Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Ode to Chin Hair

This poem was inspired by my chin hair. It seems to perpetually grow and sprout at the most inopportune moments. (Or, at least, I realize it's there at the most inopportune moments. LOL)

Ode to Chin Hair

Oh, chin hair, how you sprout!
No matter how often I pull you out.
Bristly and white
You arrive overnight
Rearing your head in the morning light.

And sometimes at midday, you appear
When my tweezers are no where near.

How truly evil you are.
Sometimes, you go too far!

Why must you race along my chin
As if chased by the wind?
Surely, you can find
Another chin more designed
For coarse, white hair than mine.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For examples of chins much more designed for chin hair, please visit this site.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Unfashionable, Sensible, Warm Clothes

Common sense. Where did common sense in fashion go? Did it ever exist? Or am I the only one baffled by the stupidity we call fashion?

This all started up at my mother's at Thanksgiving...

Actually, I take that back. This has been going on for several years, probably predating Lily's birth, but I wasn't aware of it until I started shopping for her. Every year, I go to different stores looking for cute Christmas dresses for Lily to wear. And every year, regardless of whether I am in the Central Valley or in Los Angeles, none of these "Christmas" dresses have sleeves. O.o

Yes, adorable, but freezing.

Okay. I get it. To someone in the Midwest, California seems warm, even in winter. (Unless you are in the mountains, of course.) However, those of us who live here year around, 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit is cold. Even 50 degrees is cold. And, at the end of December, we wear long sleeve shirts, jeans, and bundle up with jackets. So, I ask you, why would anyone think we want to dress our daughters in a dress sure to give her pneumonia?

But I digress... This isn't about previous years. This is about this year's fashion stupidity. And this year has some doozies.

Back to my story:

My mother picked Lily up some Hello Kitty pajamas at Walmart. Except the pajamas were missing one small component: a top. Lily, being female, obviously doesn't need a top. I mean, women don't wear tops, surely. O.o So, Mom had to buy her a shirt separately (thin because, you know, it's winter after all, and it's warm outside.) Not that I have anything against these pajamas. I'm just baffled as to why the tops are missing.

By the way, I have noticed that Target is also selling pajama bottoms, just pajama bottoms, for women. No tops. Um, okay.

Now the tops my mother bought are so thin you might as well be wearing muslin. Wait! Muslin is thicker than these tops. So, Lily's legs and bottom are warm, but her core, which is the part of her that needs to be warm the most, is not. Of course, these PJ's are Lily's favorites. (sigh) Perhaps this is China's way of getting rid of all of us.

Now, the pajama tops aren't the only shirts that are paper thin because now all the rage is layering. Layering paper thin tops. Paper thin tops that cost $25 a piece. (Ka-ching went the manufacturers.) You must buy another top to wear underneath because you can see through the original one. The spaghetti strap top that goes underneath is only $6 and as thick as a top should be. The paper thin tops will last maybe a few washing before you have to shell out another $25 to buy a new one. That one you paid $6 for to go underneath? That one will last you 5-10 years. (g)

The other day, while at a kid's birthday party, I saw a mother wearing this fashion. We were at an ice skating rink. She was freezing. I was so surprised.

Now, I don't care what other people wear (within reason...some things should not be seen.) However, when fashion fads affect my wardrobe, I am less than pleased. And this year I happen to need new turtlenecks. (I told you I'm no fashion maven. I'm practical and like to be warm.) A few of mine are from college and are in desperate need of replacing. So, I asked Mom for some for Christmas, but due to this stupid fashion trend, the turtleneck I want might as well be available only on the moon. It's not going to keep me warm, unless I layer. Well, I do layer. If it's really cold, I'll wear long johns, a turtleneck, a sweater, and a jacket. But it's not that cold out here most of the time, and I want practical shirts, ones that will last me another (cough, cough) ten years (or more) and ones where I don't have to layer three together to be half as warm as I want to be.

Common sense. It seems as if no one has it anymore. Can someone please tell me where it went? And who are these idiots designing clothes? While they run around in their fur coats, we freeze in their designs. I want my unfashionable, sensible, warm clothes back. And if a designer can't create exciting clothes while keeping temperature in mind, perhaps they aren't that good of a designer after all!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

A Christmas Miracle

Last Monday, Charlie, Lily, and I decided to have dinner at a local mall. What? Were we insane? Well, honestly, I wasn't thinking nor was Charlie, or we wouldn't have gone there. But by the time we thought about what we were doing, we were already in line to enter the parking lot (yes, in line), and it was too late as Lily was nearly foaming at the mouth hungry and only wanted the promised meal. (sigh) And there was no way to turn around. We were a bit stuck.

So, we see this huge line in front of us. At the front the stop sign 20 or so cars ahead is a security person waving a glow stick directing traffic. Five or ten minutes later (although it did seem longer with the moaning, I'm-going-to-die-if-I-don't-eat-now child in the backseat), we turn into the parking lot behind a couple of others. We are routed to the right down an aisle behind several other cars. The person in front of us is anxious and zooms ahead. We do not, and, lo and behold (insert heavenly music here), there in front of us a car is pulling out. Not just one car, but two. Both parking spots are close to the entrance we want to go into.

It's a miracle! Not just any miracle, but a Christmas miracle. (g) Charlie cannot believe it happened. I, on the other hand, have no problems believing. (g) When it comes to parking lots, I am heaven blessed... most of the time, but especially that night. :)

So, the lesson here is...

1. believe in miracles
2. or avoid malls during Christmas?

I'd say both.

Have a very Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule, Happy Hanukkah (although that ends on the 27th), and so on, and I'll "see" you next week.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Laugh with Me

My apologies for dropping the ball here this week, but with it being the last week before Christmas and a looming deadline, I've been hard pressed to find an extra minute here and there.
Today I want to discuss and sort of rant a li'l bit about humor in books.
I’m all for reality—as long as it’s not reality TV because I lived that insanity in high school—but sometimes it can be taken too far. Reality
must be a part of all fiction regardless of the genre. I write several
different genres from paranormal romance to science fiction to mainstream and I always include one special aspect of reality in my work: humor.

Not long ago I found a thread where readers were discussing their
dislike of humor in romantic fiction. Their point? They couldn’t take the plot or the characters seriously if humor was involved.

Huh? Laughter is a part of real life

Isn’t life and romantic relationships difficult enough as it is? Ever meet someone who lacked a sense of humor? You spout off something that
has others around you cracking up, but there’s that one person who stares at you like he just found something gooey and stinky on the bottom of his shoe. Then you hear someone mutter, “Sheesh, dude, you’re a major stick in the mud.” (I bet it wasn’t mud he found on his shoe!)

I’m not talking about slapstick humor but legitimate, spontaneous laughter created by circumstances or someone’s unique viewpoint or retort. Comic relief eases tension in a scene. Whether it’s a movie, a TV program, a play, or a book, humor lightens the mood.

In my latest book release, Ruby, the White King and Marilyn Monroe, Ruby Nutter has a high-stress life. Her father blames her for the death of her mother, she’s cursed with unusual powers that surface whenever she’s upset, making her dangerous to those around her (just ask the neighborhood bully who landed upside down in a chimney), men dump her the moment they notice she’s different, and everyone fears her too much to befriend her.

How does Ruby handle everything? Through her rapier wit and sarcasm, and oh how she wields them like deadly weapons.

The novel runs on high octane, propelling the reader from Ruby setting her boss’ bra on fire to running from beautiful yet malevolent bikers who ride demonic motorcycles. She uses her humor and cynicism as a
protection device, too. Even when she’s battling evil incarnate, she can’t seem to control her mouth.

So, the reader is on the proverbial edge of the seat fearful the biker leader will finally catch Ruby, wondering how she’ll get out of yet
another sticky situation (no, not the stuff on the guy’s shoe! Forget that
already!) only to come across an unexpected line that generates laughter. Even ditzy Maureen, the Marilyn Monroe look-alike, can surprise her with a bit of humor.

Does this comedic tool take away from the plot and characters? Absolutely not! It only makes the characters richer and more lifelike.

How many times have you been in church or some sort of formal ceremony when it’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop then someone’s kid
rips off a massive fart that rattles the windows? Mmm, hmm. Don’t tell me you have no idea what I’m talking about because I’ve raised enough children to know how it plays out. You try not to laugh when all you want to do is fall into the aisle clutching your midsection. Others start chuckling, and then you hear a few whispered “Gah! I told you not to eat those burritos last night!” Everyone is ready to explode into hysterical laughter.

How about harmless pranks you see on TV or YouTube? People
crack up at the reactions of those being scared or fooled. How many times have you laughed at someone who trips on thin air? Maybe you’ve been in class and the professor was so tired he said something backward, causing everyone to crack up. That’s life. It’s real, it happens, and regardless if it’s paranormal romance, mainstream fiction or horror, true-to-life humor is in my books.

Join Ruby on her journey, laugh with her, and then maybe share her gift of laughter with a friend, too.

Reincarnated over the centuries. Stuck with a ditzy Marilyn Monroe lookalike. Falling for a rich albino guy. It’s just Ruby’s luck for Hell’s “real” angels to ride into this life and screw it all up.

Amazon link for print and Kindle:

Here's an excerpt for your enjoyment.

“Is he gone?” I asked.

Solomon peeped through the curtains. “I don’t see anyone. After all that noise, it probably won’t be long before the motel manager tells us to leave too.” He let the curtain fall and looked over at me. “You know more about this strange stuff than you’ve been letting on.”

“I didn’t want to scare anyone unnecessarily, and I didn’t want you to think...” I gritted my teeth and ordered the tears not to fall.

“To think you’re a freak?” he supplied. “To treat you like shit because you’re different, or that you’re not what people consider normal?”

“No,” I lied, “it’s just that—” The sob ripped free of me before I could squelch it.

Solomon crossed the room and folded me in his arms, holding me so close I heard his heartbeat. Now was the time he was supposed to go crazy with fear, yell obscenities, call me names, and then leave so fast his shoes caught on fire.

“Why?” he said.

Sobs still spilled from my mouth, but I managed to squeak, “Why what?”

He leaned back and peered deeply into my eyes. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?”


I pushed against his chest, but he held me still.

“Why do you clam up or run away whenever someone asks you something personal?”

I sniffed and tried to avoid his penetrating gaze. “Maybe because it’s none of your business?”

“Look, I’m not asking you to tell me all the deep dark secrets you might have.” He let me go and crossed his arms over his chest. “The fact that something unnatural is going on aside, I’d like to know a little more about the women I’m traveling with, that’s all.”

He had me there. Hadn’t I gone through the same thing with Maureen last night?

“For starters,” he said, “I’d like to know more about the incredible things you do.”

“I honestly don’t know how I do them.” I risked looking at him and wished I hadn’t. The expression on that man’s face said he was determined to find out more. “Can we discuss this another time?” I turned away, needing some space. Most of all I needed time to process the fact he wasn’t already packing his bags. “I promise I’ll answer a couple of your questions if we can do it some other time.”

“Fair enough.” He sighed. “So you really think that guy is tied to the hunters who murdered Gabriella?”


“Come to think of it, the men who attacked my sister and me were really big too. I can’t remember many details about them now other than their yellow eyes and the smell of booze.”

“Solomon, you’re in danger if you travel with me. You should go home.”

“No. I refuse to leave you, Ruby. You might be able to ignore the chemistry and feelings between us, but I can’t.”

That was the last thing I’d expected out of him. For a moment I said nothing. I couldn’t let Solomon know how much I cared for him, how much I wanted him. If I did, there was no doubt it would all come crashing down. At least for now he was still with me.

Friday, 16 December 2011

No Parking for YOU!

No, I don’t mean the kind at the mall.  I personally avoid those like the plague unless I’m going there to have hairs on my body dealt with. You know, I go to the same place to get pampered by my favorite hair fairy and to chat with a nice lady while she rips “other” hairs from my nether regions using hot wax. Otherwise, you can keep your mall shopping. 

I’m talking about jerks of a different ilk. The sort who should be good neighbors, but aren’t. 

You see, I own a bar.  Well, I own a brewery, with a “beer bar” (Tap Room) attached.  I have plenty of free parking  because I chose the location away from the crazed downtown madness of very-much-not-free parking.  My business is located in a former appliance warehouse, behind a store that sells and repairs bicycles.  Herein lies my problem.

The bike shop has about 25 parking spots and is open most nights until 8 p.m.  I have about 60 spots and open at 4 or noon depending on the day.  My business has been, in a word, successful.  We have many times more than 60-cars’ worth of folks inside drinking my brewer’s amazing concoctions, playing foosball, throwing darts, watching sports or whatever. 

Like that night last week when I had one of those “Oh, dear Lord please do not let the fire marshal show up tonight” sort of night. I was hosting a public radio forum on K-12 education in Michigan.  Ann Arbor is lousy with teachers so they packed the place. It was moderated by a well-known political correspondent.  I am a huge fan grrl and was loving it AND the fact that I could look around and see something like 75% new faces in my establishment. 

And my “neighbors” call and complain that my patrons are in their parking lot and the tow truck has been called.  They did the same thing when I threw a hugely well attended 1st anniversary party.  A**holes.  So I had the moderator make an announcement, about 10 folks came out, and I stood in the snow, apologized, got them situated in the empty bank lot next to the bike shop. The bank that has welcomed my after hours parking, no problem.  This bike shop at most has 2 cars in its gigantic lot at any given time.  Seriously.

This being “Ann Arbor” (read: over educated, underemployed and vocal—oh and HUGE bike riders) 90% of the nice people who came out of the bar, missed a solid 20 minutes of discussion to move their cars from a nearly empty lot took the time to stick their heads in the door of said bike shop to remind those folks that they would be taking their over-priced bike buying dollars elsewhere.  I love the power of the consumer.

Bike shop owner called to apologize.  Too late.  Damage done.  I blog as The A2 Beer Wench and have a huge reach and issued a teensy little PSA on my blog the next day reminding folks that they really should never, ever park in the bike shop lot. For any reason.  The implication of course being: Even to buy a bike. 

Don’t know whom they were messing with, did they?

And so you can see why I’m even ON this fine blog today, I’ll make the connection for you.  I have a series of stories and one novel based in the craft beer industry.  The Brewing Passion Series with Breathless Press includes:
The Tap Room (a Choose Your Romance Ending novel) 

They chronicle the lives and loves of the 3 owners of the fictional Winter Street Brewing Company with a lot of heat, heart and humor—oh, and hops. 

Check ‘em out.  You won’t be disappointed.

If you’re in the Ann Arbor area, come by the Wolverine State Brewing Co. and ask for the Wench.  But do NOT park in that damn bike shop lot, ok?

Microbrewery owner, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great middle west, in a Major College Town.  Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat-trailing spouse, plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry) has prepped her for life as erotic romance author.  When she isn't sweating beer inventory, sales figures or promotional efforts for her latest publication, doing pounds of laundry for her sweaty athletic children, watching La Liga on the Fox Soccer Channel, or trying to figure out what to order in for dinner, she can be found walking her standard poodles or doing Bikram Yoga.  Liz loves her Foo Fighters Pandora station, and watching reruns of Deadwood, when there isn't any decent European football on the telly.  If you want a beer education follow her:  For writing related stuff, including her backlist, go to:

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas is Coming…

I know…duh. But, it’s coming, ready or not, this lovely, festive occasion meant to celebrate with family, friends, neighbors and even the occasional stranger. I love this time of year!

Not that you’d ever guess it though. I’m an utter Scrooge. I hate to decorate more than anything else in the world. My tree is a very sad Charlie Brown Christmas Tree that I bought on Amazon. It came in a box, my son assembled it, and it plays the Charlie Brown Christmas theme. Easy peasy for Ms. Scrooge. Plus, it makes a statement. Don’t ask me to decorate. It just ain’t gonna happen.

I don’t send out cards except to a few friends (usually with a gift card tucked inside, which was the excuse to send the card in the first place). My mother and husband’s parents do get special cards because I’d be a chump if I didn’t send them one. But you know, I think I’ve started a trend, because we don’t get many cards anymore, either. Or maybe it’s because we pissed everyone off and they struck us from their lists? Whatever.

I hate to shop. As in, there’s-not-a-snowball’s-chance-in-hell-you’ll-find-me-near-a-mall-in-December, hate it. I got a free month of Amazon Prime a month ago when I activated my new Kindlefire. I get free two-day shipping? I’m so there. The UPS guy and I are on a first-name basis now. I may even send him one of my rare Christmas cards, we’re that close. Option to renew for an annual Prime membership is tomorrow…I renewed it last week, just to be on the safe side that there’d be no interruption in service.
On the flip side…
I do adore Christmas music, doesn’t matter what kind, I’ve got it playing all day long. And Christmas-themed movies? Don’t get me started…the Hallmark and Lifetime channels are my best friends in December. It makes the men in my house want to barf. But I don’t care how cute or cliché these cinematic jewels are, I watch them. The 12 Men of Christmas is one of my favorites. Think Calendar Girls, but with men. Yay!

Cooking and baking are big deals for me. Lots of Christmas goodies in my house this month! It can be dangerous, but I did join a gym last week so that I can eat what I make, without so much guilt. I haven’t gone to said gym yet, but I’m hoping the damned monthly membership fee will tip the weight scale in my favor. I’m a big believer in miracles, even when undeserved.

No matter how you celebrate (or don’t celebrate) it. Try to have a happy holiday season. We call it Christmas in our house, but whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope it’s a joyous and safe time with all you hold dear!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Stressed Out!

You know what? I usually try not to rant. I really do. But today? Y'all just have to deal with it, because here's the list:

laundry to fold (5 loads) and four more to wash. Has no one ever heard of nudist colonies?

Replace the bathroom tap so the water comes out at more than a trickle. If I can find the plumbing wrench. And if I can actually figure out how to do it.

Paint the girl's bedroom, which she had been promised would happen last Christmas...

Christmas tree to put up. Should be an enjoyable family activity. For crazy people, or the happy get along gang, maybe. Not for any normal family I've ever met.

House to decorate. Same as above.

Replace the front on the kitchen drawer someone slammed so hard (likely in a fit of rage. Possibly me) that it came off.

35K story to edit. I'm so seriously sick of this story I used to love it makes me want to cry.

And speaking of crying, a website to figure out why it's gone haywire, because the suckage that is a pathetic 0-4 hits a day my stats tell me I'm getting sure aren't sucking up much bandwidth! But my web host doesn't seem to care and I even offered to pay someone to help me with this and she gave me a pointer or two and pretty much told me to do it myself. Seriously. You people have no idea how much technology reaches down my throat and tries to strangle me with my own entrails. It hates me that much. I'm not exaggerating.

And instead of doing any of that fun stuff, I get to spend the weekend in the company of the most aggressively controlling and selfish person in my life. And help put up her Christmas tree. Huzzah.

Who wants to be me for a day or two? I'll trade ya! Do you clean fish guts for a living? Or hotel toilets where the rooms are to let by the hour? I'll do that. Muck raking? I could use the exercise, and probably the stress relief. Anything, just please someone make this all go away, just for a day.

Oh, and to top it off, I started reading First Watch by Peter...somebody. Sir, I'm so sorry I forget your last name. Let me just say, in the mood I'm in, I had to put the book down because of the potential for Dire Things seemingly about to happen to the protag, and I just couldn't stand it. I'll get back to it when I'm feeling a little more bullet proof and a little less like the proverbial ticking time bomb of hormonal insanity. Sorry. (Incidentally, that's good writing, if I actually care what's happening to the fictional guy so much I can't read the bad stuff unless I psyche myself up for it. Just sayin').

So yeah. Merry Christmas, everyone. I'll wander on back when I remember the whole love and joy part, promise. Look for me in mid February or so...

What do all of you do to get past this shit? There must be a trick I'm missing, because I'm a little....ranty.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Dear Reader:

Stop telling me how to write my characters!

More specifically, how to describe them. Because I usually don't. In fact, in some stories, my characters don't even get names. This is not my fault. If they don't tell me what their names are, how can I tell you?

Sometimes, I have no real idea what they look like. Sometimes, I know perfectly what they look like, and I don't really want to know if my character is not what you envisioned when you read the story. (Well, a certain someone told me the main character in my latest WIP reminded her of Jude Law, until I finally got to his description, and then she was tossed out of the story on her ass, so, well, no. He's not Jude Law. Not even a little bit, and I will fix that my  friend, ASAP!)

But if you think my character has long flowing locks of curly black hair and I describe him as having a a shaved head, well, no, annoying person, I am not wrong about my character. A person, especially a guy, who grows hair to his waist is a fundamentally different person than one who shaves his head. Think about that. Long hair, for a guy, is a trophy, a rebellion, a statement that no one owns you or your choices to step out of that gender box. Shaved hair is a symbol of all things military, and conforming. Not really the same type of person, my friend. (Just for fun, think about that same dynamics in a girl, and what the hair to the waist and the shaved head mean, and maybe it will make more sense.)

Dear, dear reader, I am not an idiot. Neither are you, of course, but maybe, read the book again, and imagine what might have to change about a guy who shaves his head to get him to grow it out to his waist. There might even be a really good story in that change, but do think about it, okay?

Also, another reason I don't describe my characters is this:
 I watched this video, and OMG, I want to make a character that is this adorable, this sweet, and this happy. Well, until I break him , and then put him back together, that is, because, well, that's what I do. I mean, just watch the video. This kid just exudes joy all over the place. But if I commit to this particular configuration of physical characteristics in my head, what if I get it wrong in description? That's the time when I'll feel like I didn't succeed. (Like the Jude Law incident. lol!)

So what do other writers do? I know some have very specific ideas of what their characters look like. Right down to having an actor/model/musician whatever representation to draw from in their descriptions. That just feels so...restricting to me. Are there any other writers like me out there who just, well, wing it? And what if, as a reader, that writer description isn't anything like what you imagine the characters to be? Do you just ignore the writer? (I do! lol!)

 Wow. I read this over and the use of the word 'well' is shameful. This, readers, is what editors do for me. But. I decided to leave them, and do a little contest. Spur of the moment. I'll give away a few copies of and old story, "Muses's Vacation" (because the sub in this story is one of my more adorable characters, I think) to three people who play editor and tell me how many times I over-used the word 'well' in this post :D

Blurb: Patrick is pretty new to the idea of having a Dom. When Leo gets trapped in that endless cycle of word-lock, and the inspiration just doesn't come for his writer Dom, Patrick decides discretion is better than taking his needs and frustration to Leo and asking for what he wants. Leo is not pleased to find his sub trying to satisfy his own desires, but even giving Pat what he needs doesn't break through the block, and Patrick knows drastic measures are in order. He has to drag Leo half way around the world before the writer realizes it's time to put his muse, and his sub, in their places.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Apartment Living

Please help us give L.J. LaBarthe a warm welcome.

When I first put fingers to keyboard for this post, I was going to rant about medical specialist waiting rooms. I feel I'm quite an aficionado of the waiting room, and so my rant was going to be about the bland decor, the muzak, the somnolent effect of the too-warm air-conditioning. And then I went outside of my apartment to put out my garbage and something happened to me that made me rethink my position on the waiting room rant.

I speak, dear friends, of the joys that are apartment block living.

I live in a small block of apartments. It's a great block, six apartments in total and our landlady is honestly the best landlady I have ever had. I've lived here ten years now, and I've had some wonderful times and some terrible, traumatic times here. I've also had some truly hilarious times, times that can only be summed up – and often are – by the phrase, "L.J., this would only happen to you!"

So, to return to the incident that decided me on changing the subject of my rant. As I said, I was outdoors, putting out my garbage. It was a Friday night, just after 10pm. I was, as most people who live in apartment blocks and go into communal areas, fully clothed. Okay, so maybe not in my silk evening gown and diamonds, but still. I was dressed. And this is important.

Anyway, as I had paused by my front door, one of my upstairs neighbours came bouncing down the stairs, also to put his garbage out. I made a face much like that of a stunned goldfish when he appeared, for lo, his state of dress was remarkably less than mine.

Never have I looked up at the sky so fast.

Now, I applaud him being comfortable in his own skin. All power to him. However, wandering around the communal areas of the apartment block, wearing naught but tighty whities and a t-shirt, with everything God gave you outlined by cotton fabric is, I think, taking it just a little bit too far. Especially as this isn't a nudist apartment block and the communal areas open out onto a fairly busy road.

This isn't the first out of the ordinary thing that I've experienced here. It is, perhaps, the only one involving exposed flesh, but in the aggregate, not even remotely peculiar. I love this apartment block – it gives me so many ideas for things to put in my books – as much as I get irritated at being kept awake so often! Which brings me to the next thing that is the bane of the apartment block resident. Noise late at night.

This same exposure friendly neighbour is also given to practising his guitar. Not a problem. Except that he decides it's going to happen at midnight or later and I tend to like my sleep. I feel like the crazy cat lady who bangs on the ceiling with a broom, squawking "SHUT UP!"

If it's not him, then it's his neighbours, who are a young couple and very lovely people. I was reading in bed one night a few months ago, something that's pretty regular for me, and I heard a strange sound above my head.

"What are they doing?" I asked my cat. The cat, alas, had no answer. So I strained to listen harder, and was utterly confused – it sounded as if my upstairs neighbours were sawing planks of wood. Who saws planks of wood at 11pm? Or, in fact, in their inner suburban apartment at all?

It wasn't until I heard the screams of passion, that I realised there was an entirely different kind of wood involved and suddenly decided that listening to my iPod would be a much better choice of soundtrack to my book.

My bedroom wall is a shared wall with next door's living room, and my ceiling is the floor of Confidently Exposing Himself To All And Sundry neighbour. I'd always thought these walls were pretty thick, but they aren't as thick as I thought they were. So, the Lumberjack Couple, every time that tell-tale sawing planks noise starts up, make me reach for my iPod. I sometimes wonder who else in the block can hear them, but it's not the sort of thing you bring up in the polite small talk with the rest of the neighbours. I don't have the courage, really, to say, "So, just wondering, can you hear our upstairs neighbours bonking at all hours? No? Just me then, righto." I'm blunt, but not that blunt!

Strangely enough, my living room wall is shared by a stair well and the communal laundry, wherein our landlady kindly provides us with a washing machine and dryer. This side of the apartment is much less noisy than my bedroom side. I sometimes wonder how that works, given that a washing machine isn't a very quiet appliance, and it's an industrial one designed for big loads and frequent use. Plus, the stairs are made of steel, so sometimes people going up and down them, depending on their shoes, sounds like a herd of galloping elephants. Still quieter than my bedroom!

I've had some scary experiences here, too. Several years ago, there was a gang war in the communal drive way, by the carport. I never got the full story, and I think I'm quite glad of that, but the upshot was that the police were called, our local version of CSI were here and it was, essentially, my own live action police drama in the front of the apartments.

Because I need to share these things, and it wasn't too late in the evening, I picked up my phone and called my friend Min and sat, whispering to her a running commentary of everything that was going on, while sitting in the dark. I peered through a crack in the door, because I didn't want to be seen, and Min laughed and laughed in between my statements of, "Oh my god, someone's running away from the cops!" and "Oh my god, CSI are here!"

Apartment living is never dull! But oh, sometimes I wish it was. If only because I really, really like my sleep.

Oh, and Dude Who Parks His Tractor In The Front Yard, I have one question for you. Just one.

That question is this. WHY?!


L. J. LaBarthe is a South Australian woman living in the city of Adelaide with her cat, Castiel, in an apartment block that provides endless entertainment. She writes to get the bunnies out of her head, and can be found at her website or her blog or her twitter @brbsiberia. Her latest release is the Christmas themed novella set in Darwin, Australia, called Long Road Back, and is available here at Dreamspinner Press. Her full length novel, No Quarter, about Archangels in love, will be available in the first quarter of 2012, also with Dreamspinner Press.


Yoo Lee Shin had great hopes for his new life studying engineering in Australia, but nothing could have prepared him for the wonder of falling in love. His roommate’s brother, Craig, is beautiful, kind, and brave—and, very shortly after they meet, he’s deployed. As Christmas nears, can Shin keep hope for a happy ending bright enough to guide Craig to him on the long road back?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

In a Writer's Mind

Not to sound too much like a needy, whiny ingrate in need of therapy, but my kids don't understand me. They have no idea why I'm so tired by the end of the day, since I "don't anything all day" while they're at school. I try to explain what I do all day, but about four words in, their eyes glaze over and they stop paying attention--these are the same children who beg me to come to school on Career Day to talk to their class about life as a writer (well, the younger child does; the older one cringes at the thought of my even acknowledging my relation to her, much less having me talk about writing romance books!). If you're a mom (or a dad), you can probably relate to this (even if you don't write romance). I don't know about your schedule, but mine looks something like this:

6:50: Crap, the alarm went off again! Try to make retain some nuggets from the dream that might turn itself into a good story. Get up, stagger downstairs to make breakfast and lunch for Grumpy Child #1. Convince GC#1 that yes, she has to go to school, no, I can't drive her, and yes, she has to let me give her a hug goodbye (in the privacy of my kitchen away from sight of anyone that might see) and that she has to also say goodbye to her father and sister. In between staggering and hugging, provide fashion advice when asked, but duck when she dislikes what I say.

7:15: Somehow manage to say goodbye to Grumpy Child #1 and good morning to Slightly Less Grumpy Child #2. Make breakfast and lunch for SLGC#2, convince her that yes, she has to go to school, no, she can't watch TV or play on the iPad until she's dressed, packed and ready for school. Get dressed while de-itchifying SLGC #2's clothes, convincing her that yes, these are the same clothes she was dying to have me buy at the store and fix her hair after she declares she hates it. Fantasize about "perfect life" of story characters.

8:00: Walk SLGC#2 to the bus, with the dog. Hug and kiss child, while trying not to feel badly that the dog gets a bigger farewell than I do. Plan revenge scene for next book.

8:07: Meet dog's boyfriend for a walk around the lake. Watch as dog's boyfriend tries to stick my dog's head in his mouth and pray it doesn't swallow. Race around lake in attempt to keep up with dog's boyfriend's owner, whose legs are much longer than mine. Refuse to climb hills. Hope the adrenaline will translate into really good writing.

9:15-3:00: Attempt to do multiple errands (while dodging endless construction and following detours created by city planners on crack), Bat Mitzvah planning, school volunteering, Temple volunteering, laundry, housecleaning. Oh, and find time to write. Preferably the sex scenes that are impossible to do with the children around. Market books, write blogs, respond to others' blogs so that they'll read mine. Realize that about half of what needs to get done today will not actually get done today. Add to tomorrow's list (which won't get done either).

3:00: Grumpy Child #1 returns from school, transformed into Moody Child #1. Attempt to keep up with mood swings while listening to her day, feeding her a snack and getting her organized for homework. Realize this is why I don't write YA.

3:20: Slightly Less Grumpy Child #2 returns from school. Not really transformed. Oy. But very hyper. Attempt to follow her around the house without getting motion sick while feeding her a snack, listening to her day and convincing her that homework must get done before TV, iPad or anything else.

4:00-7:00 (on most days): Shuttle any number of children to after school activities, while making sure those who are at home (if any) do homework. Try, unsuccessfully, to get left-at-home child to walk the dog (only to be told they have homework to do). Sigh as phone rings and talk to people who, by all that is holy, should know better than to call during these three hours of chaos. Hang up on telemarketers who have managed to avoid the Do Not Call List. Attempt to make dinner, amid calls of "Ew, I don't want that!"

7:00-9:30: Eat dinner while trying to maintain enough brain power to follow and engage in conversations with children and husband. Try not to explode when kids ask why I'm so tired. Deep breathing exercises during requests to stay up late, watch TV, not shower or skip remainder of homework, music practice or Bat Mitzvah practice (Lamaze comes in handy here).

9:30-11:00: Try to stay awake long enough to talk to husband, watch TV and find some semblance of self before crashing into bed and repeating the process the next day.

Someday, my children are going to find someone to marry and have kids of their own. I'm going to show them this schedule and ask what THEY do all day! And then I'm going to write a book and dedicate it to them, my inspiration. ;)


The last thing Valerie needs, after escaping an abusive marriage to an alcoholic and rebuilding her life, is a broody, secretive, standoffish man. But that's exactly what she gets when she becomes a makeup artist on the set of a hit sitcom and draws the attention of the series' star.

John Samuels hides a terrible past--a life of abuse and neglect. A successful acting career and the affection and support of cast, crew and friends, does nothing to convince him that he is anything other than an unlovable monster.

Will he learn that the life he's been living has been built on a lie or will he be doomed to repeat the sins of his father?


The square, plastic bottle crashed to the floor, the white cap skittered under a cabinet, and bisque-colored foundation splattered across the tile floor, where it made a Rorschach pattern within the large white squares. With a groan and a roll of her eyes, Valerie searched under the makeup table, found the errant cap, replaced it on the bottle, and returned the foundation to the tray. She grabbed a damp rag and wiped up the mess.

She looked at the shooting schedule and smiled as she ran her fingers down the smooth laminated page. Only three weeks into this job, she loved working as assistant make-up artist on "Oddballs," a Top-10 weekly TV sitcom. She double-checked her kit for the supplies she'd need that day. So engrossed in her work, she didn't notice her boss' purple-spiked head in the door of the make-up trailer, or the ever-present smell of hair gel that hovered around her, until Michelle called her name.

"Hey, Valerie, a bunch of us are going out after work. Wanna come?"

Flashes from her past competed with images from the present at the sudden voice and Valerie stiffened. She shook her head to clear the jumble of images.

"Where are you going?" She wiped the remains of the foundation on the short cotton apron over her turquoise shirt and faded denim jeans. Eyes closed, she inhaled. The thick weave of rough fabric scraped her fingers and anchored her in the present, despite her body's momentary lapse.

"Tico's for some drinks. There's about eight of us going. It'll be fun and you can meet some of the crew."

Valerie's hands shook and knocked into the plastic bottles on the tray. They clinked together as the tubes slid into the scissors and destroyed their recent orderliness. She kept her face down, eyes averted, as her cheeks heated and her palms became sweaty. She had dreaded this moment. If they'd been going anywhere but a bar, she'd have joined them, but she couldn't bring herself to go there. So, she had to perform a delicate bal-acing act. Somehow, she had to refuse this invitation, but leave open the possibility for others. Despite their different personal styles, she and Michelle had formed an instant bond. The last thing she wanted was to hurt their new friendship.

"I can't tonight. Thanks for asking though. Maybe another time." She took a deep breath and pasted on a smile.

"Hot date?" Michelle raised a perfectly plucked black eyebrow and grinned. Valerie grinned back. "Just with my laundry."

"You're turning me down for laundry? Come on, you can do that tomorrow."

Valerie shook her head. "I really can't tonight, Michelle. Next time."

Michelle muttered under her breath as she left. Valerie sighed as the door banged shut and left her alone with her memories.

* * * *

That night, after all the scenes had been shot, Valerie waited for everyone to leave. She didn't want to answer questions or receive pity.

She arranged and rearranged drawers and tools. The trailer contained three stations, each with its own make-up chair. A long table ran down one wall, with plenty of drawers for storage space. Well-lit mirrors hung above the table. Un-able to find anything else to do, and convinced by the silence that everyone had to have left, she took out her keys to lock up. She jumped as a knock sounded at the door, the trailer rattled, and a head peeked in.


"Oh, hi, John." She expelled a deep breath and willed her heart to slow its frantic beat. "Do you need something?"

"No." He entered and stood by the door. John Samuels played the lead. At almost six-foot three, he dwarfed the trailer and had to tip his head to fit. He folded his muscular arms across his chest and spread his feet apart. "Michelle told me you were not joining us tonight. I thought I would see if I could change your mind."

Valerie rolled her eyes. "She is persistent."

"You noticed." John's dark eyes twinkled. His mouth widened with a ghost of a smile. Valerie tried not to gasp.

He reminded her of a rugged cowboy--broad-shouldered, with a prominent brow, dark piercing eyes, high cheekbones, and a cleft chin. When he smiled, even a slight trace of one, his eyes looked like liquid velvet and his dimples twinkled like stars in the night sky. A five-o'clock shadow covered his cheeks. Her fingers itched to brush against their rough texture, to tease his mouth into a full-blown grin.

"So, what can I say to make you join us?"

As he leaned against the wall in well-fitting jeans and a T-shirt that left nothing to the imagination, Valerie's mind said, "Sleep with me." Heat crept up her neck, over her cheeks, and continued to the roots of her hair. A thin sheen of sweat dampened the space between her breasts. She felt the sudden urge to fan herself, like a damsel in distress in an old B-movie. Instead, she ignored her traitorous thoughts. Her balled fist pressed into her tight stomach.

"Tonight, not even chocolate will change my mind."

She didn't exactly lie. She had no intention of going to the bar, or of sleeping with him, no matter how her thoughts might try to sabotage her good intentions. She'd been fooled by surface finery before, and it had almost killed her. She wouldn't let it happen again.

"I will remember that," he promised. "But next time you will not get off so easy." His eyes bored into hers for a moment, and then he turned on his heel and left.

* * * *

True to his word, John arrived the following day pre-pared for battle. With a cursory knock on the door, he dangled a bag of M&Ms inside the trailer, but snatched it back be-fore she could grab them. "We are going out for pizza. I will pick you up in ten minutes." Before she could answer, he walked out.

Valerie shrugged as she finished her work. The new Val-eerie never allowed other people to make decisions for her, but she'd practically handed John a permission slip. And, he had M&M's. How could she refuse?

Ten minutes later, he returned, ushered her out the door and down the steps. Although he didn't touch her, she could imagine the warmth of his hand on the small of her back, and feel the gentle puff of his breath against her hair. The angle of his body steered her toward the others in the parking lot as if he had taken her by the hand and dragged her with him. An invisible electric charge pulled her. Or maybe it was his Dial-soap scent. That scent--soap and man--made her stomach flip flop. Her uncontrollable reaction to him disturbed her, especially since he appeared unaffected.

He remained silent, strode toward their meeting place, and studied his surroundings as if he expected someone to pop out of the shadows and yell, "Boo!"

Then she saw the brown bag of M&Ms sticking out of his white shirt pocket. Before he could stop her, she reached around and grabbed them, opened the bag and popped three in her mouth.

"Hey, those are mine!" He reached for the bag, but not fast enough to retrieve them.

"Not anymore." As she danced away from him, she stuck another handful in her mouth.

He brought his hand up to his heart, as if she had wounded him deeply, but the twinkle in his eye gave him away. Valerie had all she could do not to burst out laughing.

"You did not have to take them, you know. I was plan-nine to give them to you later." He pouted and his dark hair fell across his brow, but not before Valerie saw a flash of a smile turn the corners of his mouth up.

"Oh really? When?"

"After dinner, of course. I would not want to spoil your appetite."

As if that were possible. Valerie laughed again and John grunted, a deep hoarse sound that climbed from the pit of his stomach and thrust its way out his mouth.

"What's so funny?" Lara, from editing, asked as they joined the group of friends clustered outside the lot. All other conversation stopped as everyone waited for the answer.

John looked at Valerie and his ghost of a smile disappeared. He remained silent and backed up a pace, as if need-in to put distance between them now that there were others around. Lara rolled her eyes and walked on ahead as Valerie bent over and massaged the stitch in her side. She watched his feet walk away from her, listened to the crunch of gravel be-Neath his shoes as the warm, funny man disappeared.

"What, no laundry tonight?" taunted Michelle when Val-eerie looked up. She smirked and headed down the street with the rest of them as she stared at the broad expanse of John's back up ahead and wondered about John's sudden coldness. The connection she'd started to feel between them disappeared. He walked a pace or two in front of her, his back stiff, his arms held at his sides. With a shrug, she joined in the conversation around her and put John's odd behavior out of her mind.

Three blocks later, they approached a dark, noisy pub. Valerie's stomach clenched as the door opened and the smell of beer floated outside. Spots floated in front of her eyes and for a moment, she thought she would faint. Her throat con-stricter and she paused as she clamped her mouth shut against the bile that rose in her throat. She leaned against the cool brick wall and willed herself to breathe, even as the rough surface dug into her back. Her gaze darted down the crowded street, but before she had the chance to flee, John towered behind her.

"Don't back out on me now," he whispered. "I already gave you the M&Ms." His warm breath blew against her shoulder and she took a jagged breath.

She turned, grateful for the distraction, and stared at his massive chest. Rock-hard muscles confronted her beneath his black T-shirt and for a moment, the clink of glasses on the bar and the grainy smell of beer faded away. All she could see was his immense body; all she could smell was his fresh, soapy scent; all she could feel was his solid chest in her imagination. Imagination wasn't enough.

She lifted a trembling hand to touch him and he backed up just out of her reach. Blue eyes met gray and held for a moment. She swallowed, the gulp audible, and the spell broke. The sights, sounds, and smells rushed back to her. She ran her tongue across her lips, tasted the waxy flavor of her lipstick, and closed her eyes as she swayed.

John frowned and placed himself between her and the crowd at the bar. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched him nod to one or two people who smiled in recognition, but he remained at her side. Together, they walked across the sticky floor and past the loud band up front to their table in the back. He pulled out her chair and sat next to her, and she released a pent-up breath. She felt safe with him close to her. It's not a bar, she told herself. It's a restaurant that happens to serve drinks. She'd be fine.

John turned to her and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. He clasped his large hands together and looked into her eyes. He held her gaze and as she stared into his thunder-head-colored eyes, she relaxed. "So, how do you like things so far, Valerie?"


"Well, I actually meant at work, but here too."

Valerie blushed as she tried to focus on his words. "Oh, well, I love working on the show. I was a huge fan before I got the job, so it's amazing to be a part of it now." I sound like a babbling idiot.

John smiled. "What may I order for you?" He flagged down a big-bosomed, tight-shirted waitress with bright orange fingernails. She walked over, pen and pad ready. Every-one ordered beers. Valerie ordered a diet soda.

"Not ready to let loose yet, huh, Valerie?" asked Miguel, one of the crew, with a soft chuckle. Valerie smiled, but her cheeks felt as if they would crack and she looked away. John caught her eye and smiled at her. His unexpected warmth re-assured her almost as much as an arm around her shoulders.

She sat back and listened to the conversation at the table. All around her were people from work--Harry, the first AD; Ken, from production; Lara, and Tony, from wardrobe. Tina and Jeremy, John's costars, had joined them as well. She crossed her fingers and joined in.

The waitress returned with their drinks and took their orders. Her ballpoint pen scratched across her pad as each person ordered a personal pizza, but changed the sauce, type of crust, and combination of toppings.

When the waitress turned to her, Valerie ordered a mushroom pie and a house salad.

The waitress paused, expectantly. As the silence continued, she raised an overly tweezed eyebrow.

"Is that it?"

"Yes," Valerie answered.

"Are you sure?"

Valerie furrowed her brow. "Of course." With a shake of her head, the waitress turned to John. She asked for his autograph and after he scrawled his name across a napkin, gave her his order, also simple but large--two personal pepperoni pizzas. During the course of the evening, John kept an eye on Valerie, made sure her drink never ran out, and that she par-tic pated in the conversation. When talk turned to something unfamiliar, he filled her in.

When they finally left, the muggy night air wrapped around Valerie like a cocoon and muffled the smells and sounds from inside. She stretched her spine and threw her shoulders back as she inhaled deeply for the first time all evening. John fell into step next to her and offered to walk her back to her car.

"Are you sure you don't mind?" she asked, as they crossed the street.

"No one should walk by themselves at night."

"Thanks, that's really nice of you." Although they walked next to each other, John left plenty of space between them. In spite of that, his size made her feel smaller than her five foot six frame. He didn't intimidate her, and she peered sideways at him as she considered her lack of fear. Maybe because of the physical distance he maintained around her--he couldn't hurt her if he were far away--or maybe his manners and the careful way he spoke put her at ease. Whatever the reason, she felt as comfortable walking with him as she would have with Michelle.

"Here's my car." She pointed to a blue Honda Civic parked under a lamp. "Thanks again for walking me out."

"See you tomorrow." He waited, hands deep in his pockets, feet spread apart, while she started the engine. He watched her wave and pull away. Something about her intrigued him--more than just her mysterious nerves or her simple pizza order, although those things contributed to it. She didn't behave like the typical LA actor crowd who usually surrounded him. Her vulnerability aroused his protective nature. Not that she'd asked for his protection. She'd never ask him to take care of her, no one would. But still...


When I was a little girl and couldn't fall asleep, my mother would tell me to make up a story. Pretty soon, my head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Each character had a specific personality, a list of likes and dislikes, and sometimes, even a specific accent or dialect. Even as an adult, I think about the characters and stories at night before I fall asleep, or in the car on my way to or from one of my daughters' numerous activities (hey, anything that will drown out their music is a good thing).

One day, I started writing them down (it was either that or checking into the local mental hospital--the computer was way less scary) and five years later, I've gotten two book contracts from Whiskey Creek Press. A Heart of Little Faith came out in June; Skin Deep is coming out in November.

In the real world, I'm the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men I know. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, traveling and watching TV. In between chauffeuring my daughters to after-school activities that require an Excel spreadsheet to be kept straight, I serve on our Temple Board, train the dog we adopted from a local shelter, and cook dinners that fit the needs of four very different appetites. I also write freelance articles for magazines, newspapers, and edit newsletters.

When all of that gets overwhelming, I retreat to my computer, where I write stories that let me escape from reality. In my made-up world, the heroines are always smart, sassy and independent. The heroes are handsome and strong with just a touch of vulnerability. If I don't like a character, I can delete him or her; if something doesn't work, I can rewrite it. It's very satisfying to be in control of at least one part of my life. My inspiration comes from watching the people around me and fantasizing about how I'd do things differently.

I can be reached at or My blog (Fried Oreos) is and I contribute to Heroines With Hearts at My books can be purchased through Whiskey Creek Press or via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Too Big, The Too Little, and the "Aahh" Just Right

The other day, I ran across a link to a blog on Twitter about the average size of penises around the world. (I don't remember the blog nor the person who tweeted it, but I found the map again.) I had to check it out because, well, this could only be amusing, right? And it is. There are some places where I might avoid having intercourse with a native. Er, or, armed with this information, I would choose not to were I single. I am not, so I don't have to worry about making that decision. (g) That being said, this is rather enlightening and kind of funny.

Before you go off half-cocked (pun intended), remember when you are looking at the color chart it is in centimeters, not inches. Were it inches, I'd never visit some of those places without wearing a chastity belt, 'cause that thing isn't getting anywhere near me. (g)

Americans are closer to the smaller end of the spectrum. Lowering, but logical. I mean, we have a lot of immigrants from all over the world, right? (g) That's bound to bring the average size down...maybe. If it makes the men feel better, we can say that. Some claim dicks are shorter after circumcision. That is possible. (g)

The Asians (as in continent, including India) have the smallest. (South Korea "weighing" in at 3.8".) The largest? You can find that out for yourself. (g)

In case you missed it, here is the link again:

When I first saw this compilation, I was a bit surprised. I don't know why. I mean, men are so fascinated with all things penis and a bit fixated on the size of their penises, that it's not that surprising there have been numerous studies conducted all over the world and someone then took the time to compile all of that information to create this map for our entertainment, er, edification. You have to wonder how many penises were measured to get what they considered enough to term "average." I could probably dig deeper to find out, but do I care that much? No.(g) If you do, please do the research and let us know. (g)

To be fair, some of the data is old, so it's possible the average sizes have changed (up or down). It also doesn't state whether this is at attention or flaccid. (If it's flaccid, God help those women in the 8" areas. Eep!) Or if measured during the summer or winter, as temperature certainly affects size.

Now, this got me to wondering if any studies had been done to find out about the average depth of a woman's pleasure palace. This would be a bit more difficult to do, as we are innies instead of outies, and I don't know very many women who'd agree to having a ruler stuck up there, myself included. (g) Not surprisingly, I couldn't find one, but I did find something else. What could it be? Hm... what else are men fascinated with? Women's breasts. (I have had men tell me that if they had breasts, they would play with them all day. O.o It's a good thing women have them then, isn't it. g) Apparently, American women fare better than their male counterparts when it comes to size. The average cup size is D. I, obviously, was skipped and am part of the group that keeps the US from having the largest breast size. (g)

For the entire "study" on breast size around the world, here's the link:

I wonder how many women don't wear bras at all because they can't find any that fit. Now, that would be a useful study.

Now that I have armed you with this information, are there any countries you might consider visiting more or less? Or does it make a difference? If you do visit the country, will you be staring at the men's crotch wondering if their package is average?

I will refrain from asking you which "country" appeals to you the most, as that is private information. However, you can certainly decide which one would be the best "fit" for you without sharing. (g) I know I have. (g)

Addendum: Apparently, there are studies out there about the average depth of a woman's vagina, but there is none as not only do they vary from woman to woman, but also the size changes with experience and other factors. So, as is typical for women, it's much more complicated than measure a man's penis.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Thanksgiving with a Twist

by Valerie Mann

I'll admit it...I'm always looking for the funny and romantic in my day-to-day dealings, because I write romantic fiction and need fodder for Ms. Muse. I also edit erotic romance and let me tell you, some of the stuff I edit curls my hair, right along with my toes. I found out just how much I've learned about the erotic world we live in when I recently had to edumacate my niece on the difference between menage and polyamory relationships. I don't think she understood the distinction, nor did she truly care since she's expecting a proposal and a big, fat diamond very soon from a super-hunky former Marine. Sharing him with anyone else is so not on her radar. But I digress...
Today is Thanksgiving here in the United States. For you readers not of the US American persuasion, Thanksgiving is a holiday where we use history as an excuse for gluttony in its many, sports and shopping. Turkey being the main food ingredient, American football the sport ingredient and Best Buy (at least  for me) being the shopping ingredient. Add salt and pepper to taste. M-m-m good.
So...I'd like to bring some humor into our Thanksgiving tradition, putting an erotic twist on the translation. Hopefully, these pictures will give you a lift and keep the stress away. Or maybe this blog will help the turkey and stuffing put you into a cozy stupor for a much-needed rest before you hit the stores on Black Friday. 

See you at Best Buy! 
~A BDSM Thanksgiving Dinner~
Bondage style 

~GLBT Thanksgiving Romance ~
Tom Turkey crushes on Peter Pilgrim
~Sci-Fi  Thanksgiving Romance~
Alien Poultry
~A Rubenesque Thanksgiving Romance~

~Military Thanksgiving Romance~
(featuring Captain Tom Turkey )

~An Interracial Thanksgiving Romance~
Have a wonderful, Romantic Thanksgiving  Day, 
no matter how you choose to celebrate it!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Racing the Clock...& the Holiday!

This is my week to blog, but I have a big deadline looming in a few short days and I'm hosting Thanksgiving in my home for up to twelve people. The hubby is baking the turkey, but I have the rest of the dinner to plan/make and I still have to meet that deadline and clean the house.

One of the other 4SW might post this week, so please stop back.

Until next I snark, quip, or rant here, I leave you a cute cartoon and an easy contest for the avid reader.

I wish everyone who observes the U.S. Thanksgiving a beautiful holiday and many blessings!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

When Cougars Attack: Acknowledging & Adapting to Limits

Hi all, please allow me to introduce myself before I get too far into this. I’m Becca Dale, and I write and edit steamy to erotic romance. My children (22 and almost 21) are aware Mom writes romance, but they are blissfully ignorant of the heat level as they have no interest in the genre, which is fine by me. I really don’t want them to know the things that flirt, bump, or grind through their mother’s mind. However, they seem to have no problem sharing things with me. Which brings me to today’s topic. I have read some pretty hot cougar romances and have even written one; however, a recent conversation with my son has brought a question to mind: are erotic authors creating fantasies that real women should be cautious in fulfilling?

I’m all for fun in whatever package it arrives. As long as it is consensual, go for it. However, at twenty-two my son, an attractive, dark-haired man with a preference for dress clothes over jeans, tends to attract older women. Now, by this I do not mean those five to fifteen years his senior, though he gets attention from them, as well. I mean double to triple his age. Last Saturday he was hit on by five different women ranging in age from mid forties to early eighties. I tried to tell him they just thought he was cute—like a son or grandson—until he shared the things they said.

Nope—no motherly or grandmotherly feelings there.

The poor kid was at a loss on how to react. He has always been taught to be respectful of his elders, but what should he say when someone his mother’s age offers to teach him things he has only imagined? Or a woman older than his nana asks if he’d like her to demonstrate how flexible she still is? He was downtown with several other young people, so not quite sure how he wound up talking to these women, but his friends’ explicit ribbing confirmed he had not imagined the situation after a few too many beers.

Despite how heartwarming it was to hear he had been polite and sweet and even a little flirty to save their feelings, images I did not want flooded my head and made me generally concerned for these women. What if he had taken them up on the deal? So here is a chart on how to address and adjust to very real issues for anyone engaging in a cougarish situation with a young man barely over the age of majority.




You do not want to be pregnant and afraid.
Buy condoms in bulk. Recovery time may be shorter than you remember.

Massage Therapy is expensive.
Stretch well before playing.

Your granddaughter may have dated the target.
Consider hunting in a different state or country - I hear Frenchmen are Fabulous!

Your knees may not hold out.
Avoid Doggie Style.

Certain positions could break a hip.
DO NOT - under any circumstances - allow the kitten to throw your legs over his shoulders.

Remember, Medicare is not designed to pay for sexual injuries, ladies, so approach kittens with caution. However, if you Acknowledge your potential limitations and Adapt accordingly, you should be fine. On a more personal note, if you succeed in seducing my son, I don’t want to know about it.

Born and raised in rural South Dakota, Becca Dale represents the girl next door personified. The open prairies and quiet, pine-covered hills of the Upper Midwest feed her creativity and keep her work grounded in reality while the stoic can-do attitude and twisted sarcasm of her family and friends provide endless inspiration. A farmer’s daughter, an engineer’s wife, and a high school teacher, she brings a hint of the common woman to her writing. Although her characters, especially the paranormal ones, sometimes reflect the ordinary on steroids, there remains a sense of reality.

As a multi-published author Becca strives to walk the line of romantic erotica—venturing into the wild while never forgetting that the main focus should always be love.  Her work has received top reviews world wide, and she loves to hear from fans and critics alike. Contact her on Facebook or Twitter or visit her blog at