Passions and Provocations

Alive and Thinking in Cyberspace: Pam's take on just about everything


More Leather. More Lace. More Lust

Because you can never have enough… here’s a Who’s Who (besides me, as Molly Weatherfield) of those who’ll be reading and/or performing at this fun event this Saturday night in San Francisco.

Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, is a best-selling, award-winning author of seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing.

Mistress Lorelei Powers is a well-known bi poly sadist and Domme. She is the author of several BDSM classics, including On Display, The Mistress Manual, and Charm School for Sissy Maids.

Blake C. Aarens is an author, poet, screenwriter, playwright, and a Black Girl Nerd.

Jean Marie Stine is the author of a number of pioneering works of erotica published in the late 1960 and early 1970s, beginning with Season of the Witch in 1968, which was filmed as the motion picture Synapse. Her erotic short stories and novelettes have been collected as Trans-sexual: Fiction for Gender Queers.

A.M. Davis is a poet, artist and novelist who lives in Oakland, California. Her first novel, You Were Always Waiting For This Moment to Arise, as well as her first poetry collection, Six Lifetimes of Love, will be published in late 2014.

M.Christian is a recognized master of erotica with more than 400 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica and many others.

While as for all the other significant W’s:

What: Leather, Lace, and Lust: An Evening of Erotic Storytelling and Sexual Merriment

Where: The Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, SF 94110

When: Saturday, August 30, doors open 6, event starts 7

and What it’ll cost: $10




Leather, Lace, and Lust

That’s the name of the event — subtitled “An Evening of Erotic Storytelling and Sexual Merriment” — that I’m going to be reading at (as Molly Weatherfield), this August 30.

It looks like big fun. Hope to see you there.

Other important stats:

Where: The Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, SF 94110
When: Saturday, August 30, doors open 6, event starts 7
Cost: $10

For more information (including capsule bios of all the readers), go to



Yeah, I thought that would get your attention, from Pam Rosenthal Erotic Writer and all. But actually, it’s also the title of a current favorite poem of mine, by the Sufi poet Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks. And on my birthday, in a small seaside town in Turkey, I want to share it… especially with those of you who’ve been patiently waiting for more books, and those of you who’ve been so supportive during these years.

Learn the alchemy true human beings
know; the moment you accept what

troubles you’ve been given, the door
will open. Welcome difficulty

as a familiar comrade. Joke with
torment brought by the Friend.

Sorrows are the rags of old clothes
and jackets that serve to cover,

then are taken off. That undressing,
and the naked body underneath, is

the sweetness that comes after grief.


Flying High, Whirling like a Dervish

What a lovely surprise. Michael and I were 30,000 feet up in the air (on our way to Istanbul) when I got an email from the fabulous Susie Bright, congratulating me for Carrie’s Story winning a 2014 Audie, for Best Audiobook of the Year in the Erotica Category (2014 being the first time that category has even existed).

AND, as Susie points out on Facebook, “This is the FIRST recognition, ever, of [the] erotic literature genre in ‘Audie’ history.” Not to speak of “the first time an erotic writer/work/actor has been given a mainstream, across-the-board literary award of ANY kind for its merit.”

Consider that for a moment.  As I am (for the first time actually). In our hotel lobby in Cappadocia, where after almost a week of soaking in Turkish art, scenery, and food, Susie’s words are finally sinking into my overworked sensorium.

Mainstream. Literary. Merit. Gosh.

I might still be 30,000 feet above the ground.



Look what book made this best-of list in, and in some very distinguished company — that’s Rose Lerner’s Sweet Disorder lolling beneath and some other fantastic stuff on the list).


Nice blurb in the slideshow, too — he calls it “His Girl Friday” as a spy novel set in the Regency. Which was definitely what I was going for.



Old and New and Audibly Cool

How about that? The Audio Publishers Association (APA) has announced finalists for its 2014 Audie Awards competition, the only awards program in the United States devoted entirely to honoring spoken word entertainment in 29 categories.

And yes, the spoken version of my erotic novel Carrie’s Story has been nominated for an Audie in the brand spanking new-this-year erotica category.

Ouch, sorry for the awful “spanking” pun. Anyhow, it’s a thrill, and not bad for a book that first hit print in 1995.

And here’s more about the award, including a list of all the nominees:




The Shame of Victimhood

We finally saw 12 Years a Slave last week.

And yes, it’s stunning. Both in its “sober beauty” and in the powerful wallop it packs, it’s stunning in the sense that it renders you speechless — and fills me with admiration for the professional movie reviewers who had to digest and render account of the experience on deadline. I know I couldn’t have done so, though I can urge you to see this movie if you haven’t. Even if (as we did) you’ve been putting it off because you know it’ll be painful.

It will be painful, and I’m guessing it will remain so in your memory, perhaps as it has in mine. But for me, anyway, it wasn’t painful in the way of trauma that shuts off thought and inquiry. Not only have the images lingered, but they’ve raised questions, first sending me back to Solomon Northup’s original 1853 narrative, and then forward to a gazillion movie reviews and articles, to see how other viewers took it in, and whether they understood certain scenes as I did.

Which is why I’m writing about it here — to try to think through my questions some more. And — if you have seen it — to check in with you and see what you made of, in particular, the movie’s closing scene, of Solomon Northup’s reunion with his wife and (now) grown children, that Slate’s critic Dana Stevens rightly called “soul-rending,” and “the unhappiest happy ending” she’d ever seen, “a moment that makes you weep not just for this one man who found his way back to freedom, but for all those men and women who never knew it in the first place.”

All of which is true and eloquently put, if impossible to imagine without reference to Chiwetel Ejiofor’s face, emotions passing over it in agonized, complicated sequence. But which doesn’t account for what he says, which is to apologize to his family through his tears, and which I found deeply mysterious.

Apologize for what, I wondered? There’s no such apology in the memoir. And surely (as Northup’s wife hastens to say) no apology is necessary, most especially from some one so unambiguously victimized. Is it because Northrup nonetheless feels he ought to have understood this own vulnerability? That it was vain, self-regarding, simply foolish, to have let his guard down? That not only he but also his family have suffered for his hubris?

Is there something about the sight of his children, grown up without him? Is it all of the above, in some inextricable combination?

Or is it perhaps that there’s a kind of shame that adheres to suffering, even the most undeserved suffering? I’m not even exactly sure what I mean by this last, but it’s the pole to which my thoughts continue to gravitate, that seems to me to sum up all the other possibilities. The isolation of the feeling.

And does this have anything to do with director Steve McQueen’s last movie, called Shame?

I’d be grateful to hear what you think.


More about Longbourn, and Why I’m Claiming it for Romance

When I fall in love — with a book, an idea, and of course a person — I want to think hard about the object of my passion. Which is another reason why I love to write (because it’s the best way to get to know the how and the why and the he and the she of your passions). And maybe why I don’t write more often (cause how often does a person truly fall in love?)

And why I had such a wonderful time recently, writing at length about Longbourn, Jo Baker’s spectacular retelling of Pride and Prejudice. The post went up today, at Noah Berlatsky’s very smart blog of cultural commentary, The Hooded Utilitarian. And why I’m hoping you’ll come over and let me know what you think.

I call it “I’ll Take Romance: Reading Longbourn,” because it’s an investigation of this literary historical novel as a very very good romance novel — which is ultimately how I read it. Passionately, can’t-put-it-down-until-I-get-to-the-omg-it-better-be-a-happy-endingly. I’m curious what others think and how they read it. So do come read and share.

While as for why Noah calls his blog “The Hooded Utilitarian,” your guess is as good as mine. But I’m grateful for his permission to write my heart out.


Smart Thoughts on Writing

From Delia Ephron’s memoir/essay collection Sister Mother Husband Dog… (etc)

Our job as writers, as we begin that journey, is to figure out what we can do. Only do what you can do. It’s a rule I live by…. [I]f you only do what you can do, you never have to worry that someone else is doing it. It keeps you from competing It keeps you looking inside for what’s true rather than outside for what’s popular. Ideally. Your writing is your fingerprint.

It’s our job in life to come to some understanding of our new identity and being a writer makes that easier. What do I think? What do I love? What do I see? What are my stories? come up over and over again and/or reveal themselves, sometimes unintentionally, over and over again.

So true for me, I wanted to share it with you.


Reading on the Road, with Janet, Jane, Jo Baker, and my Mom

With so much of my family on the East Coast, my trips back here from California become elaborate omnibus affairs, with so many craftily-designed stops up and down the eastern seaboard that I sometimes lose track and wind up having to pay megabucks for a last-minute Amtrak reservation (and worth every penny, needless to say, especially when that leg of the trip included seeing my granddaughters and their parents).

My trips are sometimes built around book promo, sometimes around family events — weddings! bar and bat mitzvahs! (I’ve always been delighted by the strange ironic Jewish genius that causes us to celebrate the advent of a kid’s journey through darkest adolescence). This one was a Connecticut bar mitzvah, w/ the cantor setting a few psalms to Leonard Cohen’s Halleluiah. Not bad.

But I also kind of made it a book event, by bringing a copy of Jo Baker’s novel Longbourn — the Pride and Prejudice story as lived by the servants – to my Mom for a belated 92nd birthday present. Belated-shmelated –  my mom was really wanting to read it and so have I been ever since Janet Mullany started rhapsodizing over it. Rightly, as it turned out; Longbourn‘s every bit as good Janet said..

And so Mom and I spent a happy two days reading at her kitchen table, she turning pages and I (some 100 virtual Kindle pages ahead) coldly and cruelly refusing to reassure her about how it all turns out. Not that I could have done much about it even if I’d wanted to, because Baker keeps you guessing (hoping, agonizing) until the very end.

And that’s all you’re going to find out from me, except to say that Longbourn made me weep and marvel. For me it was what novelist and critic Christopher Beha calls holy crap fiction, the kind of book where you finish it and think, “holy crap, what was that about?” Fiction that makes you think differently.

Mileage may vary, of course. One person’s holy crap book… But I’m still mulling over all that (and thanking Noah Berlatsky  for his smart comments on Beha, and for turning my thoughts toward these knotty and entertaining matters). And also mulling over whether Longbourn, though not written for the romance market, could be considered a romance novel.

Stay tuned.

And if you’ve read Longbourn, I’d love to know what you think.