The Audiobook of “Bending” Is Now Available — Recorded By Me!

Bending coverThe audiobook version of my erotic fiction collection, Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More, is now available on Audible! It’s $19.95 for Audible non-members, less for Audible members, free with a 30-day Audible trial membership.

And yes — I did the audiobook recording myself! Come on… you know you want to hear me reading these stories out loud….

For those who somehow missed hearing about this book:

These are not nice stories.

They’re filthy. They’re fearless. Some are even funny.

Greta Christina’s erotic stories are written to get you hard and wet — and to change the ways you think about sex. Be forewarned — stuff happens here that’s borderline consensual. Or not at all consensual. These are dirty, kinky stories about shame, about pain, helplessness and danger, reckless behavior and bad, bad ideas….

A baby dyke is manipulated into fetish porn by her beautiful, self-absorbed porn-star lover.

A good Christian wife follows her duty to obey, even as her husband’s sexual demands become bizarre.

A student, hungry for punishment, seeks it from a professor who should know better.

A woman with a dedicated fetish finds a lover who meets her more than halfway.

And then there’s the one about the unicorn and the rainbow…

Raw, exciting, joyful, intensely believable, Greta’s stories are written with a fierce respect for erotic fiction — and for sex itself.

Once again: Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More, is now available in audiobook format on Audible! Once again… read by me!

The book is also available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. A paperback edition is coming soon. Here are some wonderfully flattering blurbs about it: [Read more...]

Announcing the Atheist Baseball Team, the Mr. Paul Aints!

No, really.

Okay, it’s just for one day. But it’s still pretty cool.

Minnesota AtheistsHere’s the deal. There’s an atheist conference coming up soon in Minneapolis, on Saturday August 10: the Minnesota Atheists/American Atheists Regional Conference. It’s going to be a mega-spiffy event: I’m speaking there, along with PZ Myers, Hector Avalos, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Amanda Knief, Greg Laden, Stephanie Zvan, Rohit Ravindran, Kim Socha, Jill Carlson, James Zimmerman, Eric Jayne, Cliff Buhl, and Susan Campion. And if you register by July 31, you get the early-bird discount!

But the ultra-mega-spiffy part: The evening before the conference, Friday August 9, the minor league baseball team The St. Paul Saints is changing their name for the day to the Mr. Paul Aints. In honor of the atheist conference. Seriously.

A special group rate for the game is available for conference attendees. For $21 you can get seated in the Infield Reserved section (or Infidel Reserve), plus you get a limited edition Mr. Paul or Ms. Paula Aints hat (a ($29 value). Or for $10, you Outfield General Admission, plus a hot dog and a soda (an $11 value). And yes, you can come to the ballgame even if you can’t come to the conference. Info on getting tickets is at the conference website.

I’m going to be there. I even have my Mr. Paul Aints T-shirt…

Greta in Mr Paul Aints tshirt

and my Ms. Paula Aints T-shirt…

Greta in Ms Paula Aints tshirt

and my Ms. Paula Aints hat!

Greta in Ms Paula Aints hat

(It’s scary how much I look like my brother when I wear a baseball hat. And yes, I did a horizontal flip on the mirror selfies so the lettering on the T-shirts wouldn’t come out backward. And yes, you can get a T-shirt or a hat, even if you can’t come to the event: the Minnesota Atheists website has them in their store.)

Here’s the details. If you come to the baseball game, maybe you’ll get to hear me sing my demented, one-syllable-off version of “Take Me Out To the Ball Game.” Hope to see you there!

CITY: Minneapolis, MN (Minnesota Atheists/American Atheists Regional Conference)
DATE: Saturday, August 10
TIME: All-day conference
LOCATION: Ramada Plaza, 1330 Industrial Blvd NE, Minneapolis, MN
EVENT/HOSTS: Minnesota Atheists/American Atheists Regional Conference
TOPIC: Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
OTHER SPEAKERS: PZ Myers, Hector Avalos, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Amanda Knief, Greg Laden, Stephanie Zvan, Rohit Ravindran, Kim Socha, Jill Carlson, James Zimmerman, Eric Jayne, Cliff Buhl, and Susan Campion.
COST: $10.00 – $60.00 if you register by July 31; $10.00 – $75.00 after July 31
EXTRA EVENT: The evening before the conference, the minor league baseball team The St. Paul Saints will change their name for the day to the Mr. Paul Aints, in honor of the atheist conference. Seriously. A special group rate is available for the game for conference attendees.
EVENT URL: http://mnatheists.org/

Where, Indeed? My Response to Katie Engelhart’s “Where Are The Women Of New Atheism?” Piece in Salon

salon-logoI was going to sit this one out, since other people have already said most of what I was going to say on the subject. (Soraya Chemaly especially hit it out of the park, IMO.) But I’ve been asked to make a comment on Katie Engelhart’s widely-discussed “Where Are The Women Of New Atheism?” piece in Salon: I was just going to give a quick quote, but it turned into a blog post, so here it is.

My main problem with Engelhart’s article is that it conflates several different questions… and proceeds to respond as if they all had the same answer. Why do proportionately fewer women self-identify as non-believers? Why do women who do self-identify as non-believers participate in the atheist community at proportionately lower rates? Why are there proportionately fewer women in positions of leadership and visibility in the atheist community? Why is there so little media attention given to the women who are in the atheist community, and who are in positions of leadership and visibility?

These are not the same questions. They have different answers — answers that are related and connected, but not the same. Some of them have to do with issues of sexism within the atheist community… and some have to do with issues of sexism in society in general… and some have to do with the intersection between the two. (IMO, Soraya Chemaly’s response in Salon did a bang-up job of addressing them.)

I mean, come on. You’re asking why the mainstream media doesn’t pay attention to female leaders in the atheist movement… and the answer, “because the mainstream media is totally fucking sexist, with a well-documented history of ignoring women in any situation” isn’t even on the table?

There are lots of prominent female atheists. Lots and lots and lots. In no particular order: Teresa MacBain, Jessica Ahlquist, Jamila Bey, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasreen, Amanda Knief, Amanda Metskas, Amanda Marcotte, Lyz Liddell, Susan Jacoby, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Rebecca Goldstein, Rebecca Watson, Rebecca Hensler, Rebecca Hale, Debbie Goddard, Katherine Stewart, Ophelia Benson, Julia Galef, Lauren Anderson Youngblood, Lauren Lane, Lauren Becker, Ayanna Watson, Mandisa Lateefah Thomas, Maggie Ardiente, Jennifer Bardi, Valerie Tarico, Libby Anne, Beth Presswood, Jen Peeples, Tracie Harris, Lindsay Beyerstein, Sarah Moglia, Ania Bula, Kim Rippere, Jennifer McCreight, Ashley F. Miller, Sikivu Hutchinson, Zinnia Jones, Miri Mogilevsky, Kate Donovan, Charone Paget, Heina Dadabhoy, Stephanie Zvan, Dana Hunter, Brianne Bilyeu, Chris Rodda, Yemisi Ilesanmi, Kylie Sturgess, Nicome Taylor, Desiree Schell, Melody Hensley, Vyckie Garrison, Soraya Chemaly, Bridget Gaudette, Cara Santa Maria, Ashley Paramore, A.J. Johnson, Jennifer Micheal Hecht, Wafa Sultan, Sylvia Broeckx, Indra Zuno, Amy Davis Roth, Shelley Segal, Naima Washington, Carrie Poppy, Harriet Thugman, Cristina Rad, Laci Green, Mina Ahadi, Naima Cabelle, Margaret Downey, me, loads more than I’m leaving out because there just isn’t room or time. The fact that Katie Engelhart doesn’t seem to know about us, or that the mainstream media isn’t reporting on us, doesn’t mean we’re not here, or that we’re not a significant part of this movement.

Do we need more? Hell, yes. Do we need to deal with the sexism and misogyny in our movement? Hell, yes. Many of us are already working on this, have been working on it for some time — and we’ve gotten results. (Atheist conferences with all- or mostly-male speaker lineups used to be common: now they’re a rarity. And female attendance at atheist conferences has gone up significantly.) But if Salon wants to address the issue of why female atheists aren’t getting enough attention outside the atheist community, maybe they could start by not illustrating an article on women atheists with pictures of Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens.

Trying to Apply an Insight About Depression

So I’m going through a mild depressive stretch right now, for the last couple of weeks, and I had this insight about my depression, and I wanted to share with the rest of the class and see if it resonated with anyone else. I think it’s a useful insight, but I’m having some trouble applying it, and I’d love some feedback from other depressives, or other people who are familiar with depression, on how to translate it into action.

The conundrum, which I think almost everyone with depression will recognize: The very things I need to do to alleviate my depression — exercise, getting outside, socializing, taking care of business and battling entropy, even just getting showered and dressed — are things that the depression makes more difficult to do. Depression, among other things, saps motivation, and makes it difficult to do… well, anything. When I’m having a depressive episode, no activity feels good; everything I do makes me feel restless and twitchy and uncomfortable and like I’d rather be doing something else. When I’m active, I get tired and want to sit down; when I’m sitting down, I feel restless. When I’m with other people, I feel overwhelmed and like I want to be alone; when I’m alone, I feel isolated.

The insight: Since nothing I do feels good anyway, I might as well do the things that have a chance of snapping me out of the depressive episode, and of making me feel better in the long run (and indeed in the medium run).

When I’m in the middle of a depressive episode, being active and inactive, social and solitary, outside and inside, all kind of suck. So I might as well be active, be social, go outside. It’s not like being inactive and solitary and indoors are actually going to alleviate that twitchy, uncomfortable, restless-but-exhausted, “something isn’t right” feeling. They’re not. When I’m in the middle of a depressive episode, I carry that feeling with me wherever I go. And being active, being social, going outside, are all things that might actually drive the feeling away, or dial it down.

A very perceptive insight. But it’s still not getting me off the sofa. Thoughts on how to translate the insight into action?

Secular Meditation: Flexible Discipline, Or, On Creating a Regular Practice in an Irregular Life

So I’m working on creating a regular meditation routine. I’m running into an interesting conundrum with it. And the conundrum, like so many I run into with meditation, is bringing me some compelling insights into how I live my life… in this case, into what it means to have discipline, and what stability and security might mean in a constantly changing life.

At the end of my eight-week meditation course, the teacher emphasized the importance of creating a regular routine with it. He said that if we wanted to keep up the practice and not let it fall through the cracks of a busy life, it was important to create a routine: pick a particular form of meditation that works for us (a sitting/ breath meditation, a body scan, a walking meditation, a yoga or other body-motion meditation, etc.), and do it at the same time every day. He didn’t use the word “discipline” — his language is generally more gentle than that — but the word would certainly be appropriate.

I can see the value of this. I’m not arguing with it. But here’s the problem: My life just doesn’t look like that.

dali clockSome days I stay up writing until four a.m. and sleep until noon. Some days I get up at five a.m. to get on a plane. Some days I get up at seven a.m. to make it to the conference by nine, and I’m at the conference all day, and I get back to my hotel room, exhilarated but exhausted, at nine p.m. or later. Some days I have a meeting or an interview or a conference call at nine in the morning, or at noon, or at three in the afternoon, or at seven at night, or any combination of the above. Some weeks I have three deadlines; some weeks I’m in a different city every day; some weeks I have no immediate demands and can work on more or less whatever I want. Some days I get eight hours of sleep, or even more on occasion; some days I get six hours of sleep, or four… sometimes for several days on end.

I’m not complaining. I am way beyond lucky to be living the life I’m living, and I’m intensely aware of that. But it does present its challenges. And this is one of them: If I tried to set up a routine in which I meditated at the same time every day, it’d fail within a week. The only way I could really meditate at roughly the same time every day would be to do it right before I go to bed… but for me, that would be an almost complete missing of the point. I meditate to get my mind in a good state for dealing with my life and my work. I don’t particularly need to get my mind in a good state for dealing with being asleep. (Also, when I meditate right before I fall asleep, I tend to, you know, fall asleep.)

So for me, staying disciplined about this isn’t going to look like, “meditate every day at seven in the morning.”

For me, staying disciplined is going to look like, “meditate every day… regardless of what your day is like.”

For me, staying disciplined is going to look like, “No matter what your schedule is, find a slot in it for meditation. If you have time, do an open-ended body scan first thing when you wake up. If you don’t, then do a twenty-minute sitting meditation in the middle of the day before lunch, or in the late afternoon before you go to the gym, or during one of the conference sessions you’re okay with skipping, or do a body scan on the plane. If you really and truly don’t have twenty minutes today, do ten. And if you absolutely can’t find any other time to do it, do it at the end of the day before you fall asleep: it’s not ideal, but it’s better than not doing it at all.”

Discipline is a weird thing. It can mean regimentation, creating a schedule and sticking to it: going to the gym after work on Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays; playing chess every Tuesday and reading the Sunday Times every Sunday; writing every evening from eight until midnight. And for a lot of people, for a lot of lives and a lot of personalities, this works. I’m not dissing it. I’m actually kind of envious: an irregular life creates its own stresses, and it’s hard to feel stable or centered when your days and weeks never feel the same.

river with rocksBut a regular life is just not an option for me. Not at this point in my career. I need another kind of discipline: flexible discipline, adaptive discipline, discipline that flows around the rocks in the stream and still keeps moving, still stays itself.

And meditation isn’t just one of the things that I’m trying to fit into this irregular life. It’s one of the ways I’m making it feel regular. It’s one of the ways I’m giving it cohesion. It’s not just another part of my life that I’m trying to be disciplined about: it’s a tool that’s helping me create discipline, that’s helping me stay focused while the ground underneath me keeps shifting. And it’s a tool that’s bringing me some measure of peace.

One of the more unexpected things I’m beginning to get from this practice, and one that I hope to keep getting, is a sense of stability and centeredness that I can take with me wherever I am. An irregular life, a life that keeps throwing different things at you every day, can make you feel unsteady, off-center, vulnerable and defensive all at the same time. But whether I’m slamming on three deadlines at once, or staying in a different hotel in a different city every day, or freaking out about the Internet firestorm of the week, I can find twenty minutes, and sit quietly, and pay attention to my breath, and simply be myself.

Other pieces in this series:
On Starting a Secular Meditation Practice
Meditation and Breakfast
Meditation, and the Difference Between Theory and Practice
Some Thoughts on Secular Meditation and Depression/Anxiety
Secular Meditation, and Doing One Thing at a Time
Secular Meditation: “Energy,” and Attention/ Awareness
Secular Meditation: How Down Time is Changing
Secular Meditation: “This is my job”
Secular Meditation: I Am Who I Am
Secular Meditation: “That’s not for me”

Audiobook of “Bending” Available for Pre-Order!

Bending coverThe audiobook version of my erotic fiction collection, Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More, is now available for pre-order on Audible! It’s scheduled for release on July 31. It’s $19.95 for Audible non-members, less for Audible members.

And yes — I did the audiobook recording myself! That was an interesting experience, let me tell you…

For those who somehow missed the dealio about it:

These are not nice stories.

They’re filthy. They’re fearless. Some are even funny.

Greta Christina’s erotic stories are written to get you hard and wet — and to change the ways you think about sex. Be forewarned — stuff happens here that’s borderline consensual. Or not at all consensual. These are dirty, kinky stories about shame, about pain, helplessness and danger, reckless behavior and bad, bad ideas….

A baby dyke is manipulated into fetish porn by her beautiful, self-absorbed porn-star lover.

A good Christian wife follows her duty to obey, even as her husband’s sexual demands become bizarre.

A student, hungry for punishment, seeks it from a professor who should know better.

A woman with a dedicated fetish finds a lover who meets her more than halfway.

And then there’s the one about the unicorn and the rainbow…

Raw, exciting, joyful, intensely believable, Greta’s stories are written with a fierce respect for erotic fiction — and for sex itself.

Once again: Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More, is now available for pre-order in audiobook format on Audible! The book is also available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. A paperback edition is coming soon. Here are some wonderfully flattering blurbs about it: [Read more...]

Secular Meditation: The “Present Moment” Podcast/ Website

Some of you who’ve been reading my recent writings on secular meditation have been asking me, “How can I do this myself?” “What are some good resources?” “Where can I find out more about this?”

Present Moment logo

Ted Meissner — the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, and host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist — has started a new podcast and website: Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science, exploring meditation and mindfulness from an entirely secular perspective.

Present Moment is just getting off the ground — it’s eventually going to have a resource guide (which it doesn’t currently have), and the discussion forums are just being launched — but the first podcast is up, an interview with Dr. J. David Creswell, director of the Health and Human Performance Lab at Carnegie Mellon, who is doing research on coping mechanisms for stress, including mindfulness meditation. And the site also has something a lot of you have been asking for — basic meditation instructions. Check it out!

5th Atheist Film Festival in San Francisco, Sept. 14!

5th atheist film festival banner

Mark your calendars! The 5th Atheist Film Festival is going to be in San Francisco on Saturday, September 14, at the Roxie Theater (3117 16th St., a block from the 16th and Mission BART station). Festival passes are on sale now! (Tickets for individual films will go on sale August 14.)

There’ll also be a directors’ reception the night before, on Friday September 13 with directors Sylvia Broeckx and Scott Thurman and reporter Sophia Winkler (featured in the film Sophia Investigates the Good News Club). I’ve been to the director’s shindig several times now, and it’s always a blast: well worth it. This year’s featured films:

creation-movie-poster-atheist-film-festivalCreation. Creation traces English naturalist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution from a simple idea to a god-killer. The film tracks how the man struggles to balance his revolutionary theories on evolution and his relationship with a religious wife, whose faith contradicts his work.

Hug an AtheistHug an Atheist. The world premiere, featuring director Sylvia Broeckx! A documentary film about atheism in the USA, dispelling the myths and untruths that plague ordinary American atheists on their journey through life. Director Sylvia Broeckx will be present to answer questions and maybe even give hugs.

kumare-movie-poster-atheist-film-festivalKūmāré. This feature documentary film shows how filmmaker Vikram Gandhi impersonated a fake guru and built a following of real people. For those who question the cult of personality–or who have considered starting their own cult.

magdalene-sistersThe Magdalene Sisters. The triumphant story of three extraordinary women whose courage to defy a century of injustice would inspire a nation. While women’s liberation sweeps the globe, in 1960s Ireland four “fallen” women are stripped of their liberty and dignity and condemned to indefinite servitude in the Magdalene Laundries, where they’ll work to atone for their “sins.”

the-revisionaries-atheist-film-festivalThe Revisionaries. Featuring director Scott Thurman live at the festival! The theory of evolution and a re-write of American history are caught in the crosshairs when an unabashed Creationist seeks re-election as chairman of America’s most influential Board of Education–in Texas, naturally. Watch a story as unbelievable as creationism unfold as the board strives to crush facts and elevate opinion by influencing textbook choices in the nation’s second-largest state. Director Scott Thurman will be at the festival to answer questions about the making of this award-winning film. You can even submit your questions in advance to have them answered at the festival!

sophia investigates the good news clubSophia Investigates the Good News Club. Featured reporter Sophia Winkler will attend the festival! A window on the powerful religious fundamentalism that is forcing public schools to subsidize and promote its agenda. Learn why the Good News Club is bad news for kids. The intrepid skeptic reporter Sophia Winkler will be at AFF to answer questions about her experience diving into the Good News.

An all-day pass to the entire film festival is $40.00. The directors’ reception is $35.00 — and if you get both an all-day pass and the directors’ reception, it’s just $65.00. Hope to see you there!

Ashley Paramore (Healthy Addict) Speaks Out About Conference Assault

Ashley Paramore, a.k.a. video blogger healthyaddict (@healthaddict), has made a YouTube video describing and discussing her experience (only one of them) being assaulted at a skeptical conference. In this case, TAM.

If you see any more denialist (I’m not calling it hyperskeptical any more, I’m calling it deniaist, since that’s what it is) bullshit about “I’ve never seen any harassment or assault at conferences, therefore it doesn’t happen,” please point them to this video.