Since I first began contemplating writing a novel about modern love in Qatar (back in 2009) the possibility my book would not be sold in the country where it was set, researched and written lurked in the back of my mind.
It didn’t restrain me necessarily, so much as presented an artistic challenge. Could I write within the sensibilities of the public culture and still have something to say? I fancied myself an Oscar Wilde of the desert; a writer of my times producing content as part of the society I lived in. In case you’re unfamiliar with the big three objections of said public culture in the GCC they include: no sex, no atheism and no politics. Some readers may be disappointed to hear there’s none of any Love Comes Later
What there is, however, is a sustained examination of life in Qatar for modern twentysomething Qataris.
There’s a death by car accident; reluctant engagements; difficult conversations with parents; and of course, one passionate kiss.
I’ve no concrete details about which of these chain of events in particular is in violation of the censor’s interpretation of public sensibilities.
But I will keep you posted.
In the meantime, maybe you want to have a read for yourself?
Grandma was visiting so I drove to the nail salon post-haste. A month without maintenance and my regime was in a state. I sat down in the chair, regretting in my rush for freedom I forgot that beauty session fundamental: a magazine. Several outdated issues of O magazine were wilting at home. Then I remembered: I was in the middle of reviewing Close Call — A Doris & Jemma Vadgeventure. Turning on the Kindle App – I am a multi-tasker to the bone – I felt a surge of relief as I dropped back into the opening scene.
A woman, Jemma, waiting to for her own overdue beauty treatment, and her vagina, Doris, bemoaning the cult of Brazilians. Doris is the main character, often upstaging the humans along with a cast of penises and other vaginas (and their accompanying humans). Turns out the advice our lady parts have to give us may be exactly what we need to hear.This is about as far from 50 Shades of Grey as you can get; think Sex in the City, told from the perspective of Carrie and co’s friends from down under.
Speaking of which, the author, Dionne Lister, is an Australian woman of many talents (including editing) who has taken a pen name for the first in what promises to be a hilarious series.
But I’ll let her tell you more about this journey into her first pen name.
Offensive Fruit Gives Birth to Vageventures
By Dionne Lister aka Eloise March
When I first had the idea for this book, and started writing, I was sure it was going to be a bestseller — it has an original premise and it’s really funny. Also it’s aimed at women, who must make up at least 50% of the population, but no, it didn’t take off. Oh the horror. I guess people see the words “talking genitals” and “Vadgeventure” on the cover and they freak out. No, it’s not a dirty book; no, it’s not offensive. It’s a book that at it’s vaginal heart, wants women to feel good about themselves, to shrug off society’s ridiculous patriarchal construction of what a woman should be, and how she should be treated, and make decisions based on what’s best for them — not for the sex-mad asshole at the club or the misogynistic co-worker at the office.
If you’ve ever twerked, or looked at yourself in the mirror and said “I hate my body,” decided to have sex with a guy because, even though you knew he was lying when he said he loved you, you desperately hoped he did. Stop accepting the scraps, ladies! Believe in yourselves and start listening to your vaginas. Your vagina doesn’t have any agenda, except that she wants you to be happy and live the life that you deserve.
This book was inspired by an offensive-looking piece of fruit on Facebook, I kid you not, but has turned into something I feel is not only entertaining, funny and heart-warming, but has a message that every woman should hear and take on board: women are awesome and we need to lift each other up, not tear each other down in our fight to be treated equally and with respect. So, ladies, stop ignoring your vaginas because I just know the first thing they’d tell you is to go and read Close Call ;).
I am excited today to have Doris on the blog with a spot of advice, to show you just what all the fuss is about and just who Doris is. Don’t be afraid, she doesn’t bite and it has been proven beyond scientific fact she has no teeth, but her wit is sharp and she does tend to rip into you if you stray away from being true to yourself.
With Valentine’s Day behind us and the lonely hearts club back to drinking wine from a box or perhaps, hitting the clubs again, there are still a lot of gals trying to figure out a way to keep their dignity intact and still find a man who excites them and will make them happy throughout their lives…or at least have a serious and stable relationship with! Maybe even those whose glitterific relationship has lost some of it’s shine needs a bit of a boost!
Are you game? We also will be having a live interview with the Cabin Goddess, Kriss (she is also one of the head Fairies here), and a central Facebook event page where you can post questions for Doris throughout the tour, get updates and links during the tour and ask more info on the novella! Everyone in the know has been itching to see this book get everywhere and in have people join them in reading it and laughing just as hard as they did! You won’t even need cream afterwards.. perhaps a glass of wine and a new boyfriend, but not any cream!
Close Call: A Doris & Jemma Vadgeventure
Close Call is the first instalment of “A Doris & Jemma Vageventure” series.
Think Bridget Jones Diary and The Vagina Monologues.
Twenty-two-year-old Jemma can’t seem to get her life in order. Her track record with men stinks, she constantly worries about getting fat and ending up a spinster at thirty. And to top it off, she has to be a bridesmaid at her most-hated cousin’s wedding. She feels like her life is over, until Doris decides to help out. Who’s Doris? Doris is Jemma’s vagina and she thinks more of Jemma than her own brain does. Doris is on a mission to save Jemma from herself, but is the task too much for one vagina to handle?
TAGS: Fiction, Chick Lit, Humor, Women’s Lit, Romance
© 2013 Dionne Lister Cover by Sol Pandiella-McLeod
Meet Eloise March aka Dionne Lister
Eloise March is a woman who laughs at her own jokes, swears way too much and breaks any new diet by lunchtime on the day she starts. She believes in women’s equality, and all equality for that matter, and hopes the things she writes touch people in a positive way, and make them think about how they can create a better society for themselves and others.
In her spare time, she enjoys living as her alter ego, Dionne Lister — a suspense and YA fantasy author who is way too embarrassed to talk about vaginas. She likes spending time as Dionne because Dionne has an awesome family, wonderful friends and a cat called Lily, oh, and she has great hair.
If you’re looking for Eloise, or any information about future books in the Doris & Jemma Vadgeventure series, you can visit Dionne’s website, where Eloise has been lucky enough to get her own page http://www.dionnelisterwriter.com. If you’re looking for a chat, you can find Ms. March on Twitter.
Follow the Tour
Monday – 3/3/2014:
Tuesday – 3/4/2014
- Literary Chanteuse – Ask Doris – Dating Advice
- Photography, Poetry and Indie Authors – Ask Doris & Review
Wednesday – 3/5/2014
Thursday – 3/6/2014
Friday – 3/7/2014
Saturday – 3/8/2014
Monday – 3/10/2014
- J E Haldeman – Ask Doris – Dating Advice
Tuesday – 3/11/2014
Wednesday – 3/12/2014
- Our New Generation for Reading – 3/12/2014
Thursday – 3/13/2014
Final Day of the Tour – Saturday March 14th
Interview with The Cabin Goddess
Follow along on FACEBOOK
Ash Wednesday is the moment in the church liturgical calendar when we pause as a community to remember Jesus’ temptation by the devil. Taken into the desert and offered all that the human heart could desire, Jesus said no. He prayed, he fasted, he suffered.
Not the stuff of headlines in today’s glitzy, glamorous society, particularly on the heels of the Oscars.
The day begins the season of Lent: 40 days of contemplation of this self-sacrifice in preparation for Easter. In this period many give up something as a way to experience the spirit of the season. Your craving for it is a reminder of the ways we can discipline ourselves (the anticipation of Lent is what created Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras).
More modern interpretations include beginning a new, positive habit during Lent as a spiritual practice. In 2008 I tried a mashup and focused on eliminating a bad habit: anger.
Ashes symbolize many things: the dust humans are made from, the dust we will return to. They’re often used to mark the forehead of those who attend this special service as a visual reminder of the impermanence of life.
Whether or not you are a Christian or belong to a denominate that observes Lent, this season, think about joining in either by abstaining or beginning anew.
For me, I will try the impossible: put something above my love of the carbonated beverage that is Coke. Even writing that sentence has me missing the feel of bubbles on my tongue.
But if it weren’t precious, would it be a sacrifice?
Regardless of whether or you watch the Oscars, you likely watch a movie every now and then.
What Cate Blanchett said in her acceptance speech has been picked up by news outlets around the world.
You could see it as two time winner chastising a male dominated industry: “who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences.”
Or a call to the rest of us to prove that “Audiences want to see them [female centric films] and in fact, they earn money.”
Cate reminds us that how we spend our money is perhaps as important as where we spend our time.
What industry would you like to see grow? Spend your time, talent and treasure there.
A great idea I discovered this week: men of various ages and races, in communities around the world, gathering together to “walk a mile in her shoes.” These men are walking to raise awareness (and money) to fight domestic violence as well as sexual assault against women. I love this idea because violence against women affects men AND women. Once we mobilize the good guys, as well as gals, we’re using both sides of the equation.
Have you heard of a good idea recently?
The first time my son asked me if I was a princess, I was sitting on the stool in front of my dressing table, putting on makeup. Having grown up in the school of hard knocks, I didn’t hide anything from him.
“No,” I said. “I’m not.”
His wide eyes registered his surprise. Ever since the summer, when he graduated from the world of cuddly animals – think Happy Feet – into movies with people, life had become infinitely interesting.
We said nothing further about the subject of princesses.
A few days later, he asked me again. I was better prepared.
“Mommy are you a princess?”
“Yes,” I said. “In fact all women are princesses.”
He nodded as if this made perfect sense. Maybe because in the Disney universe, all the main characters are royalty (or marry into being royal).
When I found out I was having boys, at first I despaired. My world was very female centric and I wasn’t sure how to approach having the first male grandchildren. Now I see motherhood of little men for the opportunity it is: a chance to frame the world in a way that empowers them to treat women as equals, deserving of respect, regardless of the titles they may hold.
I’ve been tossing around the idea of a themed Monday post. Mindfulness is something I’ve been practicing since my second pregnancy; many nights staring at the ceiling at 3 a.m. pushed me into meditation which is closely related. Essentially the two together ask us to focus; bring 100% of our attention into the moment. The scratchy sheet, the clicking of the clock. Surprisingly these tiny sounds make it easier to forget about the laundry, grading, or editing and usher in deep, relaxing sleep.
Here’s my first Monday Mindfulness post. Share your ideas for how to take a break from our continuous inattention.
I have a long overdue to-do list because of a weekend spent, well, weekending with family, friends, and children. Instead of multitasking, I was at the playground. Skipping late nights at the kitchen table, I went to sleep along with everyone else.
And while I was rushing around this morning, after a morning workout (check), the younger one, 10 months old was at the edge of my vision. He was rolling around in his walker, standing on the tips of his toes, gurgling at me with his energy.
I rushed into the kitchen for juice and a snack.
When I came out, he was dashing like a ping-pong ball around the living room, he was a caged specimen of enthusiasm, blocked from the clothes drying on the rack, barricaded from the wires on the television speakers.
We made eye contact; and he smiled. The connection was like a sizzle. I still had 1000 things to do; most of them overdue, many of them related to the release of my next book, furthering my academic career, applications for older brother’s school. But in that moment, since older brother was at nursery, I popped out some toys the younger one rarely gets to touch when Mr. 3 year old is around.
Foam shapes, a fabric tunnel, cushions squares for the floor. The little guy went wild. Dolphin like sounds of delight emanated as he crawled on through, rolling the tunnel this way and that. I watched him for a minute and took a mental picture of his joy. This, I thought to myself, this is happiness. This is what I will remember the next time I start to wonder what any of this is for.
Do you ever wonder what moments will flash before your eyes in the last seconds of your life? If, like in the movies, we get a lightening quick film strip of our lives, I hope mine is full of instants like these. For so a life is made, shared and remembered. Not from a to-do list.
That’s my Monday Mindfulness; you don’t have to take an entire afternoon to make memories. Make them in the flashes in between a workout and computer time.
How do you stay mindful?
Difficult Fruit is about a young woman making her way in the world, and making the world as she makes her way.
What’s a random fact about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I have a black belt in TaeKwonDo. It’s getting rusty, because I moved to a new town and couldn’t quite find the right fit in terms of training, but I still play with my nunchucks in the basement every once in a while!
What’s your current guilty pleasure?
Bones. The TV series. It’s ridiculous—I know there’s no way that many bodies are turning up in the Metro DC area (at least, I hope not!)—but I love the premise: The body holds a narrative that the right reader(s) can interpret. And interpreting that story correctly tilts the scales in favor of justice and good. Who can resist that?!
What do you love about writing?
For me, writing is a movement towards clarity of vision. When I’m writing, I am looking hard at myself, at nature, at the cultures I live in, at the stories I’m told, at the things I believe, etc., etc. If I look long and hard enough, I discover my blank spaces—what I’m asked not to see, what I don’t let myself see, what I’ve suppressed or rejected. So it becomes a practice of revelation: In looking through my work at the world around me, I come to know something more of myself, am clearer in my vision of who I am and how I (can) choose to move in the world. And I love that.
What’s the hardest part of writing a book?
As a poet, the writing of poems is what I do, and that has its own challenges, but assembling a book from an assortment of poems that have been discretely written—that took a lot of time and arrangement. I remember a poet/teacher telling me that he made his students rearrange the poetry collections they were reading in at least two other alternatives, to highlight the fact that how one orders the poems really alters what the poems ultimately say as a collection. With this book, I struggled with that quite a bit, particularly as over time one loses the ability to see the poems and their relationship to each other clearly. My editor was the one, in the end who suggested the final order, which I recognized as right…
Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration, I believe, is everywhere. I am inspired by life events, the natural world, national and world events. If one is alive, there’s no shortage of inspiration. There’s so much even just inside one’s own body—I mean bodies are crazy! They are literally miracles! I guess, to me inspiration happens if one is willing to pay attention, and to be amazed.
Your favorite books and authors?
I love so many, it’s hard to choose favorites, but I will give you the first five that bubble to the surface, how’s that? Jeanette Winterson is a marvel, and I find her daring and ambition as a writer formidable and inspiring! I love Frances Driscoll’s collection, The Rape Poems, which is heartbreaking and brave. Jamaica Kincaid’s writing is fierce and piercing, and I love it. Li Young Lee’s The City In Which I Love You is a lyric masterpiece. Lucille Clifton’s gems are a light in this world.
Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?
I don’t tweet. But I am on Facebook. I have an author page.
Have you ever Googled yourself?
I sure have, and let me tell you, it’s worth doing. It’s how I discovered that there was a Lauren Alleyne who was convicted of murdering a homeless woman in Boston, so I started using my middle initial. It’s also how I discovered that an old boss of mine had sent a horrid rejection letter in my name, and that the recipient of that letter had written a very popular article about the poor treatment of young scholars by the publishing industry, and cited “Lauren Alleyne of X Press” as one of the biggest offenders. Google also helped me find him and set the record straight (Lauren Alleyne was in fact a 20-yr-old intern who fetched coffee and schlepped mail to the post office, not a power-mad editor bent on crushing the dreams of young scholars). The thing is that the internet is the go-to for information, and like it or not, we all have digital identities. I always want to know who thinks I am, and what I’m up to!
Are you working on any other projects except writing, right now?
Well, the biggest project I have going right now began with writing, but has grown beyond that, and is still growing. It began with my best friend and fellow writer, Catherine Chung and I writing back and forth in the persona of Gretel (of Hansel and Gretel). And what we realized we were doing was using this character that we were both kind of obsessed with, as a lens to see the world. Once we figured that out, we began to be a bit more intentional about it, and Gretel has some interesting stories to tell about her life, as well as ours. And so, The Gretel Project was born! We’re working with composer Sidney Boquiren, sculptor and performance artist Natalie Wetzel, and filmmaker Tomiko Jones to create what we’re calling ‘a multi-media experience’. We’re in the early stages yet—our first “draft” is scheduled for Spring 2015. I’ve never done anything like it before, and I’m excited about it: it’s going to be a blast!
My single friends look at me with longing; they think as a mother of two, husband in residence, that my greatest life questions are resolved.
“Gal-pal” is such a casual label for these women whose worth is above gold. We have conversations I can only dream of with my friends who are also mothers. Unfettered by constraints of feeding, nap, or bedtime schedules, we can meet whenever work or sleep allows.
They sigh and bemoan their lonely futures; I urge them to pursue their passions rather than a man. They contest my advice as invalid, offered from the safety of the ivory tower of matrimony.
“Pour that urge to nurture into a new hobby!” I cheer.
“Easy for you to say,” she grumbles. “You’re settled.”
“I’m going through the same struggles as you,” I protest. “In different ways.”
My dear friend would like to meet her life partner and have a baby. Yet, hours of conversations show that her thirst for intimacy is no different from mine — for female in friendships; I’d love to have more friends who were reliable and didn’t cancel at the last minute or move away after three years.
Often the heartbreak of ending a romantic relationship can feel like it will drag you under.
But again, from my parallel universe, in the week leading up to that most commercial of holidays, second perhaps only to Christmas, Valentine’s, I am reminded that many people can hurt us, not only our intimate partners.
People disappoint us. Often treat us other than we deserve.
But as with boyfriends or husbands, once I recovered from the shock, I steeled my resolve: if they think they can do better – then they should try.
After all, as I’m reminding myself, so can I.
Moral of the story? Don’t put up with sh#t from anyone. Not a lover or a friend or an employer.
After all, you’re worth more than they think — though they’ll never know unless you show them. How you let other people treat you says more than the words you use. This Valentine’s Day, remember: true love, begins at home.