The Sexiest Month of the Year
May fires of Beltane, Drunken Astrology and Author Events, Queer Magical Realism, a new booktail inspired by Alyssa Songsiridej’s erotic novel LITTLE RABBIT, News from the Library, and more!
Welcome back to The Cauldron! (Crickle, crackle, spit and fire)
Blessed (albeit belated) Beltane, all!
Typically held on the first of May, Beltane is the sexiest sabbat in the Wheel of the Year, a celebration of life and fertility that’s marked by purifying bonfires, (the word Beltane, derived from the god Bel, means “bright fire”) May Pole dancing, courtship, flower gathering, and feasting. As summer approaches in all its fecundity, the Maiden goddess, or the May Queen, comes forth to couple with the Green Man of the wood. The renewal of life through sex is known as the Great Marriage, a ritual union practiced for centuries to garner joy and vitality.
Symbols of Beltane include the stag, cattle, the phallus (sometimes bread-shaped) and fire, of course. The feast of Beltane often features beef, goat, dairy, oats, spices, honey, and berries. For a sampling of serving ideas, check out these modern Beltane recipes.
In this lusty month of May, 2022, I suggest you exercise your bodily autonomy and capacity for joy by getting it on with yourself and/or a partner, or partners! Then donate money to Planned Parenthood!
Coming soon! The Beltane recipe deck, featuring four new Pick Your Potions original recipes, including Feast and Fire!
You’re Invited! Upcoming Events
Astro Mixer hosted by Drunken Astrology! Featuring Sonya Renee Taylor, Author of THE BODY IS NOT AN APOLOGY
Wednesday, May 11, 2022. 7pm EST.
I’ve brewed up a custom astro-potion called No Apologies for guests to imbibe during this incredible event! Join in for mixing and mingling and a radical read of author Sonya Renee Taylor’s astral chart.
Must RSVP to attend! Ingredients will be sent out in advance
THIS EVENT IS VIRTUAL
Booktails & Reading with Abigail Stewart, author of THE DROWNED WOMAN from Whiskey Tit
Wednesday, May 25, 2022. 5 pm PST/8 pm EST.
Author Abigail Stewart will read from her provocative and sexy new novel THE DROWNED WOMAN, which examines identity, bodily autonomy, and motherhood. Join in for a live demo of the novel’s signature Pick Your Potions booktail!
Must RSVP to attend! Ingredients will be sent out in advance
THIS EVENT IS VIRTUAL
Thank you so much to Rebecca Cuthbert for interviewing me about THE GOLD PERSIMMON. Read more here!
Join me in June for a Virtual Magical Realism in Contemporary Queer Fiction Workshop!
Would you like to push the boundaries of fiction in your writing by exploring magical realism? Join me for in-depth discussion and in-class writing exercises that will probe the boundaries between the real, unreal, and surreal.
The class will examine two exciting works of modern fiction whose uniquely queer perspectives expand on the concepts of magical realism and fabulism: the 2018 Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer's Residency Prize-winning short story collection MOONFLOWER, NIGHTSHADE, ALL THE HOURS OF THE DAY by JD Scott and Andrea Lawlor’s novel PAUL TAKES THE FORM OF A MORTAL GIRL, a winner of the Whiting Award and a 2018 finalist for the Lambda Literary and CLMP Firecracker Awards.
Analytical discussions of the reading will be complemented by in-class creative writing prompts that draw inspiration from these works of fiction. During the last session, each student will be invited to present one revised piece of creative writing that’s based off an in-class prompt. Authors JD Scott and Andrea Lawlor will also pay a visit to talk about their work and answer questions!
Class meets via Zoom on Thursdays in June, (starting June 9) from 6:30-8:30 pm EST Cost $160 for non-members (member discount 10%)
Sign up here!
News from the Library
Featuring news and updates on authors and their booktail-ized books!
It’s official! We’re getting a sequel to M.J. Kuhn’s AMONG THIEVES!
In the five kingdoms of Thamorr, some are born with superhuman abilities of extraordinary potential. But this blessing is nothing more than a curse: all Adepts are rounded up as children, enslaved, and sold to the highest bidder by the all-powerful leader, the Guildmaster. When a colorful band of talented thieves, smugglers, and tricksters catches wind of a plot to acquire a valuable object in the Guildmaster’s possession, this cunning crew sets out on a dangerous mission rife with hidden motives and competing plots. Among them is Riya, known on wanted posters as “The Butcher” for her beloved blades that never miss. The only one who knows the real value and potential of the artifact they seek, Riya must push herself to the limits to keep power from falling into the wrong hands. But she can’t do it alone: for this mission to succeed, the team’s confidence in one another will have to become more powerful than their secrets.
Lincoln Michel’s THE BODY SCOUT is out in paperback!
In this futuristic dystopian noir set in what is left of NYC, Kobo is a baseball scout hunting for players. Only in this world, the teams are owned by Big-Pharma and the players are so genetically altered, they’ve become veritable juice boxes of mystery chemicals. Kobo’s own brother-from-another-mother is a star of the Monsanto Mets, until he dies a bloody death at the plate on live television. Kobo’s quest to find the killer will cost him his apartment, his safety, and his body—including a cybernetic arm—but at this point, with an impending avalanche of body modification debt already threatening to crush him at any moment, what does Kobo have to lose?
And now, a very smart, sexy booktail!
Alyssa Songsiridej’s novel LITTLE RABBIT is the story of a 30-year-old queer writer whose first novel gets published just as the press folds, leaving her with a closet’s worth of dusty copies. To pay her bills, she spends her days at Harvard working as an administrative coordinator. At an artists’ retreat in Maine, she meets an older man, a celebrated choreographer who is annoying at first, talking too much over dinner, yet also gorgeously masculine and erotic–“golden,” she calls him. They quickly become lovers, the choreographer naming her his “Rabbit,” urging her to spend every weekend with him in his apartment in New York, or at his house in the Berkshires. Their relationship is electric, twisting and turning in on itself like a knot, stretching her life here, binding and tightening there. Until the narrator finds she’s become “a woman with a secret. A woman with a choice,” a person seemingly losing her definition just as she’s coming to know the dimensions of her desire for pleasure, for art, and to be unmade: “The work possessed me, seized me, until I was no longer a woman writing but writing taking the form of a woman in order to be born. I sank down, surrendered, waiting for the words to teach me about my life.”
Like a modern queer feminist STORY OF O, this nuanced exploration of desire and the unseen dance between the lover and the beloved sucks you into its lush, yet precisely-rendered reality, one edged with ambiguity regarding possession and power, perception and identity.
Scotch serves as the base of this booktail, as it's the liquor the narrator drinks during her one “wild” night in Maine, when she gets drunk and jumps in the lake, unaware her future lover is watching. On their first sort-of date, she again begins with Scotch. The night they officially become lovers, the choreographer makes, discards, then re-makes Aperol spritzes, marking the "before" and "after." Aperol also shares the bittersweet taste of a gin and tonic, which the narrator always seems to enjoy with others of her own age: in college, with the choreographer’s young dancers at his house in the Berkshires, and at the opulent after-party for the conference her roommate Annie organizes. Finally, coffee liqueur references cafecitos with friends Rita and Vera and a writing practice that involves getting up at 5 am, sometimes accompanied by a whole pot of coffee. The combination of Scotch and coffee produces a chocolate-y tone, while the smoky notes in the Scotch bring out the bittersweetness in the Aperol. Altogether, it’s a simple, beautiful combination that’s not at all what you would expect.
This booktail is presented against a fur backdrop for “the wolves”–those art critics and donors in need of ego-stroking–and the sumptuous, primal, and slightly dangerous sensuality that exists between the story’s lovers. The Tiffany’s glass in which the drink is served is nestled in the fur, gently framed with feathers for the plumage on the choreographer’s bookshelves. Delicate dried flowers and ferns appear behind the cocktail, reminders of the dried flowers on the altar by the choreographer’s door, as well as atop Annie’s dresser. One purple bloom is also pressed to the base of the glass, its color a complement to the watercolor cover of Hélène Cixous’ book DREAM I TELL YOU. In the background, a dried red petal perches on the book’s top right edge, punctuating the ‘i’ in “Rabbit.”
1.5 oz Scotch
1 oz coffee liqueur
0.5 oz Aperol
Set a tumbler in the freezer or at the back of the fridge to chill. Meanwhile, add a large cube or chunk of ice to a shaker, along with the Scotch, coffee liqueur, and Aperol. Agitate vigorously until the shaker turns frosty. Then remove the chilled glass from the fridge or freezer and add a fresh cube of ice. Strain the drink into the glass, over the fresh ice, and serve.