Category Archives: Words in Print

Stop Ticking the Sex Boxes: Everything is on a Spectrum.

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A lot of asexual people start questioning themselves because they feel like they don’t fit in. But, those feelings aren’t the only way someone realizes they’re asexual, Doré says. Some asexual people do have sex and don’t totally hate it. But, often, they don’t feel connected to sex, would be just as happy not having sex, don’t care if they have sex or not, or might just be having sex to appease a partner. Then there are people who want nothing to do with sex at all.

All of these people could consider themselves asexual.

Asexuality is a spectrum, it’s not black and white,” Doré says. Just like there are many steps between straight and gay, there’s a whole spectrum of identities between asexual and sexual. Some asexual people call themselves “gray ace ” or “demisexual, ” because they feel that they’re in an in-between space. People who identify as gray asexual might have a very low libido, or only feel sexual attraction toward someone in special circumstances, like when they’ve formed an emotional bond with someone or are in a relationship.

 

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Knowing Joe, a Contemporary Romantic Comedy and Dating Satire

It’s pride month, and our Girl is loud and proud, but that doesn’t mean there’s no struggle. Attraction is more fluid than it seems, so come take a walk with her as she explores our very public obsession with sex via the often scathing and cynical monologue of a Girl, who could be any girl, struggling to understand how her own sexuality fits in a world that seems absurdly tormented by it.  It’s a new kind of sexual revolution, and through fits and fumbles, our Girl finally discovers that love isn’t a checkbox. Love is what you make of it.

And seriously, it should be Pride month every month. No one should have to struggle with their sexuality, or suffer Society’s prejudices and expectations. Different is beautiful; Different allows for perspective; and that’s why different is possible.

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Knowing Joe: Reviews

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It’s been slow going since I gave away over 100 copies of this book in March, but I recently got a couple of nice reviews over on Goodreads. It’s a niche read for sure, a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown replete with scathing sexual satire, but there is a contemporary romance story muddled up in there somewhere, with a happy ending no less.

Wow. This isn’t just a book; it’s an experience. Experimental, avant-garde, intelligent, whatever you choose to call it … this book is smoothly written and designed to make you think. Maybe to feel and laugh a little, albeit uncomfortably. — Goodreads Review

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I’d forgotten how satisfying a happy ending can be. Maybe because happy endings so often feel contrived, devised. But not here. This one has real people walking — and feeling and thinking — all over its pages, so when the end comes, it doesn’t actually feel like one. it feels like it so often does in real life, like the beginning of something new. — Goodreads Review

Knowing Joe: Some Nice Reviews

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There were two readers so far who didn’t find the stream of consciousness, introspective monologue to their taste, but those readers who are used to this sort of satirical style had some nice things to say about our Girl and her quest for clarity. It’s the most a writer can hope for, especially an independent writer. My thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to read the book and leave their thoughts.

“Touching, funny, grittily true, and sweet. A refreshing and unique exploration of romantic love.” – Kristen Tsetsi, Author of The Age of the Child and The Year of Dan Palace.

“A psychological observation of modern day romance in a bare, raw sense. Thank goodness for Cheryl Anne Gardner, giving us real romance to read as an alternative to Harlequin hell.” Amazon Review, Breeni Books

“This novella is beautifully ambiguous, in a way that gives it a universal appeal. Through Girl’s inner monologue, Gardner explores societal norms, issues, and expectations surrounding relationships. It explores the complicated nature of women, of sex, relationships, and of friendship. In a way, it is a mirror aimed at ourselves – one that shows that we do not have to lose a part of who we are just because it is expected.” Amazon Review, Henry Martin, Author of The Mad Days of Me

“One of the most irreverently introspective narrators I’ve come across in quite a while. […] a young woman with her own specific angst plus an unflagging imagination and delivery. Amazon Review, Susan Tepper, Author of Monte Carlo Days and Nights

Knowing Joe: A Sexual Identity Crisis

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Sure, Knowing Joe is a satire. It pokes fun at society and all its sexual stigmas and stereotypes. Sex is absurd when you get right down to it, but at the heart of Knowing Joe is an Identity Crisis, which is far from absurd.

Our Girl isn’t a young girl. She isn’t trying to find herself. At 27, she knows who she is, and she knows who she wants to be, until she is confronted with something that makes her second guess her resolve on the issue of her own sexual identity.

Everyone second guesses themselves from time to time. It’s healthy to question your principles and beliefs every now and again. It’s healthy to question “normal.” It’s part of the growth process to ask, “Can I do something?” “Should I be doing something else?” When we question, we open our minds up to other possibilities. That might include the possibility to change or not to change.

I recently read an article on “The Midlife Crisis,” and an author quoted in the article had an interesting take on the subject matter: one that applies here to the Identity Crisis Girl experiences in Knowing Joe. The Author states:

41MS5O8NxVL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_The midlife crisis is created from addiction. Without addiction, it cannot exist.

Dr. Joe Dispenza, a neuroscientist and author of several books, including Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself and You Are The Placebo, gives convincing evidence of the three addictions we all develop early in life long before we’re introduced to any harmful substances.

• Addiction to our bodies
• Addiction to our environment
• Addiction to the concept of time

In Knowing Joe, Girl has understood her identity as an a-sexual since she was a very young girl. She begins to question it at 27 years old when she stumbles upon a book she considers to be full of secrets. The idea that she might not have had all the knowledge she needed to fully analyze the issue at hand (sex) sends her into a full-blown panic attack, in which she fixates on an invented love interest in order to ground herself.

So how could such a confident, enlightened person lose their sense of self? Well, I think it goes straight back to the addictions listed above:

  1. Addiction to our bodies: The idea that our bodies are the foundation of our identity and the vehicle for the satisfaction we seek in life.
  2. Addiction to our environment: That being Society’s definition of normal and all the expectations that come with it.
  3. Addiction to the concept of time: The fallacy that old age strips us of our sexual identity and therefore diminishes the love we can feel, for ourselves and for others.

Of course, these concepts are all horse shit: Our bodies are not who we are. Satisfaction comes from doing not being. Society doesn’t have a backwards-assed clue about normal, and old age only increases the love we can give and receive because we have a better understanding of what love actually is after decades of struggling with it. Sex isn’t love. Inherently we know all this, but the need to feel “normal” is a powerful addiction that can send even the most enlightened person into a pit of despair. That’s where our Girl finds herself in Knowing Joe, so when I was trying to figure out how to approach telling the story, I felt that it was best to use a first person, stream of consciousness point of view so that her confusion, her struggle to validate her convictions, would be palpable on the page. She’s manic, rambling. Her thoughts are disjointed, and yet, there is a logical process as she plots her way through from point A to point B.

Anyone who has had an emotional crisis of any sort will understand that feeling: the wave of adrenalin that washes over you, the nausea, the sinking despair that feels like it’s pulling your stomach through your intestines. The racing heart and the racing mind as we fight to course correct. As we fight for the confidence to be able to say, “I Know Who I Am.”

When we attach our identities to temporary things, our identities, too, are temporary — and we find ourselves in a constant chase to reinvent ourselves.

In Knowing Joe, it takes an intervention to help Girl confront the addictions that sent her spiraling into an inner world of what-if fantasies. It takes true love and acceptance to help her understand that attraction is more fluid than it seems; that normal is subjective; that she is part of a new kind of sexual revolution, and that it’s ok to not want sex, in the moment or ever. Love and sex are not mutually exclusive, and through fits and fumbles, our Girl finally discovers that love is what you make of it.

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Teaser Tuesday: Knowing Joe

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41A2dm0BImL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_“Cadavers,” she said to the leather-clad mountain next to her in a gruff old-lady smoker rasp. The other turned to reply with a, “Totally predictable. Emaciated. Tweeks and Twinkies,” and I was stuck between them and their snarky banter, a hairy, peck-stuffed, and bedazzled brassiere pressing into my face hard enough for me to smell the Old Spice in her tit-hair. I thought I was going to lose consciousness, but at the onset of total cologne asphyxiation, one of them spoke to me, “So what do you think, hon? Is there anything even remotely fuckable in this joint tonight?” as if I would know, being an actual expert and all that.

Gardner, Cheryl Anne. Knowing Joe (p. 40). Twisted Knickers Publications. Kindle Edition.

Teaser Tuesday

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41A2dm0BImL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Most days I just slouch down in my cubicle trying to blend in with the mazy sea of grey walls, grey carpeting, and framed inspirational art. Making yourself invisible is skillage a level above meth making and light wizardry.

Gardner, Cheryl Anne. Knowing Joe (p. 42). Twisted Knickers Publications. Kindle Edition.

Labels: I Hate Them

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The first real review for Knowing Joe has arrived on Amazon, and this comment in the review made me smile because I love it when readers get it.

Personally, I loved how Girl was so inexperienced, yet so confident in her convictions. She makes completely valid arguments for her lifestyle choice. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. I applaud her for staying true to herself and not bowing to society’s expectations. — Amazon Review

Society’s expectations and its obsessively distorted view of sex are the reasons I wrote this book to begin with. Our protagonist, Girl, is asexual. Asexuality is difficult for people to understand. It’s not the same thing as celibacy, which is an actual choice, so I don’t say as much about it in the book because I hate slapping labels on shit, though one of the characters does mention the label hate specifically.

41A2dm0BImL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Girl is a heteromantic asexual. The ACE community is underrepresented even within the Queer community as a whole. As a lifelong advocate, I wanted to put that forward, put a voice out there as far as my own personal reach could extend. Considering how sex muddies the waters when it comes to every aspect of our lives lately, I wanted a confident voice with valid arguments. Not anti-sex, but a voice who clearly understands the complexity of the subject matter. A voice who continues to struggle against societal pressure even though she is confident in her choice, even though it’s not really a choice for her per se.

I thought it would be wonderful to shine a light on a relationship where sex didn’t matter. Where the relationship wasn’t just a mad rush to grind da sweaty-bits. Where unconditional love and respect are romantic. Where the friendship is the sexy part. Where the attraction comes from a deep understanding of the other person at an intellectual level.

Sexual orientation is very fluid, and we understand more about that now than we did, say, in the 50s. I wanted a modern love story that reflected the complexity of the romantic heart, and I thought it would be wonderful to tell young men and young women that it’s ok to feel this way. That it’s ok for them to not want sex, whether it be in the moment or forever. That Normal is subjective. That there’s nothing wrong with them at all, and that love and sex are not mutually exclusive.

That was the ‘what if’ that came to mind when I first met Underline Girl and Margin Joe on the pages of Nancy Friday’s book. What would their relationship look like if the sexual angst was removed entirely? What if?

An Aside with a Side of Ass

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Knowing Joe41A2dm0BImL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ is Literary Fiction, Humor, Satire. Sometimes scathing satire.

Knowing Joe is not Romance Genre Fiction.

Knowing Joe is not Erotica, despite the man-titty cover joke.

Shit. Nobody knows Joe, and neither do I, but if you are looking for sexy, toe-curling romance, this ain’t it. Awkward? Maybe, probably, but not sexy. At. All.

Now, if you are looking for a Satirical Monologue on sex and dating, then you’ve come to the right place.