Archive | May 2011

Girls Running the World and Other Bullshit Phenomenon

When Beyoncee Knowles debuted her latest single a while back, my husband heard it before I did. It was a catchy tune that he, knowing how much of a die hard Beyonce fan I am, just knew I would like. He called me one morning while he was driving to work and let me hear it blaring in the background.

Admittedly, it was a catchy little diddy: “Who run the world? Girls! Who run the world? Girls!”

A few weeks later, Beyonce herself prefaced her performance of the song with “Men have been running this world forever, and it’s time for a change.”

And I was up off the bed, ready to dance and shake like the diva herself.

And then I stopped and I thought about it, really thought about it.

Who run this motha…

Girls? Yes, actually. Me, actually. And I have been “running it” my entire adult life.

First, as a single woman. I worked three jobs at one point just to stay afloat and because I was too proud to ask my mother or anyone else for help.

Then, as a young woman in my first marriage when I was certain that I would no longer have to do certain things like pump gas, wash/clean my car or mow the lawn.

What ended up happening was, my car never stayed cleaned, I either pumped my own gas or risked being stranded on the side of the road, and strangers stopped on the highway to help me change my tire because I never bothered to learn to do it myself.

Because clearly, I didn’t marry that type of man.

That marriage went kaput for various reasons and I was single again and a mom. Not only was I “running it” for myself, I had two little people I was responsible for.

Eventually, I met and married their stepdad and I find this marriage to be drastically different with tinges of similarities.

I still pump my own gas, but he washes and cleans the cars. He brings in the bulk of the money, but I make sure the bills are paid. I shop for the groceries, cook the food and clean the house. I do the laundry, but he does most of the ironing. I feed and wash the dog, but he scrubs the turtle’s shell because I’m too afraid to touch it.

I’ve always thought I wanted a Prince, someone who took care of everything. If he brought home the bacon, then I’d happily fry it. However, I’m realizing now that relinquishing that control would mean driving myself crazy with the what if’s.

What if he forgets to mail the mortgage or pay the car insurance? What if he skips laundry day and we don’t have any clean uniforms for work?

So, while “running it” can be daunting, in my life, it’s pretty necessary. Type A personality that I am, in order for me to feel confident that something’s been done, I pretty much have to do it myself.

And that’s me, running the world and such… my world, that is.

The Secret Life of an Erotica Writer

I was talking with a kindred spirit the other night, and the conversation rolled around to people’s perceptions. She spoke of judgments she received because of her accomplishments, her age and her appearance, and I relayed to her the reactions I received from people when they found out I write erotica.

People are usually impressed to find that I write, but it’s not generally the kind of “impressed” you would think.

Sometimes it’s like, “Oh ok, you write” and they immediately toss you into the pile of every other wanna-be writer they know. Or, they make assumptions, like, “Oh, you write poems?” Or, they think you’re just really geeked about your new hobby. My all time favorite is: “Do you want to go somewhere with it one day… try to get published?”

I almost laughed in a woman’s face when she said that to me. Instead, I smirked, giggled and said, “Just Google me.”

An hour or so later, her mouth was agape and – “That’s you?”

Yes, that’s me. And because that’s me, I never lead with that tidbit of information.

I find that the misconceptions people have about erotica writers are many. A main one I’ve encountered is that people think I’m this super freak. That I’ve tried everything. That I’m willing to try anything. That I’m easy. That I’m promiscuous or sneaky.

And it’s sad to say that I’ve actually lost “friends” over it. One was someone I had known since high school. He Googled me, saw some of my lesbian erotica, asked if I was gay and never spoke to me again. Good riddance, but still. Judgmental much?

Some people I’ve had to willingly eliminate from my life because they had certain expectations of me that I simply was unable and unwilling to live up to. No, I won’t join you and your girlfriend or your best friend in a threesome. No, I don’t really want to blow you on the ride home, especially, if yesterday I was your smart, witty, compassionate and loyal friend Tenille, and today I’m Tenille, the sexual side show freak. No, I don’t have whips and chains in my bedroom (in the walk-in closet maybe)

The truth is, after all these years, I’m still kind of taken aback by it all myself, and I still get just a little embarassed when someone announces to a friend, “She writes erotica!”

And a lot of times, people who know me in real life tend to find out by accident. I had a friend pick up a book off my kitchen table wanting to borrow it. He looked at the back cover, looked at me, looked back at it, and well, you know the rest.

It can be draining trying to contradict everything that everyone could perceive of me from what I do. It’s like trying to convince someone that something is blue, when all they can see is red. So, I prefer to let people know exactly who I am first.

My name is Tenille. I’m married with two kids, one stepson, one turtle and one dog. I work in law enforcement. I enjoy writing, I’m damn good at it, and if I had my way, it’s what I’d be doing full-time. I was first published as a teenager, then I pretty much fell into writing erotica, and I never got up because I found it quite comfy down there. It was/is my niche.

My mother reads my writing. My boss and my husband are my biggest fans, but to them, I’m still Tenille. Their view of me didn’t change when they opened a book, saw my name and read what followed.

I’m not opening my chamber of secrets when I write. I am not writing a serial autobiography. I have no hidden agendas (well, mostly, I don’t). And the screaming irony is… I write under my real name. Go figure.

But, do I write what I know? I try, because my aim, first and foremost, is to be authentic. Do I write fantasy? Almost always. Of over thirty five published pieces of mine, only four are autobiographical (and I will never tell which ones they are ;).

I don’t have this incredible sex life. I do okay, don’t get me wrong, and I’m no prude, but as sex goes, I’m actually pretty tame in the bedroom. And with two small children in the house, I tend to be pretty fucking lazy in the sack these days. Just ask my husband.

Last night, we fell asleep at the foot of the bed after watching the Season Finale of House. I was in my bra and panties, too tired to strip any further, and for me, that’s about as freaky as I’m gonna get.


Not really. More accurately, my mind is too busy for a proper blog post. So… I went through my files and found a story I started a couple months ago for a call for submissions that I never completed. I might finish it… might not, but here it is:

She was waiting, quite simply, to be swept away.
And there in the kitchen, clutching a framed picture to her chest, she found herself wondering exactly what it was she had said to Sue when she left for work that morning.
Was it “I love you?”
Or was it “Don’t forget the milk?”
She couldn’t remember.
She had always wanted to tell Sue how much she loved her eyes and the way her hair curled even after she brushed and brushed.
Or that yes, she’d like to look into that baby thing.
She wished she’d held Sue for five minutes longer this morning, instead of rushing to get to the shower first.
She should have fed her the jambalya last night, instead of letting Sue eat alone in the kitchen and saving hers for later. She should have laid in the bed with Sue and kissed the spices from his lips…
Hadn’t they, in the beginning, promised to never regret a thing?
Yet, now there were plenty.
Because you never think you’ll see the day when it’s too late.
She was seeing it now, the water rising outside her window.
Sue long gone, she was sure.
When they made love the last time, it actually was the last time.
She wished she hadn’t resisted the move, that she hadn’t wasted the time hating the place instead of learning and loving it with Sue.
She wished, she wished, she wished…

You’ve got ten minutes.

For the next few minutes, I will be sentimental. You will read (or not read) and afterwards, it will be over. And… we won’t speak of it again.

In case you didn’t know, in addition to everything you already know about me, you should know that sometimes I can be a mean bitch. And that man I’m married to who I love to pieces? Well, he can be a moody bastard.

But sometimes, together, we’re pretty sweet.

Like at around one thirty in the morning after he’s driven the forty-five minutes home from work, and I get up to fix him an egg sandwich or something and watch a little t.v. with him even though I’m half-asleep. Then he’s ready to call it a night and we crawl under the covers. There is almost always no sex at this hour after he’s worked and commuted home, but he tells me, “You’ve got ten minutes,” and I know to scoot close to him and tuck into that crook in his arm and throw my arm around his waist and squeeze. I know to lay there with him chest to chest, forehead to forehead, lips to lips, fingers intertwined for those ten minutes when this sweet little position has gotten uncomfortable for us both and I roll to my side of the bed and he rolls to his and we sleep the rest of the night soundly with the appropriate amount of space between us.

Now and then, when he thinks I’m fast asleep, I catch him kissing me on the forehead and whispering “I love you.” Now and then, I reach for his hand and squeeze and whisper the same.

We wouldn’t dare do this in the light of day. We’d never be able to recall it in the heat of an argument, but for ten minutes, now and then in the dark of night, it’s what we do.

We don’t discuss it in the morning.

Giving Up and Letting Go

Over the last 48 hours or so, I made a snap decision. Surprise, surprise, right?

I’ve decided to: a. Stop drinking, b. stop smoking and c. lay off the caffeine.

I also made another pretty big decision, but I’ll speak on that at another time because as it’s only a hope/wish right now and may never even come to fruition it may never even be relevant, so…

But, of the afore mentioned three, I figured that the second would be the most difficult. I don’t know if I’ve ever said this aloud or even acknowledged it as a truth, but I have at least one drink per day, be it a beer, glass of wine, or a cocktail. Most times, it’s more than one.

Have I ever seen it as problem? No, because I simply believe that you must hit rock bottom, and I’ve just never gotten there. So, I’m quitting while I’m… ahead? If nothing else, I’m simply testing a theory.

I’d really like to know what’s left when I start stripping things away, when I don’t have those vices to fall back on. A filtered cigar was my friend when I needed that nudge to get through the work day. A cup of coffee was my motivation to get up and moving. Alcohol was my reward at the end of the night when I had made it through another day.

And I began to ask myself… where was I in all of this? Where was/is the real me? Can I be happy just all on my own, achieve that proverbial natural high? Am I really a woman of substance or do I hide behind my big cup of coffee and my berry flavored cigar and my glass of Chardonnay?

Yesterday was day one and I eased right on through it. It was strange watching one of my favorite reality shows though without a glass in my hand, but I didn’t dwell on it much. And I fell asleep okay, and slept pretty well.

Today, I am sipping a cup of coffee – I think mostly for the heat because I’m cold-natured , so even de-caf coffee would suit me – but the other stuff… I think I’m good for now.

I’m trying not to look at it as something that’s been pried out of my hands. I want these things to be something that simply floats away when I let it go. No wrenching pain, no regret, just relief.

Then let’s see what I’m really made of.

The Gift of Giving

I tend to not make a big whoop about holidays for a few reasons.

One being that, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more appreciative of the little things. And let me preface all this by saying that I have nothing against gift giving or receiving. I, myself, am much more of a giver than receiver anyway, but when it comes to what do you want for this and that… I always find myself stumped.

As in yesterday: Mother’s Day.

In this blog, I talk about a lot of different and pretty random things: writing, not writing, love, marriage, relationships and communication. I may sprinkle in a few tidbits about my children, but I started this blog three years after they were born, so I never told the full story of how they came to be.

It’s not your typical birds and bees story, but I won’t bore you with the full length version right now except to say that in my first marriage, infertility was an issue on both our parts. So, the pregnancy was completely planned and completely wanted, even hoped for and prayed for. The pregnancy was difficult. I seemed to have every problem you could have during a pregnancy. I was on bed rest the majority of the time and I experience pre-term labor. The twins were born a month early, but luckily were at a healthy enough weight with fully developed lungs and didn’t have to spend any time in NICU (except for my daughter who spent 24 hrs).

In case you haven’t yet figured out where I’m going with this, I’ve learned to count my blessings. I feel that I’ve been given enough gifts to last a life time. I realized a dream I never thought possible (the babies, not the writing) and it feels selfish to me to ask for anything more. This is only MY opinion, though.

And raising my children hasn’t been a picnic. I divorced their father, spent some time as a single mother and eventually remarried. The children were both diagnosed with various developmental disorders which made schooling a major issue. Slowly, but surely, we’re crossing those hurdles. So, you see, every day, in some way, I feel I’m given a gift. I’m able to raise my children. They’ve overcome so many obstacles. Every day I see people who are so much worse off than we are. We live pretty comfortably. I rarely have to tell my children no. In fact, I’m quite guilty of spoiling them.

So, when people ask what I might want for Christmas, Mother’s Day or my Birthday, I’m honestly not putting on a show by saying I want nothing. I feel like I have absolutely everything and I wouldn’t dare ask for more.

My husband, though, is a big gift giver. He’s really into “things.” Like now, he’s wanting me to order a new Coach bag when he’s already bought me two so far this year alone. I tell him that I’d rather start remodeling the kitchen and if he simply must get me something, I’d like a set of pots (preferably Paula Deen). He looks at me like I’m crazy, but it’s honestly how I feel. I don’t like being greedy and/or wasteful.

My own mother, on the other hand, is also into gifts. She always has to get me something and she feels that if I don’t give her an actual gift, then I’ve forgotten about her or I don’t love her. Yesterday, I took her dinner, a bottle of wine and a card. I know she would have preferred earrings or something, but the gift was genuine. She gave me a nightgown which is one of my favorite things to receive. Practical and it has Betty Boop all over, so it’s also something I like which shows how much she knows me.

That’s me when it comes to gifting, in case you ever need to know. Keep your jewelry; give me a gas card or my favorite lotion or a new hair dryer (because I just broke mine), but don’t waste dollars trying to impress me or show me how much you care. I don’t measure anyone’s affection by how much they spend on me…

…which is a good thing for my husband who didn’t give me a damned thing yesterday but a hug. 😉

The Character of a Name

No one knows this, but I take as much care in naming my characters as I do in naming my children. It may seem over the top, especially since most of my writing is short fiction, averaging around 2500 words, but it’s what I do.

I’ve always been this way. I was never a fly-by-night, snatch a name out of the sky and drop it in kind of writer. And I never repeat a name, even after umpteen stories written and published. Even if it’s a common name, like Jane or John, I use it once, then I archive it, so to speak. That’s that character’s name for all eternity.

And I say all that to say this: During the process of bringing my 2003 novel into 2011-12, I have to change some things, names of characters being one of them. I’ve changed Rational’s name to Greta, Chance’s name to Solemn, Noble’s name to Grip and I think, I think I’ll leave everyone else be.

I don’t want to be so obviously literal with the names, you see, because those names had sickeningly obvious meanings. While I still want the names of my characters to be unique and meaningful, I also want my story to remain believable and realistic, like my short fiction. I created a fictional town and named that as well, which I’m also leaving as is, but I’m basing it on an actually place and it’s in an actual state.

I often wonder what other writers’ processes are in choosing names for characters. Do they use the big book of baby names? Do they name them after friends, after ancestors?

Me, I’m a listener, and I drift toward people who are natural story tellers. I have one friend who is older who tells the most intriguing and amazing stories about her families. I recently wrote and submitted a story using her uncle’s nickname, Stretch.

Of course, in thinking about and conversing about the transformation of this novel, there are many changes I want to make, some of them quite daunting. But those are other posts to be saved for other days.

Let this amazing journey begin.

I’m getting over it.

And I’m publishing my novel, the novel I wrote, revised and had accepted for publication all while I was pregnant with my twins. I’m getting over the hurt, disappointment and insecurity I felt when things didn’t go as planned and I was left with an unpublished stack of pages and words.

I was too intimidated to move forward, to solicit agents or other publishing houses. And to self-publish would have been giving up, admitting that no one “out there” would publish me, and I’d have to sell my books out of the trunk out of my car (where I’d also be living if I resorted to such means). This novel just wasn’t the one, I had convinced myself. That the company went kerplunk was surely a sign that this wasn’t the novel I shouldn’t be putting out to the world, to represent me. I held on to that bull shit for eight years.

It’s time I get over it now.

I transferred the novel from a disc to my laptop then to my thumb drive. I’ve printed off the first five chapters because hubby agreed months ago to read it and give me his opinion. I will solicit others to do the same, of course, because I know that my husband is simply unable to be impartial and, well, he’s no literary critic or anything.

After a massive revamping which will involve the changing of at least two of the characters names (I went on to name my son after the male character – jeeeezus! and the main female character’s name was just plain silly and obviously ironic, so there’s that), I am going to secure an agent. That’s right, I’m going to get one, not look for one, not hope for one. I’m going to do it.

Then, I’m publishing my fucking novel. I am going to be the writer I should be, that I deserve to be, that I know I can be.

Because… enough is enough.

Talk the talk or walk the walk.

I can’t think of too many things that frustrate me more than poor communication. I don’t think it mattered to me as much when I was younger and in my first marriage. I was much more of a “fuck it” type person, even more so than I am now. No communication? No problem!

I used to be content with just leaving it be, letting it rest until things died down, but somehow now, I can’t let it rest. If I don’t get some type of resolution, I feel turmoil inside of me. I get so frustrated that sometimes I even cry (and I hate crying).

The problem is, I’m in a relationship with someone who likes to dodge conflict at all costs. He thinks that problem + discussion = argument, while I see it as problem + discussion = solution.

He tends to misinterpret and often twists my words until even I don’t recognize this person he’s talking about.

Contrary to his belief, I don’t enjoy arguments. I don’t like to waste time being angry and/or yelling and screaming. The irony is, though, that I end up doing it anyway when I’m left with the silent treatment and having to just “deal” until he decides to come around which could last anywhere from an hour to twenty-four. It’s very childish behavior and sometimes I treat it that way. Pediatricians tell you in the beginning to just ignore the bad behaviors and when the child notices you not responding to it, it will stop.

And of course, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

I complain about our poor communication constantly. He promises to do better… constantly.

But, nothing ever changes.

Yesterday I said, throughout a series of angry tweets, that I’d get a story out of a recent situation which involved our mis/non-communication. I wish I didn’t have to resolve real life conflict in my fiction world, but it’s been my savior over the years. And when/if those stories get published and he opens the book and reads them, recognizes something and looks at me and smiles that sideways smile, I just give him that look that says, “You left me no choice.”

Take my story, Trimming, that was recently accepted for publication. It’s about a woman who was left to mow her own yard because her lover up and got mad about something and refused to do it. Lo and behold, the neighborhood landscaper comes around and offers to do it for her and yada, yada and you get where I’m going with this…

Now, I’m in no way trying to warn him that if he doesn’t get his act together someone else would gladly fill his shoes… I just like to explore option in my stories, take my situation and ask the question – what if??? I did the same in the story, Reasoning, which made it into Best Bondage Erotica 2012, and also Strings, which was published in Alison Tyler’s A is for Amour. The latter was based on another relationship though… another story for another time.

I mean, I’m a much more patient person now, thanks to raising two children who can be quite difficult little people due to their circumstances. So, I ignore some behaviors, others I work out in other ways, if not between the two of us, than at least, for me. But, I know it won’t always be this easy. Problems won’t always dissolve with a few keystrokes, and what then?

It’s what I try to get him to see, that problems left unsolved could manifest in so many ways… like:

A Dream Deferred

by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?




We needs resolution… see?

Nothing is as nothing does?

Last week I showed up temporarily to, I guess, account for what I (hadn’t) been doing over the last month or so. Admittedly, a big problem of mine is feeling as if I’m not doing enough. That if I’m not receiving emails or receiving story request s that either I’m all washed up or I’m not writing enough, submitting enough, good enough.

It’s nearly mid-year, and so far, I don’t have a lot to show for it, acceptance wise.

On Twitter, I did a little tally. It was mostly affirmation for myself, but it went as such:

Stories submitted: 8

Stories accepted: 1

Stories rejected: 1

Stories pending: 6

So, on average, two stories submitted per month, which, in the scheme of things, really isn’t bad at all. I work full-time, I’m married and I’m raising twins with special needs. Hell, let’s even throw the dog and the turtle in there, too. I get the writing in when I can… well, if the inspiration is there. I’m not one of those “sit your ass down and get it done” types. I have to be moved to write, or I won’t produce anything worthwhile.

Some could say that’s a cop out; that if I really wanted to do this… and for YEARS I’ve been SAYING I want to do this.

But… I’ve yet to take the leap.

I’ve been thinking of resurrecting THE NOVEL. And if you’ve been a faithful reader of this blog, you’ll know that while I was pregnant, oh… eight, nine years ago, I produced and signed a book contract for WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE ON THE OUTSIDE. Back then it was to be my way out, a way I could stay at home with my newborns and realize my dream of being a full-time writer, but that particular publishing house when kaput and I was so soured by the turn of events that I put the novel away and never pitched it elsewhere. By the way, I didn’t have an agent and that was the only company I pitched it to and they immediately accepted it.

Almost daily, I hold the disc in my hand and consider popping it in, printing it out and revamping it. It seems simple enough, but I always talk myself out of it.

Man, I totally didn’t mean for the post to go THAT way.