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winterhowl_800 - smallLast Sunday, I truly had a blast at a local bar with a bunch of my writer friends. I had originally planned to go to a local Italian restaurant that makes good martinis, but they closed maybe a week or two before I planned for the party! The important part was making sure it was an adult venue, given the subject matter I intended to talk about and read from, but the problem was finding one that was quiet. Most bars tend to be loud, especially on a Saturday night.

Well, this local bar has a beautiful interior, very European classy, and it’s just a bar rather than a bar and grill. I asked the management what would be a good day to do a quiet party, and Sunday was one of the days. Our group sometimes meets there for writing Sunday afternoons, and this would be a natural extension of that. So I moved the party to Sunday and told everyone that we could bring food in. I bought gourmet cupcakes (because what party doesn’t call for gourmet cupcakes?) and gifts/prizes and got all ready.

The purpose of this party was not only to celebrate my debut novel (subsequent erotic novel release parties will probably be a lot lower key), but to practice the art of being an author in the public eye. Now, due to the nature of writing under a pseudonym, I probably won’t have occasion to do that much, but I write mainstream as well, and maybe it’ll help prepare me for that. But as I initially said, I believe that life can be short and bleak, and it isn’t such a bad thing to celebrate what you can.

Cue afternoon before the party, I receive a rejection notice from Total-E-Bound for Wolf Girl. This wasn’t unexpected – and the rejection was one of those awesome rejections where they tell you that you’ve done everything right, but the story just doesn’t fit with them – however, it still took a lot of wind out of my sails. I’m still stressing now over how the hell I’m going to self-publish this sucker without a nickel to spend on it at the moment, but I keep telling myself I have time to figure it out. It doesn’t have to be published now, no matter how set I was on having it release this summer.

So I was a little down, but I went across the street to buy some tempura for the party, then return and order a pineapple upside-down cake cocktail in hopes that it will loosen my tongue for the reading. In the past, I’ve read excerpts that are maybe PG13, but I committed to reading something more sensual this time, given the nature of the party.

One of my friends brought roses, which I love and gave me a warm feeling inside. It was such a pleasure to be able to celebrate with friends, which I wouldn’t have been able to do about a year and a half ago. We all sit down to appetizers that some of the others brought and chocolate-covered popcorn and do an informal question-and-answer, which is fun to do with other writers. Two people came by who were new to our group, and they had some beginning writer questions that make me excited. The beginning is the scariest part, but it’s also like the beginning of a journey, and you always remember your start and how cool it was when words met paper for the first time. Even if it was crap.

Then I did my reading from the naked-in-the-snow scene, and I underestimated how uncomfortable I would feel reading sex out loud, especially in front of men. It’s one thing to share sex fantasies with other women, but there were three men there, and that just felt too exposed. I blushed so red during it, but a you-got-mail sound from the manager’s computer eased the tension a little, and I soldiered through. I wasn’t nearly tipsy enough for it though. I obvious hadn’t had enough alcohol to reach “loosen my tongue” phase. I was trying for the sweet uninhibited spot between slightly buzzed and drunk, since I hate getting drunk. But alas, it was not to be. Even so, I managed to get through it all right.

I haven’t quite figured out how to do a good reading of erotica without feeling embarrassed. I can write about sex fine, but I rarely talk about it, and when I do, it’s usually very straightforward and almost clinical. I don’t know how to tap into my inner sex kitten or if I even have one, and how do you do a man’s growl without laughing at yourself? I just don’t know how it’s supposed to be done.

And so the night ended. I thanked everyone and gave out the gifts and hugged everyone I could, then went home and crashed. Fortunately, as a lifelong introvert, I’ve gotten to the point where I know the crash is going to happen, so I can prepare for it.

I don’t have pictures because I don’t really do that. I know. My generation is all about constant record-keeping, but I never felt the draw to document my life in photos, especially of me. Like most people, I can’t stand pictures of myself. It’s less a low self-esteem thing and more like the way people can’t stand to hear themselves in a recording. It just doesn’t fit what you expect. I don’t see in pictures what I see in a mirror, so it’s just jarring. Maybe I could have taken pictures of the cupcakes, but the light level was low. Next time, I guess. :)

However, my memory is clear enough, and you already remember your first. Here’s to my first release party, and here’s to Winter Howl.