Author Archives: Editor Twisted Knickers Publications

Goodreads Giveaway – Knowing Joe – Enter to Win

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Knowing Joe
by Cheryl Anne Gardner
Being released February 14 2018
Giveaway Ends March 1, 2018
giveaway details »

Enter Giveaway

At this time, the Contest is for US entrants only, according to Goodreads, but if you are not in the US and would like a review copy, we would be happy to give you one:

Please visit Smashwords and use Coupon Code NP34T. ePub and Kindle review copies are available for a limited time.

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Teaser Tuesday – Knowing Joe

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Knowing Joe – Available in All Formats February 14th, 2018

He will never admit it, but Matt is a vigilante and a superhero, standing up for stray cats and feral vaginas everywhere. Or maybe it’s stray vaginas? I’m not sure. Back when we were kids, cookie fingers smudging paths along walls fraught with white, I often wanted to pop him in the mouth for the stupid stuff he’d say and the even more asinine stuff he’d do, but then he’d speak to me in this soft, convincing tone of voice — velvety smile to match — and my fists would no longer make any sense to me. Like I said, he’s a vigilante, always probing and prodding for that feminist line in the sand.

 

I like to keep him guessing, though. Mostly because I have no idea what being a feminist actually means other than that I always seem to pay for breakfast …

Language, and Lots of It Please

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I like language. I like a lot of colorful language, and I feel that authors have the right to use and manipulate the language as they see fit. I always saw fit, it is often said that I have a potty mouth, which is maybe, probably true. This fact is often apparent in my first drafts, as is noted in this conversation I had with my editor over Knowing Joe:

My Editor: Love the feel of this thing, but you might want to tone down the language. I mean, you hit them with Pussy on the first page, in the damn opening sentence. Maybe ease off a bit.

Me: It’s a sex satire.

Editor: I know that.

Me: Like maybe replace some of the fucks?

Editor: Yes, Please.

Me: For the love of Pete’s piss pot!

Editor: Yes, exactly that.

Subsequently we arrived at:

19 Fucks down from 51
32 Shits, down from 55
2 Cunts, one being Daft
8 Hell
8 Damn
2 Pussy

I would say, for me, that is considerably toned down, and while there is a lot of language in this book, there is no sex. Maybe a rather awkward scene with a neon purple vibrator, but no sex.

A Brief Reprieve from Book Talk…

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I know the “New Book is Coming!” “Review my new Book” “I’m so glad I finished writing this fucking thing; will someone please read my New Book” stuff can get tedious, so I give you a kitty. He was very tired from moon-gazing last night.

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Thoughts On Cover Art

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It took me a while to decide what kind of cover art I wanted to use for Knowing Joe. Since it’s a satire, I felt the cover had to have a satirical feel as well. Some will get it instantly, and others won’t, but I did have a few comments on the cover since it’s very minimalistic.

Why did you opt out of back cover copy?

Since the book won’t be sold in actual book stores, most people are going to read the book description on the book site they are purchasing from, so this time, I don’t know, I didn’t feel it was necessary, and, I wanted to stick with the Flash Fiction roots of the story. Just a Girl. Just a Guy. Just a Bench pretty much sums up the silliness of the story.

Why didn’t you use a nice smooth heart vector?

The front cover photo is a manipulated stock photo I purchased from Dreamstime, and yes, I could have purchased a lovely heart vector for the cover as well, but there is a scene in the story where Girl is talking about cutting out little hearts with an X-acto knife, so I wanted a simple jagged image to represent that scene and basically her thoughts on love and sex, which don’t really have smooth lines either.

Where did you get the cityscape for the interior of the book?

I actually designed and drew that myself. I tend to doodle while I am writing in order to keep myself ‘in’ the story. That cityscape is how I envisioned the story, though the bench is missing.

Expectations and Harrassment, A Girl’s Thoughts

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I want to talk about the Aziz Ansari thing because, to me, it’s not about sex. Well, it is, but it’s really about gender expectation and all the pressure that comes with that.

I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t have one sexual encounter in their life diary that they regretted, felt shitty about, and/or wished had never happened. That waking up and feeling nauseous or violated. It’s so common that it rarely gets talked about, until now, and it has everything to do with feeling pressured to do something you are not comfortable with and don’t want to do, but you do it anyway. We often write it off, and the excuses are as varied as the situations: I was drunk. I was too tired to argue. It was pity. Blah, Blah, Blah…

Why do we feel the pressure? And this applies to men and women in a variety of scenarios, not just sexual ones, though that’s the one I will be speaking to because it is the reason I wrote Knowing Joe, a story about a Girl who doesn’t want sex, has no interest in sex, and was comfortable in her own skin until an extenuating circumstance had her questioning whether or not there was something wrong with her. Queue the Pressure.

How many guys have been out to the bar with their mates and felt pressure to pick up a chick and take them home because they didn’t want their mates to call them a loser or gay?

How many women felt the need to make restitution for a dinner or a movie or simply because they didn’t want the ‘nice’ guy to dislike them, or worse, tell all their friends that “that chick was a prude … a frigid bitch.”

How many girls go wild in their early twenties as a direct revolt against their parents’ beliefs about what girls should be and how girls should behave? The same applies to boys.

The mates might not have even been teasing the guy at the bar. The Nice Guy might have truly been one and would never have badmouthed her to his friends anyway, but the expectations of how a guy and a girl should behave was in their psyche, so even if the pressure was internal, it was still very very real, insidious, and manipulative because that guy could have told his friends to fuck off, and the girl could have just ended the date when her protests went unheeded. But they didn’t. Telling yourself to fuck off is a lot harder.

Why do people want to engage in sex with people they barely know? Is it some kind of biological imperative that we simply have no control over? Or is it pressure we feel? External and Internal?

Where does this kind of pressure come from? Our Peers. Society. Our Parents. Our Religion. Our Laws. Even Our Own Damn Psyche.

It comes from all those places because it comes from expectations. Expectations that have been cultivated down through centuries. Expectations that are entirely based on outdated gender roles. And by outdated, I mean, are no longer even remotely necessary for the survival of the species. Men are expected to be virile, aggressive, strong, and intelligent. A warrior. A hunter. Women are expected to be pure, beautiful, accommodating. A wife. A mother. A housekeeper. A concubine. Men are expected to want sex and take sex. Women are expected secretly want it and to give it when it’s desired by the man. And if men and women didn’t behave according to expectations, they were sick, and thusly sent for shock therapy. Then came the sexual revolution and the feminist movement and all hell broke loose. Now we have dating apps where we ‘order off the menu’ and we expect that what’s delivered is what we wanted.

Throw in the fact that sex is everywhere and you have a clusterfuck of epic magnitude. It was bound to go nuclear eventually. Movies, books, magazines, porn, strip clubs, nudie fireman’s charity calendars. Seriously people. Pressure.

When I started writing Knowing Joe, none of this Sexual Harassment stuff was in the news, and if it was, you barely heard about it. At that time, I was writing erotica under a pseudonym, and I bought one of the most quintessential books on the subject of male sexual fantasy for research purposes. I was interested in sexual expectations. How early were they formed, and how much they were influenced by external forces. Men in Love, by Nancy Friday is a difficult book to read when you begin to understand how young we are when our sexual impulses and expectations are subject to manipulation. Every proclivity, every fetish has a line that can be traced back to its beginning, which is often what an adult would consider benign: an off-hand comment, a mother’s shoe, a dad chiding his son to man-up.

The pressure was everywhere, and to make matters worse, I had bought a used book. The entire text was furiously underlined and annotated by a women who had very specific expectations of her boyfriend, Joe.

I felt for her. I felt for Joe. Both of whom were clearly under pressure and lacked the communication skills to resolve their issues.

We need to get better at this. We need open dialog. We need to stop blaming and shaming. We need to discard definitions. We need to discard gender expectations. We need to get better at articulating, up front, what we want and don’t want. We need to stop assuming shit. We need to stop putting pressure on people to be something they don’t want to be, to do something they don’t want to do. To dress, speak, or act in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. It’s a psychological problem. It’s a definition problem. A communication problem, and it’s most assuredly a pressure problem.

Knowing Joe is about a Girl who felt that pressure all her life.

Knowing Joe is about a Girl who was brave enough to challenge what it means to be a girl.

So Kudos to all the Girls and Guys making that challenge right now. There’s a lot that needs to change.

Fun Fact About Knowing Joe

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Joe3-DKnowing Joe has been in the works since 2012, but I was running Apocrypha & Abstractions Lit Mag at the time, so it was only getting pecked at really; then, it got put on hold for a year and a half so I could focus on Rupert’s rehabilitation and some issues I was having with my own health. I was able to eke out a first draft in August 2017, and it’s taken me four months to get through the beta read and editing process.

The story didn’t sit idle during the pecking days and that year and a half hiatus, though. I was nervous about writing a comedy (not my normal death, destruction, and mayhem) so I excerpted, rewrote, and submitted those excerpts as flash fiction so that I could test the subject matter and the stylistic approach to the story.

Those excerpts were subsequently published at Salt, The Legendary, Danse macabre du jour, Change Seven, and during The Lit Bulb Festival by Pure Slush.

I have to thank those Lit Journals for giving me the confidence in my writing and in the story so that I could keep trudging on to the finish line, which is almost here.

Happy Whatever You’re Celebrating

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We are working hard to get our manuscript ready for our editor; not much time for holiday festivities or blog posts. We are looking at a Valentine’s Day or thereabouts release for the new book. Seems fitting for a not sexy sex satire.

So, here’s to the 5 people who read this blog and have put up with my cat insanity for the past two years.

 

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Copyright Cheryl Anne Gardner. That’s my asshole Elf.

Me, You, and They

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I drink the sound of you — begging
In the darkness.
Begging for what I’ve given,
And for what you’ve taken — from me.
I pray now for the silence
To overtake
Your blackened heart.

Nightmares | N G | Flickr

Nightmares. | N G | Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

You didn’t know that’s what I was writing on that piece of parchment stained with your blood. Things have been a blur lately, all emotions, anger, and don’t touch me because I’ll scream. It wasn’t the first piece of parchment I’d burned and buried under the light of the full moon, but it would be the last. The last words I would never speak to you.

“You clumsy fucking worthless piece of shit!” wasn’t the only peevish and pedantic phrase you used to scream into my face after a long night of booze and pills and dangling your cock at every skanky twat working the freeway. Your dinner was cold. You didn’t like the way I vacuumed the carpet or cooked your special meat. I might have forgotten to record your favorite program, or maybe I’d simply bought the wrong kind of beer. You liked to call your fits of rage an intervention, when you humbled me with your fist. Said it would make me a better lady, wife, and someday — mother. Said the discipline would save my soul from the voodoo spirits that had borne me out of some trailer trash womb, but it wasn’t an intervention, and it wouldn’t save me. It was simply your way of justifying the use of all the angry words you had become addicted to.

I didn’t have to listen, though.

I had this place I liked to hide whenever you got in one of your moods and decided to kick-start a marital uprising. I liked to go there when it was dark and snow-covered. I prayed there, sobbed there, and bled there. In the dirt on the floor, I would scratch things down in inches of minutia and then straightaway cross them out. I would leave pieces of myself in the corners — dissected thoughts and bits of hair and fingernails mixed with mud and saliva. I’ve piled up the worry stones over the years, on the stoop and up in the eves. I’d even written and re-written your obituary and passed the judgments I wasn’t entitled to pass, but nothing ever happened.

Nothing good, anyway.

Just dark, and cold, and quiet.

Maybe it was like they said, when the shadows came to me hollow-eyed in the misty dawn. Maybe I wasn’t soulful enough, hungry enough, willful enough … to leave the memories well enough alone, but I wouldn’t stop trying.

Praying of them.

Begging mercy of them.

I took your hair and fingernails while you slept. Scraped your semen from my bludgeoned cunt when you finally said you’d had enough of me. I’d even collected your fallen eyelashes when I pretended I loved you and kissed you softly, and your spit when, in anger, it hit my face. I’ve stood in the circle, called the watchtowers, and drew down the moon a thousand times since we took our vows. Since then I vowed to put you in your grave. I thought I might try arsenic and old lace. It grew wild and beautiful in the abandoned field behind our house. That’s when they first came to me, when I was barefoot, gathering weeds in the wood. They said they wanted the meat, but I didn’t know what they meant by that. Just the meat — no hair, no bone, no gristle — only meat. So I made offerings: rats, chickens, even your dog. Gutted it with my bare hands in the mid-day sun, but I got nothing in return, except a beating — from you.

Until now.

I went to the shed, you see. Even though you told me not to, ever. I found your “things,” wondered how many you’d tortured before me. I couldn’t remember you ever being that quiet, when I put the claw hammer in your skull. Couldn’t remember you being this heavy when you lay on top of me, or that your skin was this tough. I was clumsy, like you always said I was, hacking away at you until the sun was set and the crickets had started chirping in the field. I lit a candle with my bloodied hands and just stared at your meat in the flickering light. You looked different to me then. I could finally see a softness in your glistening sinews.

They came for you that night. After all the years and all my tears, they came, clicking and clawing their way out of the shadows to gnaw upon your rotted meat. They were hungry and waiting … for me.

I would never starve them like you did.

Previously Published (2011, August 6). The Carnage Conservatory