26 July 2012

Writing Inspiration

Remember when I told you about my writing process?  Well the next question I'll answer in my writing series is what inspires me.

As I stared blankly at my computer for several minutes, listening to "Dirty Paws" by Of Monsters and Men, I came up with nothing. Just kidding. Maybe.

In a sense, nothing and everything inspires me. I never know when a news story, Facebook status, tweet, photo, overheard conversation, or human interaction will trigger a desire to write a blog/script/story. Sometimes I'm just sitting or exercising (mostly sitting) and an idea comes to me from inside my brain with no help from the outside world at all... it's rare but it happens. Movies, television, music, and books also provide ample inspiration in the depths of their art.

Wow. What a non-committal, general, boring answer.

To dive deeper into the specifics, I draw themes from experiences throughout life. For example, I'm wholly fascinated by vanity and the general bias and preference toward physically attractive individuals.  At the same time, my faith inspires questions and struggles with a belief in God and following a religion.
My awareness of my imperfections-- okay okay, my self-consciousness-- and excellent powers of observing people help me add flaws and dimension to characters and write realistic dialog. I have a general curiosity about the mind, what makes people tick, and how to influence them-- sounds utterly villainous of me, doesn't it?

Interests also influence the desire to write: my love of fantasy and animation, Jane Austen, action flicks, and humor. I'm a firm believer in not taking oneself too seriously and coping with life through laughter. This ideal, I believe, is pushing my writing into a more comedic direction... though I don't think I'm funny. I just find things amusing and feel that nothing in life is without hope.

What most inspires me to write is the process and act of writing itself. Taking my ideas and turning them into whole stories with people, places, and things. I use writing to rifle through my feelings and figure out more of myself-- it's therapy.  It can be utterly frustrating, completely joyous, intensely emotional, and is always personal. That's why many writers hate criticism or won't ever share their work: my creative work is a part of me and it took months to complete! For me, though, once I get the words out and on the page, it's time to send my work out to take shape in the world and find its place.  Actually, blogging has greatly helped my fear of sharing.

Watching letters become words become sentences become paragraphs become stories is incredible. Then to have someone else interpret and bring your story to life is even more beautiful because you get to see first hand how your work influences others. But first and foremost, writing is for the author, not the audience. So if you feel the urge to write, do it for yourself and no one else.

25 July 2012


My friends: you have until 11:59 PST to purchase "Fitzwilliam Ebenzer Darcy" by Barbara Tiller Cole for FREE on your Kindle.
That's right... F-R-E-E. Check out the post about it here.

Barbara is also the administrator/ lead blogger for Darcyholic Diversions, this amazing Jane Austen Fan Fiction blog that offers various authors' insights into Mr. Darcy and the world of Jane Austen, as well as personal experience on how they got to know Miss Austen.

If you've never read fan fiction but love Austen, give this a try. It's free and well-written so get your copy today.

24 July 2012


This past Sunday, July 22nd, was my birthday (more on that in another post) so my mom and her friend Karen (my second mom growing up) flew in to LAX last Monday, and we drove down to Anaheim for a few days at Disney.  We bunked together at the Anaheim Hilton--total waste of money: the pool costs extra!-- and spent Monday evening wandering through Downtown Disney...

We enjoyed New Orleans' style cuisine at Ralph Brennan's Jazz kitchen.

Then we wandered through Downtown Disney where I found that amazing Lego Maleficent being a total bad ass and Michael ate a delicious turkey leg marshmallow rice treat. We walked to the Disneyland Resort (the entrance to which is a giant sorcerer's hat) and had cocktails at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar. Remind me to post a pic of the adorable souvenir barrel cups we got.

Tuesday was all about Disneyland:

I got a few pictures of the castle, a duck butt (it was adorable watching that little guy's legs flailing), the Matterhorn which was under construction while we visited in February, and Pixie Hollow. Sadly, I did not wait in line to meet Tinker Bell since it was a 45 minute wait... but I think next time I will. I love Tink! It also happened to be Disneyland's 57th birthday that day!!!

While I like Disneyland and its iconic rides well enough, the park feels cramped and is frustrating just to walk through (and I spent many summers of my childhood visiting WDW in June). It's a park for families and children wanting to meet Mickey and ride Dumbo.  Though I'll never be able to skip Disneyland as my favorite ride will always be Big Thunder Mountain and I have to go on at least once every trip!

So Wednesday we made it to my favorite park (probably in the whole of the Walt Disney theme park company): California Adventure. I'd been to CA Adventure summer of 2003 and... it wasn't anything special. But the improvements have made a world of difference... a Disney World of difference! See what I did there?

Most recently, Disney turned the entrance into "Buena Vista Street:" a tribute to the Los Angeles that Walt would've lived in when "it all started with a mouse." Plus Cal Adventure also just opened a little section called... CARS LAND!!!

The wonderfully retro entrance to California Adventure. The new trolley car in Buena Vista Street.

The latest and greatest of the gourmet Disney Parks' restaurants, the Carthay Circle has international cuisine that's been "Californianized." I ordered the Korean pulled pork with my very first sunny-side up egg, kimchi, and fries. BEST. FOOD. EVER. We grabbed a midday cocktail in the Lounge first and spent a leisurely lunch chatting and staring at the desserts as we were seated in front of the pastry chef's line. 
In true Disney fashion, the manager gave us a free Summer Country Pie (berries and white nectarines!) as he overheard us admiring everything. Our waitress gave me two birthday truffles and our entire party  premium seat tickets to World of Color. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to see the show as we left for home that night since we hadn't gotten any sleep on Tuesday and were EXHAUSTED.
CARS LAND!!!! It was adorable-- straight out of the film! Mom modeling the souvenir tire hat.

Another new addition to California Adventure (and all of Disney) is Starbucks! Some genius at Starbucks got together with some genius at Disney and finally asked, "Why the hell haven't we started a joint venture yet?!" You can use your coupons and gold cards at this location :)

Michael got me some stellar Mickey jewelry for my birthday!!

And what would a post about Cal Adventure be without a shot of the "Pier" and Radiator Springs Racers at dusk.

If you get the chance to visit California Adventure and experience the new Radiator Springs Racers ride-- please do so. But you need to be at there by 8am to get a Fast Pass as they run out of those by 9:30am. The stand-by wait was 2 and a half hours Tuesday night, but after experiencing the ride on Wednesday (I went the shorter route and waited in the single rider line), it's worth waiting for.  

What kind of a ride is it? Well, you ride in a 6-seater car and begin the ride by driving through the "canyon" and admiring the waterfall. Then suddenly you enter a tunnel, are almost hit by Mack the Truck and are pulled over by Sheriff. You enter Radiator Springs and all your favorite characters greet you. Then you're challenged to a race, Luigi and Guido give your car new tires, and you're off racing around the canyon with another car full of passengers! As is the Disney way, everyone wins and you're definitely smiling by the end.

It's not a thrill ride: Racers is just plain fun. I had no idea the scope of this ride until I get inside to see that the Imagineers recreated the town and life-size cars. I mean... they even move their "lips" to talk! If you remotely like the movie Cars, this ride will not disappoint.

Having the opportunity to spend any birthday at any Disney park is a blessing, so I am truly grateful for the amazing birthday gift from my mother (parents-- my dad couldn't go). That woman also paid for several meals, Karen treated us all to dinner at the Blue Bayou (the restaurant INSIDE the Pirates of the Caribbean ride) and a bracelet, not to mention my mom still got me a purse, Starbucks card, and clothes. I'm spoiled, it's true.

My next Disney goal is to go back with Michael-- just the two of us-- and stay at the Grand Californian. Either that or book a resort at WDW since he's never been there...

21 July 2012

No Easy Solution

As we all know, a huge tragedy occurred Thursday night when a psycho decided to shoot up a movie theater full of excited teens and twenty-somethings ready to savor the final film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. 12 people are now dead, including a 6 year old.

In typical Facebook fashion, the online world had a moment of silence then suddenly everyone breaks out into an opinion of the why, how, and what could have been done to prevent it.  There's this need to place blame on outside sources because, I think, the idea that one man just felt like killing people and creating mass hysteria is incomprehensible.

It must be his upbringing-- blame it on the parents.
It must be the movies he watches-- blame it on Hollywood.
There should've been an alarm-- blame it on the Theater.
It's the costume that gave him the confidence-- blame it on Cosplay.
He shouldn't have been able to get a gun-- blame it on the Government.
This is happening too much in the US-- blame it on America.

And so on... and so on....

As far as anyone knows, his parents are decent American citizens, not to mention he'd been out of the house for a while. Claiming that movies (and music) "make" people do things is the most absurd idea ever.  Perhaps an alarm should've gone off-- and I think it might have-- but most people assume someone accidentally went out the wrong door or the system malfunctioned.

In terms of costuming, yes, I do believe the anonymity-- or more the mystery-- behind a mask will give certain people confidence, but that's not what made this man snap.  He planned this shooting weeks, maybe months, in advance. He didn't wear a costume to buy supplies, build bombs, booby trap his place, and ultimately decide to kill 12 people. Plus I wouldn't even call his vest and mask a costume: it was functional attire for throwing tear gas and potentially getting into a firefight with police. Not to mention he looked like Bane, a fact I'm sure a PhD candidate like himself took into account during the planning.

And gun control... I've never been a fan of guns. They give people too easy of a solution to commit harm to another person in order to solve a problem. Does that sentence make sense??? But what would stricter permit regulations and less availability of firearms really prevent? Outlawing guns would have the same result as outlawing alcohol-- and we all know how well Prohibition went.  Even adding a psychological evaluation (which isn't a bad idea and one to be considered when giving someone a driver's license in LA) wouldn't prevent a true sociopath from obtaining weapons and committing murder. While we're at it, should the US add metal detectors to every public venue-- grocery stores, malls, theaters, churches, etc-- and require permits to purchase the common household items used to make bombs?

This man, James Holmes, is intelligent. Intelligent enough to build explosives, to enter the movie theater empty handed and use a back exit to bring in weapons. He knows how to play the game, to pass a psych evaluation and correctly fill out permits. Punishing all Americans, many of whom savor the Right to Bear Arms and won't shoot down unarmed citizens, for the horrendous actions of a few is not the solution. Sadly, I don't know a great solution other than trying to love one another. It's so corny, but if we all took the time to appreciate each other more, say a few more "pleases" and "thank you's" perhaps potential murderers won't feel the human race is without hope and want to destroy it.

12 people died-- can't we just send prayers and love to the families and friends of the victims? The blame game is tiring and pointless. The opposing sides will never agree to a solution because, unfortunately, there is no solution. My heart goes out to the 6 year old, who had her whole life ahead of her, to the Naval officers and young men and women with futures ahead of them. While one horrible-- dare I say "EVIL"-- man gets all the focus from Americans and other countries, we forget that 12 wonderful, good people lost their lives.

America is full of good. The world is full of good. The anger and arguments are what such villains as Holmes want.  He was a fan of Heath Ledger's "Joker" and perhaps of the Anarchist ideal.  Let's fight such chaos and horror with togetherness, charity, and the will to make the world a better, safer place by teaching love and kindness. We must continue to hope.

"The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places. But there is still much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater."

J.R.R. Tolkien
Lord of the Rings

15 July 2012

The Process of Writing

My cousin-- an expert librarian (she has a Masters, people!) with an insightful book review blog-- asked me a few questions about my writing process, inspiring me to answer them with a series of blogs (that and the message was getting WAY too long). I also love talking about myself.

Here are the questions:

  • Do you schedule time for yourself to write or just whenever you feel like it?
  • What inspires you?
  • Is writing a script like writing a novel or is it more formulaic?
  • Is it more difficult to write dialogue than narrative?
And so we begin with the Writing Process (question 1)...

Though I've been privately writing for several years, not to mention telling stories since I realized I had this great thing called an "imagination," I still feel like a complete noob. That's mostly due to the fact that I've never been hired to write professionally (any day now!) so I have no idea what such an experience would be like. 

The other side of feeling like it's still the first day of Writing School (if only such a place existed) is the inadequacy of realizing how little I know or-- to put it another way-- how much I still need to learn. One of the key ingredients to great writing that I'm figuring out is my writing process.  Do I work better during the day? night? morning? afternoon? Should I play music, if so what kind? Where should I write? How should I write a script? 

I certainly can't write immediately in the morning-- at least not before coffee. I also don't do well on a graveyard sleep schedule. For a while I would wake up at 2 or 3 in the afternoon and stay awake until 6am... okay, sometimes 9am. I never got anything done. I would love a desk workspace, but at the moment that's not possible. While I love music, if I listen to songs I know, the lyrics distract me from the story. All things I'm learning and learning to work around. While it's good to know what does and does not work, I want to be flexible rather than fussy if I can't have things my way all the time.

When I do try to create a schedule it lasts one day, maybe two if I'm really on the ball. Yet I respect and adhere to deadlines: every college writing assignment made it to the professor on time. Personally, I think the idea of turning the creative process into a 9 to 5 job is pointless: you can't schedule inspiration.  

I feel guilty about not having a writing schedule, but then I think about what the late Nora Ephron said about her own process:

"I don't have much of a routine. I go through periods where I work a great deal at all hours of the day whenever I am around a typewriter, and then I go through spells where I don't do anything. I just sort of have lunch-- all day. I never have been able to stick to a schedule. I work when there is something due or when I am really excited about a piece."

If Nora Ephron could live without a writing schedule, then perhaps there's hope for me yet.

14 July 2012

Temple Run

Want an iPhone game that's fun, simple, and easy to play on the go? Look no further than Temple Run. This game by Imangi Studios is exactly what the title suggests: players run through a temple until they die. "Guy Dangerous"-- the first of seven unlock-able characters-- steals the golden idol and evil demon monkeys appear to rip him to shreds, thus he must run. Unfortunately for Guy, there are quite a few hiccups on the temple path, from overgrown tree roots, flames, broken sections, and drop-offs.

Players must swipe the screen to turn their character, jump, or slide, as well as balance the phone so he doesn't fall off into crocodile infested waters. While running, coins appear on the path that earn upgrades and purchasable bonuses. These can also be purchased with real money by the impatient players. Plus, the more distance covered the faster and more challenging the path becomes, as well as increasing the value of the coins.

It's an excellent game to pop open while waiting for the next meeting to start or killing time on a lunch break. And if you're a seasoned Temple Run player looking for another challenge, try Disney Pixar's Temple Run: Brave

My Town 2

My Town 2 is a Real-World application game made by developer Booyah-- and it's incredibly addictive. Available on iPhone/iPad, this free app allows players to create their ideal towns by purchasing businesses, community properties, housing, and decorations, as well as adding wonders that help boost population and income.  Two types of currency-- coins and bucks-- make up the purchasing system. Coins are earned through businesses doing "jobs" over an allotted time and houses paying rent.  Like most free games of this nature, My Town has its rare currency in bucks, and of course all of the fun stuff and better paying businesses cost bucks rather than coins. They're hard to come by unless  won through the daily "Spin to Win" slot machine, players watch a certain amount of thirty second ads, or are purchased in bundle packs with real money. Coins and a couple Wonders are also purchasable with money.

Growing population helps unlock housing and community purchases so players definitely have goals, though experience points are fairly useless after reaching level 10. Still, Booyah keeps players coming back with changing themes-- superheroes come out Monday, July 16th and they just finished up Steampunk-- and updates that always add another element to gameplay, such as an inventory stash, more land, and the ability to upgrade community buildings, not just businesses.

Finally, the social element is limited but slowly improving. While "mayors" are unable to personally contact one another, players can add anyone's town to their Friends List, as well as send other mayors gifts (though you're limited to five per day). I particularly love searching for towns with better businesses so I can sell my old ones and purchase new ones that make more money. There are always reasons to keep playing.  

**One final note: if you have both an iPhone and iPad, My Town 2 can only be played on one of those, not both. Otherwise your game will crash. 

11 July 2012

Keeping Busy

Hello fellow bloggers and readers!

My apologies for not updating in a while and for such a short post now. Normally I don't feel the need to make excuses for not writing since it's my blog and all, but I just wanted to let you know that I've been busy writing and building my online portfolio and planning the future (and by that I mean moving in a couple months NOT having a baby). Details to come.

Also, I've stumbled across this amazing online community of JAFF writers, readers, bloggers, and anyone else obsessed with Jane Austen and her novels. I've never had anyone else to share this more-than-just-an-interest with but... now I do! And I just won a book for commenting on posts (they get entered into book giveaways)-- how fun!!!  One blog post even inspired me to write my own JAFF story, it's going to be from Jane Bennett's perspective-- I can't tell you how thrilling this is going to be :)

So to keep all of you busy while waiting for my next post (because you have nothing else to do, right?), here are few links and humorous pictures to fill the void of my absence:

For JAFF enthusiasts--
Darcyholic Diversions

For JAFF and other fiction book reviews--
So Little Time...

Lifestyle and Fashion blog (and this beautiful lady has lost almost 40lbs since January, she's an inspiration!)--
A Little Slice of Special

My husband Michael's music (he updates weekly, people!)--
Original Scores by Michael Nicholas

Pins from a German Goddess

The Typewriter Song

An "Ode to Joy" Flashmob

For the Laugh...

A nice problem to have.

You know it's true.

Chelsea Peretti

FYI-- this is real.

08 July 2012

Highlight Reels

In a world of Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram, Foursquare, etc etc, Furtick’s words have never rung so true. I’m just as guilty as everyone else, trying to use FB as a way to show people who think I’m boring (yes, they exist) that my life is full of adventure and people should talk to me because I’m interesting. At least… I used to. I have reached a point of maturity where I no longer need social networking to prove myself to anybody.

Yet this new philosophy has the opposite effect if one isn’t careful. Other people like to use FB as a way to show family, friends, and frienemies how badass they are, how they don’t care what anyone thinks and be as rude/offensive/abrasive/wild as possible. Little do they know this is the same behavior as those who prefer to show off. The bottom line: people want ATTENTION.

Suddenly self-worth depends on how many “likes” and comments you receive on public posts. Perhaps the word “worth” is a bit of an exaggeration. Yet we who visit Facebook regularly all have moments of frustration toward friends who only document when they go out or attend an event, trying to make life appears like it's always moving and they’re constantly social. Facebook has become a Brag-a-thon.

I know this bothers people. Not everyone, but many people will temporarily shut down their accounts because all they ever feel from FB is frustration, jealousy, and anger. People who are so annoyed at the false face friends put on when posting online will suddenly feel the urge to filter their “Friends” list or stop posting for a few months. It’s possible you’ve done this yourself (I know I have).

While this used to affect me, I am trying to view such individuals with a mixture of humor and pity, especially because I know that most of these people who think they lead interesting lives that deserve constant attention are full of crap. A person who travels all the time might be fighting to keep their finances afloat. Someone who goes out all the time might be incredibly lonely… or can’t stand to be alone. An individual who drinks or shops a lot might have an addiction. How many celebrities that seem to lead fantastic lives we peons only dream of are actually on the brink of nervous break downs, have substance abuse problems, or can’t stop their marriages from crumbling?

My point? If you ever feel like your life is boring or you are boring, remember that on social networks you’re seeing someone’s highlight reel. At the same time, remember that these people who love to show off, could have major personal issues. You really never know.

A friend of mine—we hadn’t been close in a few years but he attended our wedding and lived with us for a summer—killed himself this past Sunday. He had a successful career, a wife of almost 2 years, a new daughter, and had started a software business on the side 6 months ago. On the Facebook surface, his life seemed utterly enviable and happy. To find out he was dead was shocking enough, but that he felt compelled to take his own life…

As you know from my battle with depression, I understand those feelings and the desperation in believing there is no hope. Who knows if some aspect of his life was so out of balance that he felt suicide was the only option, or perhaps he was taking medicine that screwed with his head so much he felt his life was worthless (the autopsy is still underway).

While his death isn’t my personal loss—that is felt by his family & close friends—the news has brought forth these thoughts.  I wish people would be real, would stop trying so hard and be themselves. If something isn’t right, please talk to friends or family or seek help, but know that there is no need to make everything seem fantastic on FB. At the same time, I feel utterly checked at my past frustrations with friends who always seemed to brag. Not that my friend was one of those guys, but it has made me rethink any envious tendencies I may have toward others. Let’s all just love and try to help one another, and have the humility to accept love and help from others.

**If you know someone or have yourself been contemplating suicide, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here.

04 July 2012

50 Shades of Grey

It's true. I succumbed to the hype and controversy around the 50 Shades trilogy and bought them for my Kindle. The same thing happened when the fourth Twilight book came out and I wondered why people were lining up at Borders for a midnight release. While I'm quite aware that popularity has nothing to do with quality, I'm intrigued when a bunch of my friends and family are talking about a book/movie/band/whatever. My curiosity backfired with Twilight as I did not enjoy the series as a whole (Eclipse wasn't so bad).

The irony of my Twilight experience is that 50 Shades was originally Twilight fan fiction; a trivia tidbit I wasn't aware of until AFTER I purchased the book. In fact, E.L. James actually admits these scenes started out as her mid-life crisis fantasies. Obviously things-- like the characters' names-- have been changed and adjusted to turn this Edward and Bella "what if" tale into its own highly marketable trilogy. Though perhaps the true appeal of books like Grey and Twilight is that they help other women deal with their own mid-life crises. At least they're cheaper than a sports car.

Anyway, this is a review for the first book and I'm already off topic.

***WARNING: the following contains the use of sexually explicit words. Read at your own risk***

Book One introduces readers to the awkward and bookish Anastasia Steele who is about to graduate college with (surprise surprise) a degree in English. If you've never read the books and are assuming Ana is clumsy, isn't really popular but has a beautiful and popular best friend, prefers books to parties, has unruly hair, and is beautiful but doesn't know it because of her self-esteem issues... you would be correct. YAWN. This female-type is cliche and boring. There's this need for women writers with their own self-esteem issues to prove that nerdy girls can get the hot, rich, successful, and brooding Prince Charming (and pretty girls can suck it).

Guess that's why these books are fiction.

It's obvious James is writing herself into this character, especially with Ana's inner dialog. She says "Holy Crap/ Fuck/ Shit" a lot. To the point where I want to slap her and say, "you're an English major, dammit! Use your words!" Although Ana is one-dimensional, she's still far more proactive and intelligent than Bella Swan (like that's much of stretch). When she's not busy mentally contradicting Christian's praise of her beauty ("how can a Greek god want me?"... blah blah blah), Ana has a sharp wit that only comes out in her email flirtations with Christian Grey. Actually, I could read an entire book of their emails, that's how much I love them. And be sure to read the subject line and Christian's email signature-- they change with the conversation.

Christian Grey, on the other hand, is interesting and has me wanting... to know more about his back story. Though at times he comes off as a little too capable of saying the right words at the right time in the most unrealistically romantic way. And while there's an amusing ongoing joke about his stalker tendencies, Christian's jealousy and possessiveness would be restraining order worthy in the real world. Like I said: FICTION.  In terms of other Twilight character tie-ins, yes, there is a "Jake," a free-spirited mom and serious but loving (step)dad, a "perfect" family, an "Alice," and in Book Two a James and Victoria, though they're not together.

On to story. With a romance paralleling Bella and Edward, it's predictable, cheesy at times, and rather boring. I was going to title this blog "50 Shades of Mediocre" as the subplots go nowhere and the main story line is simply about a virgin girl whose first boyfriend happens to be rich and into kinky sex. Rather than a cliffhanger, 50 Shades of Grey ended so abruptly it seemed like someone literally interrupted the story. As if the trilogy was one long book that someone ripped into thirds. It didn't hold my attention either-- I began reading the first book 2 weeks ago and stopped for the last week and a half because I lost interest.

Also, E.L. James pays homage to another sexually charged romance:  The Thomas Crown Affair remake starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. First, Anastasia finds her favorite brand of tea (yes she drinks tea... what a surprise!) at Christian's and mentions being a "foregone conclusion." It's subtle but I've seen TCA so many times that I knew exactly where that line came from. Then there's the glider scene-- it's almost an EXACT rip off of the glider scene in TCA. If you haven't seen TCA you will have no idea what I'm talking about, but I highly recommend skipping these books and going for that film.

And that brings me to the sex (which is all you really wanted to know about, be honest).  While there are quite a few explicit sex scenes, calling them pornographic is dramatic. It sounds as if there's sex on every page when in actuality there is a rather simple story with generic characters who use repeated dialog. Perhaps it's more soft core literary porn.

James also attempts to class-up the sex scenes by not using crude vocabulary like "cock" and "tits," as well as avoiding the technical genital terms of "penis" and "vagina." Instead, she refers to them as Ana's "sex" or "gender" and Christian's "length." Yet she does use the word "clitoris." Guess there isn't a pretty nickname for that one.  The humor behind the sexual relationship-- making Ana sign an NDA and writing out an explicit "Indecent Proposal" contract-- is highly amusing. Plus I enjoyed reading Ana's inner struggle with finding pleasure in (limited) pain and wondering if it's wrong. That's where her character dimension comes out.

Being written by a woman, Christian knows what he's doing in the bedroom to please a female, so I see where many women find that sexy. Honestly, men could use them as a reference on how to please their women so they don't have to turn to the likes of Christian Grey and Edward Cullen.

If what I've told you sounds appealing or at least something you can deal with, the first book is worth a read.  Borrow it if you can.  No, 50 Shades of Grey isn't great literature and E.L. James is certainly not the next J.K. Rowling or this century's Jane Austen, but these are sexy summer books to read on vacation or relaxing in your A/C filled home during the crazy heatwave. Sure, there's sex, but a little S&M never hurt anybody, right?