Passions and Provocations

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


UnderCover Reads

Here’s the lineup this Saturday night. See my events page for time and place.

Tales from Outriders, OutWriters, and Outliers

brought to you by Cleis Press, presenting “some of the smartest and dirtiest minds of our generation”

Adrian Brooks (moderator) is an American writer and activist who’s been the vanguard of progressive political, spiritual and social movements since the 1960s. An international traveler, poet, performer, playwright, painter and designer, he is, also, a novelist and nonfiction writer. In 1968, he volunteered for Martin Luther King in Washington, DC, and he organized what may have been the first public gay poetry reading in 1974. Brooks is the author of Flights of Angels: My Life with the Angels of Light, and is currently working on an anthology about LGBT activism, American Queer, that will be published by Cleis in May of next year.

Dr. Carol Queen is a writer, speaker, educator and activist with a doctorate in sexology. First as an organizer in the lesbian/gay community, where she helped found one of the first gay youth groups in the United States, and later in the emerging international bisexual community, as a sex worker and a practitioner of alternative sexualities, she typically teaches and writes from her own experience and that of her communities. Her books from Cleis Press include Pomosexuals, Real Live Nude Girl, and Switch Hitters. She lives in San Francisco, where she is the Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist. Find her online at

Katie Gilmartin received a Ph.D. in cultural studies from Yale, with an emphasis in queer history. After teaching the history of sexuality and queer studies for a decade at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the University of California, Berkeley, and The New College, she became a printmaker. Her prior publications are academic essays based on interviews she conducted with lesbians about their lives in the 1940s and 1950s. Blackmail My Love: A Murder Mystery, out now with Cleis Press, is her first work of fiction. Gilmartin lives in San Francisco.

Pam Rosenthal penned the erotic classics Carrie’s Story and Safe Word as her alter ego and evil twin, Molly Weatherfield. The novels follow a highly literate bike messenger named Carrie and a moody, gorgeous control freak named Jonathan. Combining kinky, graphic sexuality with smartass introspection, the books have picked up a cult following since the mid-90s. A prolific romance and erotica writer, Pam has penned many sexy, literate, historical novels. She is a native New Yorker—born in Brooklyn and proud of it—and now lives in San Francisco.

Rose Caraway is a native Northern California Writer, Editor, Narrator, and Podcaster on the hit shows “The Kiss Me Quick’s” ( Erotica Podcast and “The Sexy Librarian Blog-cast”, ( The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica is her first ever Cleis Press collection, and is available in stores now. Although her specialty is erotic fiction, she also has a passion for writing suspense, horror, fantasy, and romance works. In addition to writing, Rose’s other passions revolve around keeping an active lifestyle, and a deep love of music and its many incarnations. If you would like to get in touch with her, just search Rose Caraway in Facebook, Twitter and most other social media sites.


And the Winners…

There were three of you who knew which book a Textbook Committee in Alabama once wanted to remove from the schools for being (wait for it) a ‘real downer.’

Yup, Anne Frank’s Diary. Which has also been challenged by reason of its teenage author’s clear and candid (and wonderfully written) observations of her changing body and sexuality, for her supposed disrespect for “authority,” and as a “hoax” by Holocaust deniers.

All infuriating, but it’s the word “downer” that gets me every time. Something about its lazy banality makes me want to celebrate the book and its author — angrily, out loud and passionately.

But what passage to read at the El Cerrito Library Banned-Book-a-Thon? Because although I could remember every character, and in some detail, the fact is that I hadn’t actually read the book since I was about Anne’s age. Which was okay. I’ve been wanting to check it out again since I read what Philip Roth’s literary alter-ego, Nathan Zuckerman, says about the young author (in The Ghost Writer):

She was something for thirteen. It’s like watching an accelerated film of a fetus sprouting a face, watching her mastering things…. Suddenly she’s discovering reflection, suddenly there’s portraiture, character sketches, suddenly there’s a long intricate eventful happening so beautifully recounted it seems to have gone through a dozen drafts.

Actually, Anne Frank did put her diary through at least two drafts. As more of her papers are published,  we see the evidence of hard, focused working and reworking, over time, as the author’s powers of observation and understanding mature.

Which is why the material I chose included a passage Anne wanted to develop into a short story, which brilliantly shows (and never tells!) how different residents of the “Secret Annex” express and don’t express their fears and emotions, while employing their own personal potato peeling techniques. And how I discovered why, more than half a century after my first reading, I could still name everyone in the Diary.

And although, last Tuesday night at the El Cerrito Library, it might have seemed odd for a writer of feelthy books to choose to read what’s come to seem like a middle school standby, I hope I gave the lie to that.

A “downer” that such a richness of writerly talent existed and even flourished in such hateful circumstances? Hey, I wouldn’t even use the word in reference to the author’s horrible, lonely death at Bergen-Belson. This is why we have language — to try (and never quite manage) to understand and account for the wonderful and the awful and the everyday — not to dismiss them with a shrug and an sneer.

And why you have to read the Diary if you haven’t (hopefully in one of the later editions that include the additional passes), and even to check it out again if it’s been a while. And also to read Francine Prose’s excellent summary of the book and its fortunes, Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife.

Anyway, thanks for playing. Kudos to the readers who got it, including award-winning poet Jan Steckel, and an occasional pen-pal I hope to get to talk to at length someday, recent Golden Heart winner, soon to be published by Avon, Lenora Bell.


Worst Reason Ever to Ban a Book (and a mini-contest)

The more I think about the stupid and evil reasons people demand that this or that book be removed from this or that list or shelf (not to speak of burned), the more steamed I get, and the more convinced that I’ve chosen the right book to read from at the El Cerrito Library’s Banned Book Read-a-Thon (see my events page for details).

And the reason this book was challenged, imo worst reason ever? (Not that there’s ever a good reason to keep people from reading books.) That it’s “a real downer.”

And so I’m having a little contest. What book do you think it was?

DON’T POST ANSWERS AS COMMENTS. Instead, send your guesses to Pam at PamRosenthal dot com (put the word DOWNER in the subject line). And you’ll get any of my books, autographed (well, except the eBook of The Bookseller’s Daughter, which, now that I think of it, happens to take place in the forbidden book trade). And a little chocolate.

So which book do you think it was? Which book did the Alabama Textbook Committee, in 1983, think oughtn’t be in the schools because it was “a real downer?”

Deadline, Tuesday Sept 23, 6 PM PST (since the reading begins at 7)

Let me know.


Readings Coming Up: Banned Books and More

At the next reading, coming up quite soon, I’ll be part of an interesting and diverse lineup of local and independent authors, publishers, and librarians selling our books and talking a little about them.

But as to what we’ll be reading — that comes from another corpus. Because next week is Banned Books Week, the book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read, when libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events.

The 2014 celebration will be held September 21-27. And I’ve been invited to participate in the Banned Books Read-a-Thon at the El Cerrito Library next Tuesday night, September 23rd at 7pm. Brenda Knight and Peg Conley, also from Cleis Press and Viva Editions, will be there, and I’m looking forward to meeting Stephanie McCoy, whom I already know from her deliciously atmospheric novel, Sweet as Cane, as well as the rest of the authors and publishers.

And, of course, I’m looking forward to what everybody’s going to choose to read. We’ve been asked to commit to protecting our First Amendment by reading from a favorite, classic or child’s book that’s been challenged in schools, bookstores, or libraries. Which (happily and also sadly) gives us a long list of terrific stuff to choose from.

I’ve already made my choice. A particularly wonderful and important book that, imo, has been challenged for the single most absurd and dispiriting reason ever.

Curious? Come on out to the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave., El Cerrito, CA, 7PM, Tuesday, Sept 23 (over 18 only).

But wait! There’s more! You can also come and hear me read at the San Francisco Women’s Building, at 6PM October 18. The event’s called UnderCover Reads, Tales from Outriders, OutWriters, and Outliers. It’s part of San Francisco’s giant LitQuake celebration, and you can find out more about it here.

And (after I’ve been so quiet for so long) still more: the Leather, Lace, & Lust event I read at last Aug 30 went so well that we’ve decided to make it a series. Next reading, December 13. Stay tuned for more info.


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: