On the sixth day of Christmas: Head in Book

Willingly suspend disbelief, if you will, readers – it’s still the sixth day of Christmas, ok? I’d really like to still get these all in before January 5th, which will mean a handful of posts a day most days until then, but forgive me. It’s still important for me to share what I’ve read and loved. Massive thanks also to Jade at Kink and Poly for saying how much she’s enjoying this mini-series.

So, Head in Book, aka Catherine. On the face of it perhaps a mummy-blogger, but once you start reading, so much more than that, even if you don’t have (yet, or never have any intention of having) children. Feminist, mum, lawyer and, as far as I can gather from our infrequent Twitter interactions, all round lovely lady. Oh, and her Twitter header is a picture of her bookshelf – what more can I say?

I tried to work out, reading through her archives, what post drew me into her blog and i think I must have clicked through from the post she wrote about the Michael Gove Of Mice and Men saga, or the Kirstie Allsopp ‘Just have a baby when you’re 25, darling’ furore, both of which I went on to write about myself.

I love her writing, and as usual, I had more than three posts that I wanted to link to here – for the first time though, two of them were consecutive posts, on totally different subjects. The first is a post from back in February, called How to talk to boys about periods, which I hadn’t read before today, but which struck me because a) I had noticed that going to the loo with small children is a pain for women, but periods hadn’t even occurred to me and b) there’s a paragraph in the middle which makes Catherine seem at one with her body and her menstrual cycle in a way that, at the moment, I can only dream of.

The two remaining ones are the consecutive posts, written in May. Marriage guidance for my six year old showcases Catherine’s humour and sees her daughter trade an X-box for married life in a mansion with a man who makes cake for a living. Seriously, what’s not to love?

And finally, Mother tongue, which resonated not only because of the shared languages-graduate background and love of words, but because I too have that habit of thinking ‘I don’t the like the word we commonly use for x or y – the connotations are all wrong.’ There’ll be a similar post from me soon, hopefully. Anyway, here’s an extract:

‘Words matter. Words don’t reflect what we see, they refract and reframe it. This isn’t the subject of a blogpost, of course, it’s the subject of a life’s work. But I have been thinking more and more, about the words we use around motherhood and the way in which language itself distorts our perceptions and colours – poisons, even – the debates about stuff which really matters.’

You can find Catherine’s home page here.

On the fifth day of Christmas: Girl on the Net

Earlier this month Girl on the Net was awarded the top spot in Sweet Rori’s Top 100 Sex Bloggers of 2014, and I don’t think Rori could have made a better choice.

It’s hard to put into words how I feel about Girl on the Net’s blogging – to me she feels like both one of the edgiest and one of the most ‘respectable’ faces of sex blogging. What do I mean by that? Well, she’s definitely one of the filthiest blogs I read, but so much of what she writes resonates with me and seems important that she’s the only sex blogger whose posts I regularly share with my RL friends on Facebook as well as with my Twitter followers (the filthy stuff I share with a select group, the SFW posts with all my friends).

This year, I’d say she’s written more widely and more bravely than ever (if you’ve been following these posts up till now, you’ll have noticed that bravery is something I *really* admire in people’s writing.) I’m going to be firm with myself and stick to my rule of three linked posts per blogger, but do seek out her post on anxiety for The Cocktail Hour, which was wonderful.

So, let’s start with something similar, her post What happens when you combine sex and anxiety? Obviously, this one resonated on a personal level: 2014 has been the year where I’ve discovered that the right kind of sex can lift you above the thoughts churning in your mind and bring actual, real calm, and this post captured it perfectly, helped by Stuart F Taylor’s wonderful image.

Incredibly, my second choice is a SFW one, as well, because it’s so beautifully nuanced. For reasons shortly to become apparent I’m not going to quote from my final choice in this post, so here’s an extract from In defence of monogamy:

‘While I bloody LOVE being able to write blog posts that conclude ‘OMG this is SUCH BULLSHIT’, my conclusion this time naturally has to be a bit more muted. Relationships (both monogamous and nonmonogamous) are naturally complex things. All of them involve a certain amount of negotiation, discussion and compromise. The key thing isn’t whether your relationships ‘fit’ a template that someone else has created, but whether they make you and your partners happy.’

I got a bit stuck on trying to pick a filthy post for this round up, largely because I was so completely overwhelmed by choice. I searched my handle and her’s to see what I’d retweeted with comment, because the manual RTs are normally the posts I really loved. And then I realised that the hottest post of all was dead obvious – it’s this one, on the Doxy Massager – and you don’t get an extract because it’s the sound effects that make it.

You’ll find Girl on the Net’s homepage here.

On the fourth day of Christmas: F Dot Leonora

I’d hazard a guess that I became aware of this lovely lady before she was properly aware of me. She read on the Sunday afternoon at Eroticon 2014, which was one of the few parts of the conference where I managed to hold it together. And she read beautifully, despite professing to be nervous and was just so sweet and warm that I liked her before we’d even interacted.

Since then, we’ve interacted a hell of a lot more. She’s stunningly impressive in her commitment to memes like Marie Rebelle’s Wicked Wednesday, especially because she’s taken a set of characters and developed them relentlessly through 2014, and none of the prompts seem to have remotely made her flinch.

When it comes to my top three posts though, it was her ‘Sticky Note’ fiction, based on a concept thought up by @BeingBlacksilk that I really, really struggled to choose between. I noticed Ms Solomon said on Twitter recently that she’s thinking of exploring other genres, such as horror, alongside erotica in 2015 and these sticky note posts, which really highlight her dark side, show why this is a fabulous idea. It was an endless toss up between Sticky Note #3 and Sticky Note #4, but in the end #4 won it – hopefully you’ll understand why when you read it.

Also a beautiful showcase of her longer fiction is the story she wrote for my Polished competition, Cherry Blossom. One of the things I love about the way she writes is that her language is so rich and so passionate – I know she’s a big Anais Nin fan, and I’m not the only sex blogger/erotica writer who’s commented on how much she’s been positively influenced by Nin’s style. There are no holds barred and it makes for fabulous writing. Oh, and the picture she chose for this post was fabulous, too.

Finally, is a meme that she participated in way back in February, Holding a Mirror to Myself. If you’re wondering why I’ve picked a post where she answers set questions, it’s because this is where I see the woman who’s totally confident in what she does and does it because she loves it. And boy, that’s both hot and inspiring. Anyway, here’s an extract:

Why do I write what I do?

In my experience, love is everything. No matter how people want to resist it and make it seem like it is hokey, once people fall in love it changes everything, becomes everything. So marvelous and intoxicating, like turning around and around the way children do until they get dizzy and lie on the floor to recover. Writing about people losing control in love, I love it. Gotta have that man or woman now syndrome, and the rabbit hole that it takes someone down.

If you want to follow her, you’ll find her homepage here.

On the third day of Christmas: Floraidh Clement

The idea was that by this point in my Twelve Days of Christmas posts I’d have built up a bit of a head of steam and would have written and scheduled most of these posts. But nope, I’m still flying by the seat of my pants and looking likely to miss the actual third day of Christmas with this one. Sorry, Flo.

When I started reading back over Floraidh’s archives today I was trying to remember how I first discovered her blog, and sadly, I’m still not sure. This round up was never intended to be all sex bloggers – just a reflection of the blogs I read most often, and Floraidh writes not so much about sex but more about university life, learning to love herself and a whole host of other random stuff. Which is what all the best bloggers do, in my opinion.

More than anything though, Floraidh reminds me of myself during my university years, although she’s a lot more honest about the complexity of her feelings around the whole experience, and she deserves commending for that alone. So, without further ado, my three favourite posts of Flo’s are:

1) In Defence of Selfies: It’s YOUR face – in which she sums up, very neatly, the relationship between a good photo and body/self confidence.

2) “THAT TWEET IS BLATANTLY ABOUT ME” And Other Stories of Losing My Mind On Social Media – because, well, just because it resonates, ok?!

3) Girl Crushes: Because My Eyes Aren’t Painted On – This was written around the time that I wrote about girl crushes, but Flo did a much, much better job. It’s become customary, in these posts, to give you a little extract, so here’s my favourite paragraph:

‘Yet there’s just something about women. I can appreciate the softer skin, the wider hips and more delicate wrists. They are just universally wonderful. But as time has gone on I’ve started to realise that it does go beyond the high school terminology of “fancying” them; it goes so much deeper. I think it’s just sincere wonder and admiration for beautiful human beings, whether they are this way physically or on the inside.’

And, if you want to read more of Flo’s blog, or follow her, you’ll find her homepage here.

On the first day of Christmas: Ella Dawson

So last night I alluded on Twitter to undertaking a blog project that was bigger than I originally realised. This is it. I read a fuckton of blogs, but obviously some I read more often than others and, with some work, I managed to narrow the list of my favourites to twelve. Between now and the twelfth day of Christmas, you’ll get a spotlight post a day on a particular blogger with my three favourite posts that they’ve written in 2014. The posts are in alphabetical, rather than preference, order, and if you’re not on the list, it doesn’t mean I’m not reading and/or enjoying your blog. At all. (Fuck, I hate potentially hurting people’s feelings.)

Anyway, that’s the concept. Alphabetically, the first blogger on the list is Ella Dawson, aka @brosandprose. Ella is a pretty new discovery of mine, which meant last night I had to trawl her archives to make sure my favourite posts were actually my favourite posts, but she may also be my best new blog discovery of the year. The girl writes both op-ed pieces and fiction like a dream.

So, my top three posts of Ella’s…

Let’s start with the piece she entered into (and won with) my anti-clickbait competition, Everything I learned about sex writing I learned from Taylor Swift. This one made me cry a bit, and there’s not much else I can say about it that I didn’t already say here, but fuck me, it’s good. Since she wrote it, it’s been all over the internet, including Thought Catalog, which only further serves to vouch for its excellence.

Post number two is Journal Entry: Morning Commute, which is vignette style (I do love a good vignette) and was described by someone as sounding ‘a lot like happiness.’

Finally is a much earlier post that I discovered for the very first time last night, Making smut out of politics. Here’s an extract:

I only began to write good fiction when I dared to address my own experiences and work backward. After all, my writing has always been about me. Despite what one is told, this introspection and mining of personal experience is not selfishness or arrogance. To quote Emily Gould, “If a woman writes about herself, she’s a narcissist. If a man does the same, he’s describing the human condition.” For a woman to recognize her feelings as valid is power and powerful. Writing about the harsh, gritty reality of this shiny thing that does not belong to you, that should not be yours to reveal, is a fierce activist project. That is where the “feminist” part of “feminist erotica” finally began to make sense to me.

Ella, I adore your writing and long may you continue in the same vein. Merry Christmas x