture programme “Sideways”, and they were most impressed with Ted’s erudition and fine fashion sense. In fact, I suspect the young lady presenter quite fancied him (can’t say I blame her, Ted being an extremely handsome bear). I suppose with all this publicity it shouldn’t have been surprising that the entire town seemed to know who I was – from the local tourist office to the blokes who operated the tour boat (one of whom suggested I teach erotic writing to the other passengers). I tell you, I was feeling like a real celebrity. Until…

…I found out that Teddy had almost made the cover of the festival brochure. At that point I began to suspect that it might not have been me the festival folk wanted to grace their stages, but Ted. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been upstaged by him; however, things really became glaringly obvious when Julien Temple entered into a discussion with Ted about doing a film about his life, only to end up in tears (Julien, not Ted) when they couldn’t agree on a soundtrack. Julien wanted The Sex Pistols; Ted’s more a Temptations bear. He loves their song “My Bear.” (I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day…)

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo at Fort Charlotte

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo at Fort Charlotte

Which brings me to the subject of food. Did I mention the breakfasts at our hotel? You’d never get that kind of breakfast in London, EVER. I asked for a small kipper to accompany my other selections, and I got a kipper the size of a vintage Cadillac. And it was a real kipper, not some freeze-dried, shrink-wrapped, bargain kipper either. One breakfast was enough to feed me for an entire week.

Of course, no venture outside of my front door is complete without some mishap. My worst fear on returning home was the tube strike, which began at tea time on the day of the evening I was to fly back to London. When I arrived at Gatwick, it was pissing down with rain. However, the adventure had only just begun, for my suitcase had not arrived along with us. I suspect it had remained behind at Edinburgh airport (where we changed planes) to avail itself of the whisky-tasting table at the duty free. Note that I’d carried this piece of luggage with me for the two flights on the way up, but encountered a problem at Sumburgh Airport in Shetland, where my tweezers appeared to spark fears of a terrorist attack.

They searched my suitcase and everything in it looking for my sinister contraband – you’d have thought I had a bomb strapped to my back from the way they were going though my stuff. When they found the offensive item and threatened to take it off me, well… I wasn’t having it. I can’t buy those tweezers anywhere (and they never caused a problem before in a carry-on), so after a few minutes of discussion, they agreed to mail them back to me if I paid for postage. Then it was suggested (especially since the plane was a small propeller one) that I should just check the bag all the way to London. By that time I would have agreed to anything, therefore I hurriedly checked it, instantly regretting it and having an ominous sense of foreboding that it would not be arriving with me. All during the flight I feared the loss of my mobile phone charger, my camera charger, numerous items of clothing, my favourite black suede boots, the Shetland fudge and Scottish tablet I’d bought, bits and pieces from the festival…

Despite my scarily accurate sixth sense, my tale has a happy ending. The suitcase was recovered (and fully intact) and delivered to my home the next night, and Teddy and I are now making really quick work of that Scottish tablet and Shetland fudge!

If you fancy trying your hand (so to speak) at a bit of erotic writing, you can catch me at my Literotica workshop in the first weekend of October on the Isle of Wight.

(A bit of after-party merriment, featuring fellow Yank, Will Kaufman.)

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Mitzi Does Shanklin: Inflamed Passions

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009
Shanklin, Isle of Wight

Shanklin, Isle of Wight

Now I ask you, what better weekend to head to an island off the southern coast of England than a weekend predicted to be filled with gale-force winds and slashing rain?

Being Britain, you can never count on the weather or, for that matter, the weather report. However, this time the Met Office didn’t lie. It was everything they’d predicted and more. Good thing I was headed to the Isle of Wight to teach a writing course, not rooftop yoga! Despite the ominous warnings, the crowded ferry ride from Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde wasn’t nearly as exciting as I’d hoped. In fact, it was highly uneventful. We didn’t sink.

Shanlin, Isle of Wight

Rude local drink

I’m pleased to say that this year the island was really geared up for my arrival. They’d even brewed up a batch of some special stuff in honour of Literotica, my erotic writing workshop at the Old Grange. Hell, I was lucky to get the last bottle – apparently they were flying off the shelf at the local shop (which isn’t just for local people!).

Yeah, I know: everyone thinks I schlep down to the Isle of Wight every autumn just to teach my Literotica workshop. The truth is, I actually go there because I adore the local pub in Shanklin’s old village. Oh sure, I do find some time to teach, but I live for Saturday night when I’m done for the day and can go chill out with a pint of real ale and listen to some live acoustic music.

This year I was disappointed to learn that my usual pint of Village Idiot would not be happening; apparently the brewery had gone bust. So I opted for a very agreeable Caledonian ale, which had somehow made its way from Scotland all the way down to the Isle of Wight. Those Scots are robust folk, I’ll grant you that. Must be all that haggis.

It seemed the pub was expecting me. Heck, I should’ve brought along copies of my new book “In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales” and had a book signing! My usual table situated right next to the musicians was empty and virtually had my name on it, so I settled in for the evening, getting up close and personal to the lead singer/guitarist, whose repertoire this year was far better than in previous years. He also looked far better too. Not quite sure why that was, but hey, who am I to complain? The sight of his nicely bulging… umm… tricep as he strummed his gee-tar was a right treat after the rather mediocre pub meal I hadn’t particularly enjoyed. Unfortunately Vampira, his apparent girlfriend, was hovering around like the proverbial vampire bat, putting a damper on everyone’s evening!

Despite the musicians finishing up an hour earlier than scheduled, we were in it for the duration, and yet more Caledonian ale kept appearing in front of me courtesy of one of the workshop participants, a lively Irish lass who clearly didn’t want me to leave. And the sudden downpour outside wasn’t exactly encouraging me either. However, with the music over and Teddy waiting impatiently in our giant bed back in our room, I was getting edgy. So too, were the pub staff, as tables were suddenly being polished right in front of our noses, chairs set upside-down on table tops, and lights switched off.

Like can we take a hint or what?

Teddy Tedaloo decides to go boating

Teddy Tedaloo decides to go boating

And so passes yet another Literotica erotic writing workshop on the Isle of Wight. I wonder: will my regular table be waiting for me next year at the village pub? Will the same musicians be there entertaining the punters? Will I get guff off the bear for returning to our room so late?

Guess I’ll have to wait till autumn 2010 to find out.

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Wrecked on the Isle of Wight (Minus a Ship)

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Let me just say that rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

It was like a scene from out of an Agatha Christie whodunnit: an old manor house, a howling wind blowing in from the raging sea, mysterious and menacing creaks in the night. Whispers of “Let’s kill the erotic writing tutor” could be heard emanating from dark corners – corners where hands might jump out at any moment to wrap around your neck.

Or rather MY neck.

Six women and one man, all locked up for Literotica, an erotic writing weekend on the Isle of Wight. Sure, they looked so innocent and friendly on arrival. So who would suspect that beneath these civilised veneers lurked a bloodthirsty desire TO KILL? I myself suspected nothing. (Mind you, I rarely do.) I conducted my workshop just as I’ve always done, imparting a bit of professional and personal wisdom, and inspiring participants to write freely, to strive high, and to leave behind their erroneous assumptions that erotica is nothing but poshed-up porn. I could see I was winning the battle. These people were actually creating work that would have been equally at home in a respectable literary novel as it would in a respectable sexy novel. “Get rid of the top shelf!” I cried. “No more one-handed reads!” I cheered. And the crowd roared back, hanging on my every word.

So why should one of these nice people wish to kill me – and to kill me in one of the most slow and agonising ways possible – by poison? Was I too hard on them? Did I give too much homework? Did they take offence at my bear’s critiques of their work? Or indeed, was it even one of the workshop participants at all? Perhaps the mild-mannered Greek proprietor of our windswept country house was behind it. Now I’ve heard of not wanting to pay someone for services rendered, but come on – isn’t this taking things a bit too far? (Actually, I did kind of wonder why that plumber’s van hadn’t moved out of the car park for the entire weekend.)

I admit they were clever. They waited until after I’d signed their copies of Getting Even: Revenge Stories-(Christ, I knew I shouldn’t have brought that one along) – and The New Black Lace Book of Women’s Sexual Fantasies. Just think how much these copies would have fetched on eBay had their sinister murder plot actually come to fruition!

It’s hard to believe that the people with whom I’d enjoyed a friendly Saturday night pint at the local pub could, within only a matter of minutes, turn on me like that. I was fine up until then. Had they put poison into my untended pint while I nipped to the loo? Had they coated the rim of the glass with some deadly nectar so that when I raised it to my unknowing lips, I’d ingest the substance? Had someone truly NOT enjoyed reading their copy of Getting Even? I mean, everyone kept saying how they couldn’t wait to get stuck into it, especially the story I wrote. So what gives?

I suspect the physicist. As the only male in a group of women, he was already anticipating the worst from before he’d arrived on the island. Yet I did my best to make him feel welcome and comfortable. I even spent extra time with him chatting about such things as parallel universes and cloud computing as we sat drinking cups of milky tea. What more could I have done? Hey, was it MY fault that someone said (no it wasn’t me!) that all men are crap in bed? Okay, so I nodded to be polite. I mean, wouldn’t you have done the same if you’d been in my shoes?

As you can see, I survived the weekend, albeit quite the worse for wear. And yes, I’m booked again for yet another erotic writing workshop weekend next November. I wonder though if someone might be trying to tell me something. For on the final leg of my journey home, the man seated behind me on the train kept singing about Nosferatu.

Hmmm… I have been looking rather wan of late.

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Three Essex Boys and a Loft

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

How many eligible single women out there can claim they’ve had three Essex boys in their loft? What about how many eligible single erotic-fiction writing women? Bet you can’t even think of one!

Well, please allow me to introduce myself…

And, while I’m at it, let me introduce my three official loft men: Dave, Stu, and Steve.

Any time I need a suitcase down (or for that matter, one putting back up), I send off a text or email, and invariably someone bites. Even my landlady’s boyfriend has bitten. Hey, someone needs to negotiate that folding metal ladder and the multitude of suitcases and boxes and miscellany I have stored in my loft just waiting to come crashing down through the ceiling. I think I even have an old laptop stored in there. I can’t really be sure though, since I’ve never ventured up, preferring to leave this rather precarious task to others. For all I know, there might even be some Polish builders living up there. Thankfully my flat is only seven years old, or else I’d be worrying about the Germans too.

It’s becoming quite a competition, this loft business. In fact, I’m concerned there might soon be bloodshed. These lads are getting very possessive of my loft, grilling me as to who was in there before, and when. I mean, it’s MY loft, and what I choose to do with it is my bloody business. But no, I’ve got these guys asking me all sorts, as if expecting me to slip up and admit to some wild orgiastic scenario. And it got worse when Steve appeared on the scene. You see, I needed a suitcase down in a hurry, as I’d made last-minute plans to leave the country. I first texted Dave (whom, it should be noted, my loft lost its cherry to), but he couldn’t give me a definite answer and frankly, I was starting to panic. So I emailed Steve – who just so happens to be my landlady’s boyfriend. He’s usually the one who comes by my flat to do minor repairs that need doing, plus he works nearby, therefore I reckoned he was my best bet on this occasion. Well, Dave was none too happy when he found out that Steve (who’s a West Ham supporter) had been tinkering about in what he assumed was his territory. Then there’s Stu, who’s not exactly over the moon about Dave (and he doesn’t even know about Steve!). The other day Stu came by to take me grocery shopping and to sort out my suitcase for my upcoming residential weekend erotic writing workshop on the Isle of Wight. As he stood balancing precariously on the ladder, he quizzed me suspiciously as to when I’d last had Dave up my loft, seeming visibly relieved when I admitted that it had been awhile. Guess I’d better not tell him that Steve was just here this afternoon. It might be more than he can take.

Now don’t go getting any crazy notions that I make a habit out of collecting loft men, particularly loft men from Essex. But can I help it if I have three Essex boys all battling to get into my loft? I mean, it’s a nice cosy loft, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that so many want to get into it. Plus it has good insulation, which is a real perk in a cold country like England. I admit it’s a tight space, not to mention a tad dark up there, but hey, that’s what torches (flashlights) are for! And no, it isn’t all wham bam thank you ma’am either. I don’t have that kind of loft – and my loft men know it too. Why, it so happens that one of my loft men has even proposed marriage to me – and more than once, I might add. (And no, it wasn’t my landlady’s boyfriend! You think I want my rent raised???) The last time he (my maritally minded loft man) came by, he brought me an early Christmas present: an ice cream maker, the plan being for me to use it to make some Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream (or a bastardised version of it anyway) whenever my little heart desired. Last Christmas another of my loft men brought a gift for Teddy in addition to the ones he brought for me. I tell you, when you’ve got loft men trying to impress your bear, you know they mean business.

Maybe I should consider doing a new version of my book Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers, altering it to Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Loft Men. Or maybe I shouldn’t.

Oh, well, an eligible single American erotic-writing lass in Blighty can never have too many loft men, can she? ;-)

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Erotic Writing in Wales

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

Well, it was yet another lovely week at the University of Wales in Caerleon – my third time at the Writers’ Conference. My erotic writing workshop attracted a diverse group of men and women of all ages and persuasions, and a surprising amount of talent. Some excellent work was produced in a short amount of time, ranging from the poignant to the downright hilarious. I don’t want to play favourites by mentioning specific pieces, but yes, I did find myself moved by several of the works presented on the final morning of the course. What is always rewarding to me is when people tell me how I’ve changed their perspective on erotic writing and that I got them to do something they never believed they could do – and to be comfortable in doing it. One participant even wrote a charming little ditty about me and Teddy (my bear, if you’ve not figured that out yet!). And yes, it’s suitable for those of a more delicate persuasion. I should add that this wasn’t part of the homework I’d assigned, but rather a … well… dare I say, “tribute”?

One great thing about the conference is that I got fed and fed and fed some more (I don’t like to cook). I partook of two desserts a day; anything with cream was fair game – and I was prepared to fight till death for it too! Of course, having Teddy with me tended to put anyone off violence at the dessert section. I doubt I gained any weight though; the region is extremely hilly and after schlepping back and forth to the village enough times (no one in Wales seems to know what “schlep” means), not to mention on the campus itself, I probably ended up losing weight. And yes, everyone kept asking me where I put it. I do hope they were referring to the dessert.

On Monday evening, Teddy and I went along on the pub crawl (though I’d already been in my favourite pub the night before – The Hanbury Arms – where Alfred Lord Tennyson apparently went on the piss and where I had my toes bitten – and I’ll leave you to ponder that one). On Tuesday I paid yet another visit to the Roman ruins, which has the remains of an amphitheatre. It was a perfect day, the clouds were threatening overhead, a drizzle had begun, and I stood in the centre of the arena no doubt looking very peculiar. I also wrote something on a stone (using another stone as pen), but I’m not going to tell you what it was. It’s personal. On Wednesday afternoon I went on the excursion to Hay on Wye. Well, if you’re really into mouldy musty old books, this is your Mecca. Everyone ran off to find their treasures; as for me, I found some ice cream and a pair of one-of-a-kind earrings in an artsy little shop. Or at least I think they’re one-of-a-kind. Our coach driver was a roly-poly fellow from Brecon who made a lot of sheep jokes. All I know is, I’ve been to Wales many times, and I’ve yet to see any kind of dodgy activity with sheep. Mind you, I did notice a cow walking a bit funny.

Moving on from the profane to the sacred, the highlight of the week was definitely the Thursday evening appearance of the Cwmbach Male Choir, a cheeky bunch of Welshmen who performed for us and then as is customary each year, continued in the bar for another two hours till midnight, downing pints and singing everything from Elvis to weepy Irish ballads. When they left (threatening to kidnap both me and Teddy), a disco ensued, but it featured so much Abba that I was finally forced to seek refuge in the computer room to check messages and return pokes on Facebook. (I don’t care what anyone says: I am NOT going to see “Mama Mia.”)

Sadly, I couldn’t stay forever in that lovely land and had to return to London right at the Friday evening rush hour. The tube quickly jolted me out of my Welsh tranquility with its delayed trains, trains that didn’t stop where I needed to stop, and trains that just sat there because there was a backlog of trains. One can’t help but wonder how Britain actually ran an empire when they can’t even run a transportation system. But I’m not going to get all political here. I probably should stick to writing fiction. It’s easier.

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