Summer is Coming!

Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, it stays light out until 9 o’clock… yes, summer is almost here! And as usual, I’ll be doing some big giveaways to celebrate my vacation. (Hope you get a summertime break, too!)

Also, for the first time, I’ve decided to release three short stories at the same time. Another first for me is making them available for pre-order. I know, so many firsts, it’s crazy! All three stories will be released on June 30th. But you know you want to be the first to read them, right? So pre-order right now!

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The first story I want to highlight is an intensely personal one. I’ve mentioned this only briefly, but I lived in Senegal, West Africa for two years in the mid-2000’s. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer stationed in a very small village with all the usual amenities: a mud hut, a grass roof, a well, and a dirt road. And peanuts. Lots of peanuts. It was an incredible (and incredibly challenging) experience. This story is loosely based, not on actual Peace Corps service, but on something I observed during a short – but very informative – trip to the beach.

Senegal has a long Atlantic coastline – no surprise the national dish is fish stew over rice! It has charming coastal villages, brightly painted pirogues, and broad, white-sand beaches. Basically a tourist’s dream… especially if said tourists are also interested in sex. I am hardly an expert, but I saw with my own eyes that it’s the thing to do: both women and men engaging in casual vacation sex with gorgeous beachside companions.

As a young observer, I was disturbed by this. Especially given my background knowledge of poverty in Senegal, and the many dreams of foreign wealth I heard about daily.  Of course I understood and sympathized with the young Senegalese – they were taking advantage of a rare opportunity to make some money. What I did not understand was the many European tourists who came down, not just for the sun, but for the sex. It disturbed me for the simple reason that those White tourists, by the simple fact that their currency is worth more, had huge economic power. Yet they carelessly reinforced a backward kind of modern colonialism. Taking what they wanted from an ‘exotic’ country, and not bothering to truly understand it. Money flying everywhere, all to create the version of Senegal that suited them – a version that includes beautiful, available, anonymous, and cheap (currency exchange, again!) sexual partners.

I’m all for sex work. Legalize everything! But only if sex workers are truly treated fairly, as equals providing a service to other equals. Sex tourism – at least as I observed it – is based fundamentally on the economic superiority of one person, and relative vulnerability of the other. Sad stuff, guys.

And not sexy. Yet, I wanted to explore it, shed some light on it. And also, you know, write a good story. What I accomplished, I think, is some of my best work yet. It sheds some light on this small sliver of Senegal, while also (I hope!) crafting what turned out to be a heartfelt, and sexy, love story.

I hope you enjoy! And remember to pre-order, y’all!

senegal beach cover

Sources for further reading about sex tourism in Senegal:

https://www.pri.org/stories/2010-04-29/senegal-draws-tourists-sun-sea-and-sex

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maya-lau/senegalese-sex-tourism_b_952640.html

http://www.nswp.org/timeline/event/sex-work-legalised-senegal

 

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Chocolate is a Girl’s Best Friend

I know lately I’ve been offering free books like they’re going out of style, but I couldn’t resist getting my new release out there into the world with a great big giveaway! The Chocolatier, free on Amazon today through 3/2/17. This one is a super shorty, 4,000-ish words of sweet, succulent, drippy, melty chocolate. And sex, of course.

I’m fortunate to be married to a Frenchman, so we go to Paris a lot. It truly is a city like no other. One of my favorite things is going into little shops so specialized, only artisans could staff them. The Fromagier – cheese shop, stocked wth hundreds of varieties, each more pungent than te last; the Boulanger/Patissier, where your mouth will water at the sight of delectable sweets and crusty, hearty breads; the Bucher, with all kinds of fresh meats, cured sausages, and all sorts of fatty things; and the Chocolatier, a specialist of my most favorite culinary indulgence: chocolates, truffles, and candies.

Who wouldn’t want to visit the back room of a chocolate shop? Especially if the artist in question is a maestro of cocoa, cream, and erotic touches…

Please grab your free copy today! It’ll only be $0 until March 2nd, at which point you’ll have to pay up if you want a literary trip to Paris. Enjoy!chocolatier-cover-final

My Secret Favorite…

I know authors aren’t supposed to have favorite stories. Each new book should be better than the last, and therefore should surpass earlier works, in both quality and the writer’s fondness.

However, I’ve always had trouble living by the rules, and I’m breaking one today by saying that, of all the Ancients stories, The Girl With The Golden Eye (free on Amazon Jan.29-Feb.1) remains my favorite. Why, I cannot say exactly. Something about Khorshid’s character, her loneliness, her resilience, the inner hidden workings of her heart, draw me in. Of all of them, she resonates most in my soul — as does Ardeshir, the man who, finally, comes to find her.

Perhaps it has to do with where I was in life when I began writing it. I read the article about an ancient woman with a golden eye way back in college. I was probably 19 or so. The story bloomed in my mind — still as a budding writer, of course, not yet confident enough to put my work out into the world — and I just sat down, and wrote it. Naturally, it was crap. Which is why, ten years later, I took the time to revise it and bring it into its own. The time and care that demanded made me intimate with the setting and characters. They came from within me, perhaps more than the others. When I read it again, I am reminded of all I’ve done so far in my life, and the many possibilities that remain.

So please enjoy the last of the free “Ancients” stories: The Girl With The Golden Eye.

Read all about my inspiration here: A mystery from the grave