Tag Archives: Sweet

Curious About The Bookworm Is In?

If you’re curious about my new newsletter The Bookworm Is In, here’s last month’s edition about handfasting and romance. 

The Bookworm Is In (Love)

Hello! Welcome to the second ever Bookworm newsletter, where we… well I talk books, magic, and media. This edition is a pure cop out to the month of February: love and romance. I’m going to talk handfasting and get book-heavy with a heat-level separated list of some romances I love.

I would love any and all feedback so feel free to reply to this email or contact me at my preferred internet lurking places down at the bottom. 

(or Getting Married in the Woods Without All the Paperwork)

Handfasting originally came from the British Isles as a sort of common-law marriage for peasants who didn’t have enough wealth to need all the legal wrangling of an “official” marriage, according to Handfasting and Wedding Rituals by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartzstein. The ritual fell out of favor due to the prevalence of church weddings but was revived in the 1950s after England’s anti-witchcraft laws were repealed and the “occultists came out of the broom closet.” Pagans and Wiccans, especially Gardnerians, (a Wiccan sect founded by Gerald Gardner) reclaimed the term, though it didn’t always equal a romantic partnership. Hardcore Gardnerians were supposed to handfast with their magical partner of the opposite sex (regardless of sexual preference) for “this life and all future lives to come.”


These days, handfasting is pretty much equivalent to a pagan wedding, with the amount of pagan ritual and legal binding up to the couple. The basic element of a handfasting is binding the couple’s hands together, usually in figure eight pattern with symbolically colored ribbons. The great thing about handfastings is they are much more flexible than an actual wedding. They’re not bound by legal restrictions on bigamy or same-sex couplings. Of course, this means they don’t give you any of the legal protections of an actual marriage but they can be used as a commitment ceremony to affirm your love in the eyes of your community just as well.


Handfasting and Wedding Rituals has sample vows and rituals for ceremonies bringing together polyamorous groups, couples of different religions, or couples not wanting to alienate their non-pagan friends/family. I would suggest the book for anyone considering a handfasting or adding handfasting elements to your wedding. That’s why I bought it and though we haven’t had our ceremony yet, this book has been really helpful for narrowing down what we want when we do.

Interesting Things

Read Things

(Oh you know, books and stuff)

Here a few of my favorite romances, divided by sexiness level, so you know what you’re getting into. 

(Little to no sex)

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion– Funny and charming, this novel follows a male narrator (rare in straight romance) who’s probably on the autism spectrum but doesn’t know it and his quest for the “perfect wife.” And of course, the imperfect woman who fall in his lap.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis– A sci-fi near future opposites attract romance about the future of communication, and how it can both isolate us and bring us together. It’s a long book but a quick and engrossing read.

Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole– An uplifting historical romance novella set during the Civil Rights Movement featuring a black woman who’s trying to find her place in the Movement and a white Jewish boxer who’s loved her since they were kids. Really, everything I’ve read by Alyssa Cole is great, though.

(Definite sex, but not super erotic)

The Edge Series by Ilona Andrews– A series of pretty much standalone urban fantasy romances set in a swampy pocket universe in the rural South where there’s magic but you still have to cross over to our world to go shop at Walmart. Badass heroes and heroines abound.

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer– Grumpy cook/columnist meets a mafia hitman sent to protect her and beans him with a frying pan in a case of mistaken identity. Add in a Southern mob wedding, a mystery, the hilarious insanity of a good Crusie/Mayer book and… hold that thought, I’m going to go order that book from the library.

Riveted by Meljean Brook– Though it’s technically the third book in the Iron Seas Trilogy, this steampunk romance adventure can stand alone. It’s my favorite in the series and explores mechanical replacement limbs, homophobia, and a secret women-only town in Iceland.

(Not Safe For Work. Sexy times ahoy!)

Serving Pleasure by Alisha Rai– Say you have a hot artist neighbor who never keeps his curtains drawn. Say you’re lonely and he’s not exactly shy. You know where this is going, every voyeur does. Now say he’s watching you right back.

Telling Tales by Charlotte Stein– I am a little bit in love with the way Charlotte Stein writes. It’s beautiful yet blunt. This erotic tale about four old college buddies who have to spend a month living together in their dead professor’s house for a vaguely believable reason is no exception. This is probably got the highest sexy times per page ratio of anything on this list.

Hot Head by Damon Suede– Two male best friends and New York Firefighters, one of whom has been nursing his unrequited love for the other since the Twin Towers came down. It’s angsty and sexy and damn hard to put down.


Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance by Sarah Wendell– Your fun, stereotype-busting introduction to the romance genre as a whole from the co-founder of the amazing site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Queer Heartache by Kit Yan– If you’re looking for poetry, try this raw, beautiful exploration of gender identity and love.

Heard Things

(Music and podcasts and the like)

Smart Podcast Trashy Books– Speaking of the Smart Bitches, here’s Wendell’s awesome podcast where she interviews romance writers, readers, and reviewers as well as recommends books and media. Not at all safe for work.

Authorized: Love and Romance– Hosted by Faith Salie, this season of the Audible podcast (available on Itunes) talks about the sex, love, and romance in literature. It’s lots of fun even though Salie sometimes talks over the guests.

Seen Things

(movies and things found around the internet)

Post Secret– This isn’t a new blog, but it’s always worth mentioning. Post Secret started as an art project where people mailed their secrets to founder Frank Warren and he’d publish them. Now it’s turned into a show, a TED talk, an exhibit and the Smithsonian and a series of books. But I still love seeing a new selection of secrets show up on my WordPress every Sunday.

Bawdy Bookworms– Take a quarterly book, base it around a romance book and add sex toys and tips and you get the brainchild of founder Thien-Kim Lam. It’s like a toy party and a book club in a box. I haven’t tried it, but it just looks like so much fun that I may have to.

Looking for me? I’m lurking around FacebookTwitter, and my website. Also, terribly exciting news! My story latest story “I Carry You Everywhere” can be found in the Realities Perceived Anthology from Left Hand Publishers. If you’re looking for a quick romance to read on your phone, the first episode of my twitter story The Blind Leading The Blind is up on the LongShorts app. Once you finish, be sure to tweet  to get more!

Copyright © 2018 Katta Hules, All rights reserved.

If you want to see what it would look like in its full glory, click here. The next edition will be coming out this weekend, so click here if you’d like to subscribe.


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Mood Music

I’ve been doing some heavy cut and paste editing lately, the kind you have to do in silence in order to catch all the strange little mistakes and omissions that happened when you wrote the initial draft. However, I miss listening to music while I write, so I am posting about it here [and listening to music while I do.]

I have tried a couple different ways of using music while I write including online radio stations, and creating a playlist for the whole book/project. While I have had some luck using online music platforms for the latter [including the recently reborn Grooveshark] for hearing fresh tunes without paying/illegal downloading, I have found creating mood playlists works best. It is just much less trouble finding the appropriate music when you can match what’s playing to the emotions you want to induce.

To create a good set of mood playlists I combed through my iTunes Library and sorted everything by the emotions they evoke. Here is a rundown of the five playlists I have now:

  • Angry/Aggressive– This is an easy one, and it contains mostly rock and rap, including artists like AC/DC, Eminem, Linkin Park, and Three Days Grace. I use this for fight scenes and to boost my confidence.
  • Creepy/Weird/Gritty– This list is much more of a mash up of styles. My music
    Mood Music by Katta Hules.

    Mood Music by Katta Hules.

    tastes tend towards the surreal and creepy end of the spectrum, and through my work with TUBE. Magazine I find a lot of strange songs, so it is quite the eclectic list. My list includes artists like CocoRosie, Glass Animals, Tribe Society, Nostalghia, Seether, as well as the soundtrack to Only Lovers Left Alive. I use it to bring out the eerier side of my work.

  • Happy/Excited/Fun– Anything that makes me dance awkwardly in my chair goes on this list. I’m more concerned about effect than intent here, so while a track might make me happy, it might not be actually a happy song. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of pop and dance-y tunes on this mix as well as some things I wouldn’t readily admit to liking, much less owning.  Artists on this playlist include: Marina & the Diamonds, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Bowling for Soup, The Beatles, Fallout Boy, and, because he makes me laugh, Meatloaf.  I use this playlist to write lighter, funnier work and help jumpstart my drive to write.
  • Love/Lust/Obsession– Again a somewhat self-explanatory one: anything and everything dealing with the good and the bad of love and sex goes on this list. Some of the artists on the list are: Lana Del Ray, Sweet, Panic! At the Disco, My Chemical Romance, Foreigner, Florence + The Machine, and Arctic Monkeys. I use this to add intensity to scenes dealing with affection or need of any kind.
  • Sad/Poignant– This is for songs that give me almost want to cry for the intense emotions they evoke. Some of them may be a little sappy, but who cares as long it helps me elicit that level of emotion in my writing.  Artists on my list include: Adele, The Civil Wars, Bastille, Coldplay, HIM, Eastern Conference Champions, Mumford & Sons, and Simon & Garfunkel. Good for making your writing just that much more depressing.

Obviously, one song or artist might not fit in just one playlist, so there are a lot of crossovers on my lists and I find that works well for me. Sometimes I dwell on one album in a playlist because it gels well with the project I’m working on. For example, I listened to Glass Animals’ ZABA and the soundtrack to Only Lovers Left Alive incessantly when I was writing my short story. For my current project I’m listening to Tribe Society’s Delirium Sonata every time I get some serious rewriting in.

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