Friday, April 27, 2012


Who is E.L. James? Why are readers gobbling Erika Leonard James' books?

I don't know.

Hey, I need to know ... got to look into this.

Why? Because I have six e-book novels that I'm hoping people will buy and read. I have to examine their "gobble" potential.

According to a lot of reviewers, E.L.'s books are erotic, hot, pornographic. "Her words are reducing the women of America to quivering masses of desire."

Time said, "Sex after marriage, the old saying goes, has three phases: kitchen, bedroom and hallway. Kitchen sex is the spontaneous type spouses have when they first get together. Bedroom sex is the more routine lovemaking that sets in after a few years. And hallway sex is when husband and wife pass each other in the hallway and say, 'Screw you.'"

E.L. James -- BOOM -- she's famous, making money, suddenly a name in the news. If she had best seller-be-rich-and-famous-dreams, they are coming true.

Until recently, E.L. was posting her stories online for free. Her trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker. Fifty Shades Freed" is going to be published by Random House. A seven figure deal has been made with Universal pictures for the movie rights to the trilogy.

How did this happen? Well ... she was working un-glamorously in TV production, organizing contracts and clearances.

The 48-year-old E.L., apparently happily married, mother of two teenage boys, found time to read the 700 romance novels that are stored in her attic. She says she's shy and prudish. She giggles, acts horrified, when asked to read aloud from one of the steamier passages in her book. She's told interviewers that she's unnerved when "People tell me the most intimate things. One woman told me she got an orgasm just from reading the book. Another recommend my book, saying, 'be sure to wear a panty liner.'"


Critics, in various ways, say E.L. James is not a very good writer. I read the opening chapters of the first two books of her trilogy, looking for steamy sex passages. (Didn't find them; the free download says that those pages are eliminated.)

What I read was mostly dialogue, not grabby, a bit boring, not inventive or real or ... well ... not very interesting. The characters are ... well ... paper-doll cut outs. They've got the basic attributes -- looks, charm. Passion is ... um ... described, implied ...

Have you ever read stage directions in a play? Passion is written in E.L's book like stage directions --"He sits.: "She stands." "She looks into his eyes." "He looks into her eyes."

I found it boring, but read on, and on, waiting for, hoping to read some panty liner sex. Even though there were additional free samples, more chapters of "Shades of Gray" that I could peruse, I didn't.

It just wasn't very interesting. Flat writing can be interesting, but this was childish, stiff, flat -- like a flat line on a heart monitor.

That pleased me, cheered me. Maybe it stifled the surge of jealousy, muted the suddenly-successful-big name E.L James BOOM.

Reality: My novels are not erotic. There's sex in all of them like spice -- enough to evoke a reader's interest -- not panty liner participation. I write from the spirit, soul, child dream that sent me into dancing. And I could really-really dance and express what I feel. And yes, I know that my words when I write truly express what I'm feeling.

It's a need to communicate. E.L. James is writing and playing out, as she writes, a fantasy that excites her sexually. I don't think that's the same thing.

So I've probably inspired you to visit Amazon. Peek at E.L. Peek at any of my novels. If you want a sex experience from reading a novel, have fun with E.L. James. If you want a trip into someone else's life. Try an Em book.

Click -- if you want to read a little of the trilogy right now.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Am I alone? NO. But often I feel very alone. I have things on my mind that I don't share with anyone because the thoughts aren't clear.

Sometimes when I feel lonely I sing, "None but the Lonely Heart," teasing my husband when he's deeply involved in watching sports.

Lately, I've seen quite a few articles on people living alone. Attitudes toward marriage and family have changed. Maybe it's a trend.

A recent front-page New York Times article says more than half of births to mothers under age 30 now occur out of wedlock. The article examines whether we are casting aside the institution of marriage, and the idea that children should be raised in stable two-parent families.

I've seen numbers in Time, Newsweek, and the NY Times -- today, out-of-wedlock births account for 73% of births among blacks, 53% among Latinos and 29% among whites. Economics plays a role -- it is harder for working-class men to get good jobs, making them marginally less marriageable. It is easier, on the other hand, for working-class women to get employment, making them marginally less dependent on men.

Maybe all this affects you. You're looking for a partner. You feel isolated from the people in your neighborhood. You're very lonely. But I have a son and a husband and we're a family. None of this explains why I sing these words: "None but the Lonely Heart, Can Know My Sadness,
Alone and Parted, Far from Joy and Gladness."

I sing it because I know that I am alone, a lone, single being, and singing about loneliness, is rueful, amusing, and cheers me up.

Yes! Sure, of course, I share many, many doings and thoughts with my husband -- about our son, about our home, finances, possessions, and pending things that have to do with his work and my work. But we are separate beings.

Wyeth portrayed aloneness as did Hopper in a way that we understand.

Wise men whom I admire, Thomas Wolfe, for instance, said: "The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence."

Orson Welles said: "We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone."

This is my favorite quote from a favorite poet philosopher, Khahil Gibran: "Love one another but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls."

Here a great song to sing, by Stephen Sondheim.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Is the LORAX what KIDS need -- not another Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or a Muppet. but a grandfatherly, orange, fat-tummied hero?

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, (published in 1971), is a big hit movie.

If you haven't seen the film, here's the plot, according to IMDb (International Movie Data Base: "Twelve-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world."

The boy's a gooney, sweet-faced, innocent but handsome kid. She's a prettier, gooney, sweet-faced but sassy, red head.

The girl loves nature and so does the boy, and that brings them together. They see that the forest's getting destroyed by the guy who's the big employer, and the richest guy (the "Once-ler") in town. He's destroying the Truffula trees -- turning them into saleable goods.

No wonder audiences have been flocking to see this movie. It's got environment, jobs, politics, and the selfish rich employer. AND it's selling these issues in TV-commercial style, repeating over and over the idea that nature is being ravaged by industrial greed.

Plus, the movie's got star's voices -- Ted , the boy (Zac Efron); Audrey, the girl, (Taylor Swift); Ted's grammy (Betty White); rich "Once-ler" (Ed Helms), AND the gruff Lorax (Danny DeVito).

No doubt about it -- it's a real-life story. The "Once-ler" was once a young man with a great money-making idea. He's been using the trees for manufacturing "thneeds" (I guess that's threads?) for snuggies. He's built up the local economy and created lots of jobs -- actually -- the Once-ler is a great business man. But, the forest is ruined. The Truffula trees are gone forever unless ... unless ...

Unless the Lorax, who fixes things, can maybe save them. AND the Lorax does. The old ruined forest is restored, made into a new synthetic Threedville, a gorgeous wonderland.

Critics have praised this movie. Parents and kids love it. And the producers are raking in the money. LORAX T-shirts, toys and CD's have been selling like hot cakes.

But ... Well ... It makes me sad. We are feeding our youngest generation comic book cartoon-concepts of -- well -- just about everything.

I keep thinking of Olive Beaupre Miller's books, that my oldest sister had in her attic room.

Six precious books ...

"No no, Emily, you mustn't touch."

I could only "read" on special occasions when my sister was there, making sure I wasn't going to wrinkle or dog-ear any pages.

The pages, and pages of illustrations filled my mind ...

Still fill my mind -- kings, queens. princesses, beggars, witches, goblins, animals, bats, birds, lions, forests, mountains, skies, castles, so many wondrous visions ...

Oh sure, I looked at comics -- I liked the "Dragon Lady," "Smiling Jack," and "Orphan Annie," but even now, when I draw, or write, in my mind I see those illustrations -- that castle ...

I climb and climb and search, and keep finding more marvelous amazing doors and windows in that castle ...

Enjoy Dr. Seuss' Lorax. Enjoy the lavishly disney-ated LORAX film. But gee -- please find a way to show the kids the castle ...

(The illustrations were by Milo Winter, Maginal Wright Enright, Donn P. Crane. Bert Elliott, Portia Jacob and Dorothy Hoff.)