The Allure of Vamps

Why do we love vampires so much? I’m not gonna lie: I adore them with an undead passion. With few exceptions, these fictional masters of the night embody, literally and symbolically, the epitome of coolness: super strong, super sexy, super rich, super sophisticated, super color coordinated. But with the hand of authorly godliness, I can make anyone all those things. What is it about vampires in particular that fascinates and rivets us?
Obviously, we love the idea that these creatures live forever. I mean, not to be a bummer, but at best, we puny mortals can expect to stick around a max of 100 or so years. This is but an eyeblink in an undead’s life! To folks, especially in Western, youth-worshipping, death-denying cultures, this can seem pretty sexy. And unlike zombies or ghosts, vampires remain not only corporeal but forever young. Heck, not only are they young, but they’re beautiful. This is never more apparent when Bella becomes a vampire in the Twilight Series. She not only remains…

Elle's Proposed Book Rating System

In spite of my rather severe case of nerdiness, I have neither read nor watched Game of Thrones. Shocking, right? I refuse to do so because, before I could embark on the series, several friends told me beloved characters die in droves. Die. In. Droves.
Nope. Nopity nope nopers.
I refuse to consume media in which main characters die. I hate stories that don’t have some kind of happily-ever-after. I eschew media that allow any kind of harm to befall an animal. I also try to avoid any media, from movies to music to novels, that include any of my deal breakers: rape, harming an animal, rampant and unchallenged -isms, and really, really bad writing.
On the topics of books, you wouldn’t think it’d be difficult to find some that don’t kill main characters or end poorly, that don’t include graphic or gratuitous rape scenes and animal abuse, and that aren’t horribly racist or sexist. You’d think.
Let me give you a brief example. I just stopped reading book three of a long, enormously well-revie…

Making Peace with Our Bodies

I am an officer in my local National Organization for Women (NOW) chapter. We just pulled off a Love Your Body Celebration, which went swimmingly. Heck, I even vended my literary wares, since representing body diversity in my novels is so important to me.  

But anyway, I had the privilege of starting off the festivities and wanted to share my speech with my faithful readers. May you also find peace and comfort in your body.

Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to our first annual Love Your Body Celebration. We’re here to honor, recognize, and celebrate bodies of all ages, races, sizes, sexualities, genders, abilities, religions, and so on. All bodies are good bodies.I wanted to address the idea inherent in the name: Love Your Body. That’s not something that’s easy to do, particularly if you live in a body that we devalue and marginalize in our culture. Sometimes it’s difficult to like your body, let alone love it. I hope today offers all of us an opportunity to learn more about and per…

Body Love Word Blank

I made this for the South Dakota National Organization for Women's Love Your Body Day Celebration. Enjoy, all!

AdjectiveYearAdjective - Ends in ERNounPart of BodyColorPart of BodyAdjectiveNounAdjectiveAdjectiveNounVerb - Base FormVerb - Past TenseVerb - Base FormNounAdjective

The Emotional Toil and Toll of Office Work

“The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.”
I taped up the following quote up near my desk where I worked as a secretary. For the last five years, I had worked for the organization for two whole dollars above minimum wage and some pretty rocking benefits – at least in theory. (It’s worth noting that although friends coveted my benefits package, my meager paycheck couldn’t stretch to cover insurance deductibles, so I never visited the doctor or dentist, even when asthma had me gasping for air and a cavity slowly morphed into a dead root.)
In addition to my bureaucracy quote, I also decorated my office with various feminist paraphernalia, including goddess statues and quotes about women’s worth. A coworker even crafted a very official-looking sign for the door that read “Goddess Elle.”
In my workplace, I perched on the bottom rung of a very steep ladder. My first five years, I had slogged through payroll-related tasks and knew I made literally less than every…

Beyond Ebony and Ivory

“Ebony, ivory living in perfect harmony.”
I just finished a compelling paranormal romance by a Black American author in which she described a character as having skin so dark it seemed blue-black. Not long ago, a book I read by a White American* author described a character’s skin as so light, it almost appeared translucent.
In spite of what popular songs, literary imagery, and even our language itself tells us, skin colors don’t come in black and white. Ebony and ivory language aside, we are all shades of brown. Some, like me, have very light brown skin; I like to think of myself as a fetching shade of beige. Some, like the woman pictured to the right, have very dark brown skin; rather than “black,” we might think of her skin color as mahogany or seal.
Often in my classes, I flatten myself against the whiteboard in the front of the class and ask students if I’ve suddenly become invisible to them. Spoiler alert: I haven’t. The fact is, even pale, Western European-derived me isn’t really…

Poem: Morning Meeting

If I fits, I sits. But I don’t fit, and still I sit, In the very back, Capping the row, An oversized bookend.
One side gasps for air. The other knows my colleague. Our arms, our thighs Kiss, make love. Their mouth, their eyes Frown, promise retribution In seething blog posts Or cruel laughter Over afternoon cocktails.
My doughy bottom Rolls across hard plastic, Sighs, drips over sides. I torque twist, fold: Inward, always inward, In posture if not in fact.
My fat, knotted body An unvoiced apology For daring to exist.
Thighs that normally Clap and steam Loll, cold and dead, The only tingle The electric shocks Of restricted blood.
Tiny, hinging writing surface Unfurls – O Modern Technology! It bounces on my belly, Slanting our worldview.
I’ll take notes in my lap If I can just… reach… I’ll take notes in my head.
What happens when you Stuff a peck Of tender/tenderized poet Into a tiny, Industrial coffin? A drippy, gooey mess That flows Across and over, Coating hard plastic And hands: Folded, lumpy, Wobbling In pain.
Maybe mass-produ…