21 Photos - Jan 5, 2014
Photo: Didn’t you hear? Reading a good book boosts brain activity, even days after you finish the book. Reading a good book literally makes your brain better. Makes your brain feel like it’s stepping into the shoes of the characters you read. As an erotica writer, I find this bit of science sexy as hell!

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/01/reading-its-new-sexy.htmlPhoto: Didn’t you hear? Reading a good book boosts brain activity, even days after you finish the book. Reading a good book literally makes your brain better. Makes your brain feel like it’s stepping into the shoes of the characters you read. As an erotica writer, I find this bit of science sexy as hell!

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/01/reading-its-new-sexy.htmlPhoto: Reading Francesca Lia Block's stories is like seeing fairytales and myths exist in our world. She injects unusual beauty and quirky magic into everything, transforming the mundane into something amazing. By highlighting and exaggerating the wonder of the world, she allows her readers to approach their own world, one they feel comfortable and sure of, in a new way. 

READ MORE HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/01/making-settled-strange.htmlPhoto: Chuck Palahnuik grounds his stories in the grittiest oddities he can find. He forces you to face the strangest the world has to offer, making any strange and out-there idea he could think of seem completely believable in the face all the strange that already exists in the world.

READ MORE HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/01/making-settled-strange.htmlPhoto: While he rides the line between these two types of storytellers, I think Neil Gaiman belongs more to this group than the other. While many of his stories begin in our reality, they tend to take cliff-dives off into marvelous worlds completely unlike ours. Whether it's graveyards filled with ghosts or the gap between worlds throughout London or the background of the universe where only gods may play, Gaiman’s stories may share space with our reality but they are definitely not our world. They exists with their own sets of rules and norms that are at once strange and yet make perfect sense. With a whimsical sense of humor, that balances an oft disturbing darkness, he makes you think, no matter how strange his world is, your own may be just as arbitrary and odd. Perhaps more so.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-alchemy-of-authors.htmlPhoto: J.K. Rowling did this too in her Harry Potter series; essentially taking the most ordinary of us and thrusting him into a world of magic. Say whatever you want about the popular children's series, but you simply cannot fault the world Rowling built. From paintings that move to letters that talk, from Quidditch to Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, everything in her wizarding world is fascinating and wonderful to look at. She created a place that entire generations of readers never wanted to leave. Still don't.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-alchemy-of-authors.htmlPhoto: But, of all the worlds I've been to traveling through the pages of a book, Phillip Pullman's *Golden Compass* series, His Dark Materials, pulled me in the deepest, I think. My friend had turned me onto the series, lending me the full-cast audiobook recording. After the first few chapters, I bought a paperback copy as well, not wanting to miss a single word. By the end of the book, without giving away any spoilers, I must say, *The Amber Spyglass* left me earbuds plugged in, book pulled up to my face, and eyes uninhibitedly crying on a public city bus on my way home from work, not even caring who was watching because, at the time, Pullman’s world, full of soul-touching magic and multi-dimensional intrigue, felt more real and more impactful than my own. It is the highest compliment I can pay an author and one I hope to one day live up to as well.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-alchemy-of-authors.htmlPhoto: Short stories often get the short end of the stick when it comes to storytelling. Too often, they’re dismissed as things better left to English classes and people with short attention spans. They’re seen as stories too small to be novels.

But there is magic in this form. These small, contained stories hold within them every element of a novel in a much more condensed, much more refined form. A writing teacher of mine had told me that it takes discipline and a keen eye to write a really good short story. To know exactly what needs to be there and what needs to be heartlessly cut. To leave only that which serves the story and ruthlessly remove everything else.

In many ways, being able to write a really good short story makes one much more equipped to write a really good novel...

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/03/small-great-packages.htmlPhoto: Short stories get to do more often than novels is present voices not often heard in mainstream literature. Take, for instance, the erotica genre. Mainstream, popular erotica follows many of mainstream popular romance rules. And, I’ll admit, I don’t particularly see anything wrong with that. My own work follows those rules pretty consistently too. But a lot of the erotic short stories out there are freer to deviate from that norm. Where soulmates and happily-ever-after take a backseat to happily-right-after or pretty-fucking-happy-in-the-moment...

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/03/small-great-packages.htmlPhoto: Take Kyra Davis’s Sophie Katz series, they’re a little ridiculous and definitely unrealistic, but they’re sassy and exciting and tend to take you to strange places, from sex trade shows to furry conventions, from haunted houses to mafia mansions. Her stories twist and wind through clues, navigated by a kickass protagonist who manages to be both intelligent and flawed, charming and a bit of a smartass. These novels are snarky and funny to balance out the bloody murder, violent mayhem, and eyebrow-raising scandal that tie the plots together. Studied too closely, sure, the stories fall apart—one could easily nitpick the legalities and realities of these novels to pieces. But, when taken and enjoyed for what they are, they’re an entirely entertaining mini-escape.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/04/tell-me-how-it-ends.htmlPhoto: But, no matter how ridiculous Sophie’s stories seem, they never quite reach the brilliant absurdism of Jasper Fforde’s Nursery Crimes novels. Set in a world where every character from your childhood—from Mother Goose to Grimm, from Aesop to Ancient Greek—live together, this series tells the case stories of Detective Jack Spratt. You follow him through this whodunit world that seems both deeply familiar and completely unique as he tries to discover who murdered Humpty Dumpty or to go on a manhunt for the Gingerbread Man. It plays on the knowledge that you, as the reader, know what’s going to happen—you’ve read the stories and know the rhymes—and turns them on their heads. 

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/04/tell-me-how-it-ends.htmlPhoto: I am Sher-Locked. There’s something about a hyper-intelligent person with that kind of driven passion that clutches the nerd-girl in me by the heart strings. No matter what the version, these modern takes on this legendary detective absolutely capture me. You just can’t help but marvel as you Watson along the trail of the crime, feeling a tiny touch closer to greatness. He is proof that various styles and forms may come in and out of favor, but brains are always in fashion.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/04/tell-me-how-it-ends.htmlPhoto: Lori Foster’s stories are fun and flirty and hit you right in all your achingly sweet, mushy spots. Reading one of her books really does feel like going back in time—to, like, junior high—back when love seemed so easy and when every obstacle in your way was some defeatable outside force that only served to bring you closer together in the end. Back to a time when True Love really was all you needed and could complete and fix the empty, broken bits of you. That, if you just had that—found your soulmate and earned their love—your entire life, your entire world, would just be complete and everything good in life would aline itself perfectly. It’s an image of love that can’t exist in the real-world. That you’re not even really sure you’d want to exist in the real-world—after all, I’m not perfect and I don’t think I’d know what to do with a love interest who was, except feel really inadequate all the time. But, within the time and space of her books, yeah, it’s fun to think that a love like that is possible. I may not want to live there, but it’s a nice world to visit from time to time.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/04/sometimes-you-just-need-it.htmlPhoto: Another one of my go-to emotional porns is Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I know, I know, it’s so cliché. The mouthy, non-conforming woman wins the love of the tall, dark, and broody rich guy. I know, I know. But, honestly, the banter between these two iconic characters is right up there with Shakespeare’s Beatrice and Benedict. As predictable as they are, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy feed that deep down desire that every non-normative girl has, telling us that no matter how out-of-place you feel there’s someone out there for you. Someone there to match and love all the parts of you no one else gets. That someone out there sees—truly sees and loves—what the rest of the world ignores. That someone out there will love you, not just despite all your flaws and faults, but because of them.

What I love most about these two is how many versions of them have grown out of pure fanlove. From the BBC mini-series to the Seth Grahame-Smith zombie-hunting twist, these two have lived and loved a million times over, keeping their timeless story alive and relevant with each new in-coming generation. 

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/04/sometimes-you-just-need-it.htmlPhoto: Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones version of Pride and Prejudice has a special place in my heart. It was such an interestingly modern take on the story. I was still a senior in high school when the book was turned into a movie and I remember relating so much to Bridget’s insecurities and uncertainties. After seeing the first movie, I rushed out and bought the books because I loved her so much. I remember watching her fall into horrible situations—romantically, professionally, personally—and watching her pull herself out of them. She was just a constant reminder that, even if you’re today’s punchline, tomorrow’s another day. And, particularly after the sequel, I remember falling in love with the idea that even great relationships aren’t perfect. They have problems and pitfalls and even the people you love and who love you screw up. But, if that person matters and if they matter to you, love finds a way. Her story was a promise that, even if you aren’t perfect, there’s someone perfect out there for you.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/04/sometimes-you-just-need-it.htmlPhoto: The film Penelope is a modern fairytale about a girl who, because of a curse on her family, was born with a pig’s nose. Cleverly written and well-acted, the film makes a thoroughly entertaining statement on money, romance, and beauty and how too often we let superficial aspects and other people’s expectations dictate our lives and our view of our own worth. What I love most about it is that it takes the beauty-and-the-beast story trope and turns it on its head. We’ve heard story after story about women who learn to love men who fall outside society’s idea of ideal. Of how they can see past appearances and reveal these men’s inner worth. Penelope gives us an absolutely stunning example of how the reverse can be just as true, while also teaching us that love—all kinds of love—start from being able to love and accept one’s self first.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/06/not-embarrassed-at-all.htmlPhoto: Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak deals with a girl who feels outside society. Her writing captures that moment in time so well, it was like jumping into a time machine. Melinda’s voice—the sarcasm and naïve jadedness—felt so much like my own voice at that age. It transports and traps you in a time where so much of your life doesn’t feel like your own, when your actions and decisions feel dictated by everyone but yourself. By parents. By teachers. Even by your own peers. It’s a powerful story that pulls you back in time and through the wringer as it explores how hard it can be to stand up for yourself and make yourself heard.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/06/not-embarrassed-at-all.htmlPhoto: Completely quotable and magnificently presented, Neil Gaiman’s Mirrormask features the familiar trope of teenage rebellion through a magical modern fairytale-take. The thing that stands out most for me is that, unlike many YA stories, this film presents both the teenage and the adult perspectives fairly. You get to see both the virtues and the flaws in both sides. And, before the story ends, both sides must bend to find a balance between the two.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/06/not-embarrassed-at-all.htmlPhoto: I grew up loving Wonder Woman comics and the Xena show but, if we’re talking first loves, Buffy holds—and always will hold—my heart. She taught an entire generation that “Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?” Whedon himself said that the show was always about “[subverting] that idea, that image, and [creating] someone who was a hero where she had always been a victim […] The helpless blonde girl […] who, at the end of this scene, turns out to be something a little more than we expected.”

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/07/heroes-of-my-heart.htmlPhoto: Karen Marie Moning’s MacKayla Lane is another of my favorite heroines. Personally, I love Moning’s romantic and sweet Highlander series as well, possibly more than her darker, sexier, more adventure-based Fever series that features Mac. But the sharp departure of the second series that still exists within and incorporates the first seamlessly marvels my writer’s mind. And the literary journey from Adrienne in Moning’s very first book, who’s spunky and brave but still plays a more damsel-in-distress type role, to her ass-kicking, world-saving MacKayla wonderfully shows how adversity and the demand of hardship can change people. How, if we have to, we—any of us, all of us—can rise to be the heroes and shapers of our own destinies. That no matter where we come from, or who we start our journeys as, we can change the world.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/07/heroes-of-my-heart.htmlPhoto: Lastly, my current favorite love has to be Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series. I love that this series, while very action-packed, does a great job of showing that power doesn’t just belong to the strongest. Mercy, within her pack and within her world, is often the smallest and weakest, but her power lies in her quick-wits, her ability to use her limitations to her advantage, and her ability to gain the loyalty of the people around her. It’s a reminder that often the people we dismiss as powerless, as useless—even and especially when it’s ourselves—can wind up being the people we must depend on.

READ THE REST HERE: http://sonnidesoto.blogspot.com/2014/07/heroes-of-my-heart.html