The Goddess of Love

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This week, instead of a guest post, I thought I’d share a project in which I participated some years ago. The website is now defunct, unfortunately, but it was a really cool idea. People were invited to submit stories which they related to a certain song. The website was Jams Bio, and while you read the story online the song played in the background. I was actually requested to record this story for the website, which I did. This was the first record I ever owned.

This, and other stories I wrote for Jams Bio, appear in the collection Musical Chairs-A Jamming Bio.

The Goddess of Love

I will always remember the day I found out how men and women have sex.

The funky beat of The Shocking Blue screaming about Venus and the Goddess punctuates my stepsister’s attempt to educate me about the physical act of lovemaking.

“Are you kidding? People really do that?” The Goddess on a mountain top, was burning like a silver flame…

She nods. “See, the boy gets like this. Then, he tries that.” The summit of Beauty in love, and Venus was her name…

I’m puzzled. I’m more than puzzled, actually, I’m morbidly curious and a little bit grossed out, if you want to know the truth.

“Why? Ick.”

“It feels good.” She’s got it. Yeah, baby, she’s got it.

“How do you know?” At sixteen, she’s the Goddess of All Knowledge, for me. Every word is Gospel, every pronouncement The Word as I knew it. We sit at the kitchen table in the dingy apartment on Clark Street, windows open to the hot air of summertime. Sissy draws crude figures on my notebook cover; I would study these later, like Egyptian hieroglyphics.

“I just know. Pay attention.” She taps the pencil in the notebook. The 45 spins on the turntable, and The Shocking Blue continues their hymn to the Goddess of Desire. My foot taps in rhythm. I feel the beat in my blood. Sissy’s pencil keeps time.

She drones on, pointing to this part of the picture and that part; I’m singing with the band and imagining a stage, a sparkly dress, a microphone. I’m your Venus, I’m your fire, at your desire…

The music swirls and jives, and I can’t take it anymore. Jumping up, I dance around the kitchen and Sissy laughs. I pull her up and make her dance with me. We shimmy and shake until we’re breathless with exertion and laughter.

Collapsing on the kitchen chair and gasping for air, I say, “Play it again!” and Sissy laughs.

The phone rings and Sissy curls up on the couch to discuss with her best friend how difficult it is to teach a little sister about sex. I ignore the snide remarks and snickering, replacing Venus on the turntable and study the pictures.

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Entering the Arena of Self-Publishing

I’m taking the plunge.

After months of dithering between here and there, this and that, trying to correlate the reams of publishing information bouncing around the internetz, I am going to self-publish a volume of my short works, a combination of published and unpublished stories. I have Joseph Paul Haines to thank for the kick in the pants — and fabulous support for my inane questions about the process — since he blazed the trail with the release of his own collection. I must credit MeiLin Miranda too, for sparking off the idea in my head that there could be a place for such a volume.

I’m still in the early stages, and I will blog about my experiences with self-publishing as it happens. I know I whine a lot about conquering another learning curve (doesn’t it seem as if your head will explode at some point??) but as I’ve stated before, a writer doesn’t “just” write anymore — if they ever did. Time to man up (or woman up, if you want to be politically correct) and take it head-on. Whiners belowdeck.

***

So, for me (and your mileage may vary if you decide to accept this mission) the beginning of the self-publishing process was to talk to Joe and pick his brain, since he had just completed his own mission. He made it sound quite easy, and thus encouraged, I went on to do my own due diligence. Don’t get me wrong — I know Joe would never steer me wrong and I hold him in very high respect. That being said, it’s up to ME to do my own research, and that I did.

Joe recommended CreateSpace, so I not only looked at the company’s website, I Googled reviews. I re-read some of MeiLin’s experience with them, and found that in spite of a small snafu, she was very pleased with the quality and customer service of CreateSpace, and the other reviews I read reflected that opinion.

I signed up for a free account. To be honest, I found their interface a bit confusing at first — yeah, a learning curve — but eventually I figured out how to get around. What I wanted to do was study the submission requirements and make sure I got it right the first time around. This is all before I started to put the collection together, understand — I felt like if I had the basic requirements down, that would save me time later when I was putting the masterpiece in order.

What is confusing me at the present moment is margins and terms like “bleed” (which sounds ominous), but those are little things I can ask more experienced writers. (Yes, Joe, you’re on deck. Heh.)

Now, on to the fun part. And believe me when I tell you I say that facetiously. Choosing the material. Plus, although I try to stay organized, I have pieces saved in several different folders, on flash drives, and I even went digging in GMail to find others. I’ve visited websites in which my stuff has been published, and had to re-type one that had been published in print which of course, I didn’t save anywhere else. *sigh* Lesson learned. I finally got it all in one place.

Actually, it’s not choosing the material that’s a brain fryer as much as the line-up. Most of my short work (but not all) is flash. I love flash. I’ve written a lot of flash. Tweaking my stockpile into a cohesive flow is a challenge. Plus, I became easily distracted walking through the beginnings of my writing career and remembering how, when, and why I wrote what I did. It was fun, but draining.

So, I tweaked and copy and pasted and dithered. I asked for the opinion of a trusted friend about the line-up, made a few more adjustments, and moved on to write the Author’s Obligatory Acknowledgments, a Table of Contents, and Author’s After Words. It’s starting to shape up to resemble a book! Yay!

Next stop is the book cover — I’m waiting on a specially commissioned photograph to reflect the material within, which should be here tomorrow. I will forward it to a very dear friend who has offered to Photoshop it into a cover, and in the meantime I will tweak and adjust some more.

And that, my poppets, is where I am in the process so far. Joe was right — it has been easy up to this point, but then we move on to the uploading and waiting for a proof. I will certainly keep you updated on the progress.

I hope to have “Not Nice and Other Understatements” available in the next couple of weeks, the gods willing and the creek don’t rise. Wish me luck :)

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