Posts Tagged ‘shortstories’

The Gothic Doth Returneth with Darker Edge of Desire

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

I love Gothic. So it’s probably no surprise to my readers that I’ve done another book with the Gothic at its core – Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance. A follow-up to my anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance, Darker Edge of Desire does just what it says on the tin and a whole lot more. This time I’ve given this cross-over collection an even more jagged edge than its predecessor, since I know how much you like jagged edges. If you’re expecting a smooth ride, you won’t be getting one!

What you will get are 14 stories from a cast of awesome writers who aren’t afraid to explore the dark side. You’ll also get interesting commentary in a foreword from Kate Douglas and afterword from Rachel Caine. As with many of my titles, I like to mix and blend genres and I’ve done so with this one as well. You’ll nibble on a bit of horror, paranormal romance, fantasy, suspense and even steampunk, not to mention meet a few ghosts, vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters. You’ll even run into a famous literary character along the way. Perfect for a cold winter’s night, eh?

Oh, did I mention there’s sex in the book? 😉

Be sure to keep up with the latest Darker Edge of Desire news on the Facebook fan page, including book reviews, interviews and, of course, everyone’s favourite – book giveaways!

Teddy Tedaloo opens the box of author copies

Teddy Tedaloo opens the box of author copies

 

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

Tuesday, 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)!

 

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

Sunday, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Plight of the Harried Anthology Editor

Tuesday, 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.

Performance Reading with Mitzi Szereto and “Alf” the Cockney Devil

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Mitzi Szereto reads an extended excerpt from her short story “Hell is Where the Heart is” with “Alf” the Cockney Devil, played by Bob Boyton.

“Hell is Where the Heart is”, a Mephistopheles-inspired tale of a woman who sells her soul to the devil to get back the man she loves, was originally published in Mitzi’s anthology of short stories entitled Getting Even: Revenge Stories.

Performed in the corridors of the Royal Festival Hall, London in autumn 2008. Produced and directed by Paul Atherton of Simple TV Productions.

(It’s a long ‘un, so be sure to let the video fully load before viewing! You might also get improved playback if you click the lower right corner to take you directly to the Vimeo site.)

Hell is where the Heart is – Mitzi Szereto & Alf (Bob Boyton) – Reading an excerpt from Paul Atherton on Vimeo.

Erotic Writing and Garlic

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo on the Isle of Wight ferry (on calmer seas)

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo on the Isle of Wight ferry (on calmer seas)

My sidekick Teddy Tedaloo and I are recently back (along with a cold) from our yearly jaunt to the Isle of Wight, where I was teaching my Literotica erotic writing workshop. Not unusually, it was a weekend filled with wind and rain and choppy seas. In fact, it was so dodgy on the way over that I’m certain I saw a few passengers on the ferry (and even some of the crew) texting the contents of their last will and testament to their solicitors.

As for me, I’m planning to leave everything to Ted and miscellaneous animal charities. Oh, but we were talking about my workshop, weren’t we? Well, it was yet another successful weekend as I witnessed writers breaking through their literary blocks and actually turning out some sexy prose that didn’t sound like something you might see written on the stall in a public toilet. Mind you, I threatened to chuck them off a cliff (and yes, there was a cliff nearby) if they so much as even dared to write something cringe-worthy. And having some muscle along with me (Ted), I’d clearly scared them into submission. (Notice all the double entendres?)

Although the weather proved inspirational to the writers, even more so was the howling and moaning they were treated to during one of the writing exercises I assigned. I’m sure they thought I’d brought along my own sound effects for the course, only to discover that the howling and moaning was not of the human variety, but instead belonged to the venue’s resident dog. I tell you, I’d never seen so many crestfallen faces in my life!

Now I’ve heard of students giving an apple to the teacher. But giving a bulb of garlic? Well, folks, you heard it here first – one of my students actually came up to me during a session and presented me with a bulb of garlic. Okay, so it was roasted garlic, and it was local to the island, but I’m not entirely sure how to take this. I wonder if it was some kind of weird karma thing, since the evening before I left for the island I received the publishing contract for my new anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance, a book I’ve had in mind to do for the last four years or so. And you can’t get much more gothic than garlic!

We also had a journalist from a popular women’s magazine on board to do a feature on me – and I got her writing some pretty good stuff, too. As for the photographer who accompanied her, although quite a few shots were taken of me, need I say who, as usual, stole the show? Yup, you guessed it. It seems the photographer was quite taken with Ted (who isn’t?), and frankly I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he ends up on the cover of the magazine. As for the journalist, I’m hoping she’ll at least finish the article she’s writing before quitting her job to take her chances in the big bad world of erotic writing.

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo at the Village Inn pub

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo at the Village Inn pub

As I usually do on these Literotica weekends, I availed myself of the local pub in Shanklin village (along with some local ale) on the Saturday evening, since there’s always live acoustic music happening. Tragically, the hottie from last year wasn’t there anymore (*sobs*), but there was a chap playing guitar and singing, and he was very appreciative of his audience. In fact, he told everyone that he’d never performed for a bear before, then proceeded to dedicate a song to Ted. Man, I never felt like such chopped liver in my life.

Before it was time to embark on the high seas back to the mainland, along with the hell that is known as “commuting through London,” Ted and I were treated to a lovely country pub lunch by our friend Ray Allen, who’s best known for creating the hit BBC TV series “Some Mothers Do Ave Em.” Ray absolutely adores Ted, and was thrilled to have an opportunity to hang out with him again (the last time we all met up was in Wales at the Caerleon Writers’ Holiday, which Ray and I both do gigs at). I had the best pie in my life, and had I not been looking at such a long journey home, I would’ve had an entire pint of the local ale rather than just a half.

Teddy Tedaloo meets The King

Teddy Tedaloo meets The King

Of course, the whole getting-home shtick is never without its usual drama – and like our return journey from the Wordplay book festival last month in the Shetlands, there was yet another strike on the London Underground. I was stressed out by the time I reached Waterloo station, but the gods were watching over us, and we got there in enough time to catch the tube before it shut down completely. I also had my faith in Englishmen restored (well, for a few seconds anyway) when a lad on the train insisted on carrying my suitcase up some stairs, and kept asking me all about myself, at which point he introduced himself as Ian.

Ian. Do  you think this could be yet more of that weird karma at work? Probably not. Though he didn’t tell me his surname, I’ve a sneaking suspicion it wasn’t Somerhalder!

Mitzi’s Reading in Vienna, Austria

Friday, July 24th, 2009
Author appearance in Vienna

Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo at her author appearance in Vienna

For those of you who were unable to be there in person, you can hear me read an excerpt from my short story “Odalisque” (from my anthology Foreign Affairs: Erotic Travel Tales), which took place at Shakespeare & Company Booksellers in Vienna, Austria on 17 July 2009. This had to be the hottest night of the year, but thanks to Teddy, copious glasses of mineral water, and a bit of unexpected inspiration from the synagogue next door (now that’s MY secret!), I managed to survive without melting away completely!

Watch the Video on YouTube:

Fairy Tales Can Come True (Well, Maybe if They’re in a Book)

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
sleeping-beautys-bed

Mitzi Szereto's "In Sleeping Beauty's Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales"

You know that expression “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”? Well, I don’t even give her a chance to open her mouth! I apply this methodology to my professional life and to my personal life. Alas, the latter hasn’t proved as successful as the former, but we aren’t here to talk about that, are we?

Indeed, I’m not the kind of woman who takes “no” for an answer. When I started out in this literary gig, I knew the odds were hugely stacked against me. Hell, they still are. You think it’s easy to sell a book? – especially when you refuse to churn out the same shite everyone else does? I’m definitely my own drummer, and when I think what I’m doing is right, there’s no convincing me otherwise.

Case in point: my book of solo short stories Erotic Fairy Tales: A Romp Through the Classics. How I laugh when I hear some precious writer grumbling that their precious novel went to seven publishers before it finally found a home. Seven? What is seven? Try fifty, baby, then you can start grumbling! Yes, my little masterpiece went to about fifty publishers worldwide. I even had a literary agent working on it for a year (and believe me, I’ve lost track of the number of agents I’d submitted the thing to before I went with this one). Not that he did sweet FA, other than collect money off me for every conceivable cost, save for loo roll. (Wait, I think he did bill me for a jumbo pack of Charmin!) Half the publishers the manuscript was submitted to were ones I suggested to Mr. Literary Agent, the other half he came up with – and they were totally off the wall, including some tiny press in Georgia that only publishes poetry. WTF?

Fine, I’m used to always having to do everything my own damned self, since no one ever does anything right – and that’s if you can count on anyone to do it in the first place. But come on. I even had to track down an editor because my manuscript was returned unread, along with a letter stating that said editor no longer worked at said publishing house. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this a clue to find out who took his place in order to then resubmit the material  – and indeed, to submit to the original editor at the new publishing house as well? Apparently that took a bit of common sense and initiative, neither of which my so-called literary agent possessed. No wonder every time I phoned the guy he always sounded as if he’d been asleep… which he probably had been. Ah, well, I suppose it beat the New York agent who had a dog barking incessantly in the background while she tried to convince me over the phone to shell out 500 bucks to her to read my manuscript. Had I done so, I’m sure it would have ended up as one of those “my dog ate my homework” deals.

Undaunted by the blatant hopelessness of my situation, I resumed control of my product and re-embarked upon the quest to find a publisher. I submitted far and wide, to publishers in every corner of the globe. Had there been publishers on Mars, I would have submitted to them too. In fact, I was running out of publishers. Oh, the despair! Finally I put together my last batch of mailings and headed to the post office (which by this time was thriving thanks to my generous patronage). This was it. If it didn’t happen, it wasn’t going to happen – there was no one left.

The next morning my phone rang. It was a publisher, and she wished to speak to me about my fairy tales manuscript. I was asked to come to their San Francisco office for a meeting. Since I lived in Sonoma County at the time, this was fairly easy. Besides which, I always welcomed any chance to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge – I still do, in fact!

And that’s the tale of how Erotic Fairy Tales: A Romp Through the Classics finally saw the light of day. The book has sold so nicely and has been reprinted so many times that Cleis Press decided to publish a second edition – the now renamed In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales. I invited author Tobsha Learner to write a special forward, along with some words of praise on the back cover provided courtesy of author Nancy Madore. The book will be out in autumn 2009 and is already available (HINT HINT!!) for pre-order at the lovely Amazon.com.

So you tell me who was wrong: all those publishers who passed on my book, or me?