Friday, 28 January 2011

Our Genre--Erotica

Please welcome Liz Crowe to Four Strong Women!


Greetings Strong Women and Those Who Follow Them!

I’m a big fan of Salon.com and in particular of Tracy Clark Flory, a writer who thinks like I do as relates to the human sexual condition. She’s written about the science of the smooch, the Miley Cyrus pole dance, Betty Friedan actually saving marriages, how UNsexy is virtual sex, the economics of simple romance and, most recently how we as a culture are still embarrassed by pornography.

This most recent post got me pondering once again about what I like to think of as Our Genre--erotica. Our Genre has been called (among other things) “porn for women.” However “pornography” as I see it defined is anything depicting the human body or human sexuality with the express goal of “arousal.” So..... “porn for women” seems a bit, I don’t know, redundant? Unnecessary compartmentalization or, dare I say, sexist?

It is commonly assumed and accepted that men are aroused by visual representations of sexual situations while women tend to be titillated by something that requires a little imagination (in other words, written, so you are forced to picture the people in your head).

So he watches porn, and I read it, and we work through our respective “arousal goals” together. That’s cool. Just as long as we ladies will own up to the fact that we can actually enjoy our version of “porn” (a.k.a. Our Genre) and not get all squidgy and embarrassed and, well, girly about it.

Flory alleges through a series of admittedly unscientific random polling, that women still are “in denial” about their partners’ porn consumption. To these women I say, “What are YOU waiting for, ‘cause you have no idea what you are missing!”

Seriously.

An entire world of porn in well-written form exists for your consumption and fun!

Welcome to Erotica World! A land where men are men and women love to touch them! Or, in many cases both of them.

I write it, I consume it, I’ve been asked to offer reviews of it, and to anyone who asks, “really, how many ways can you effectively describe the sex act?” I say, “Oh, lots and lots and if you think otherwise, you need to broaden your literary horizons.”

Of course, I would enter the erotic market at the sweet spot, when everybody and their sister (mostly) think they’ve got the next great Urban Vampire Sex Novel (and believe me there are ton of these--even enough to generate a lively discussion at one writer’s group I belong to on the relative realities of vampire ejaculate--yeah, ick), or the Seriously Sexy Cowboy Series (these are STILL best sellers and yes, there is one called Rode Hard Put Up Wet) or even the Fornicating Faeries and Shagging Unicorns of Fantasy...these, to my mind are much easier to create since there are absolutely no limits to what THEY can do, sexually speaking. If you can imagine it they will come...or something like that.

There truly is something for everyone and every taste. When I jumped in with my “Beerotica” (actually Brewing Passion or, in the immortal words of a fellow brewery owner--”Beer Porn”) series I was entering a highly populated, very competitive field littered with Alpha Males, moans, groans, tingly skin and smoldering stares.

As a consumer, I cut my teeth on Sunny’s “Monere” series--wherein the woman rules the world, and the respective alpha men are chosen to attend and protect her essentially based on their ability to fuck her silly. Sign me up!

Moving on through the canon as it were I have eagerly consumed the “reluctant sub” tales well-woven by Shayla Black, and into the M/M/F fantasy land of Cat Grant. While I have to admit a fondness for the short form “quickie” anthologies (anyone who can make you honestly horny in 2 pages or less is truly talented) I also have argued that the best books are the ones where the sex isn’t THE story, merely a natural part of it. I describe it thus to my own workaday girl friends who have offered my best critiques: “I write stories about real people in real situations and just don’t fade to black when they get busy.”

And they get busy a lot, too. Because it is all fantasy in a way, and I for one don’t kid myself about it. The men are large and in charge, the women may be in charge but they love that man (or men--I’m currently on a M/F/M kick and loving it!) and are generally NOT large--you get where this is going. We want to be entertained, and enter a world where we might could just picture ourselves as younger, thinner, sexier, and in situations where the hottest guy (or girl, if that’s your bag) in the office/gym/club/conference/briefing room/vampire nest/dive bar/werewolf pack/wizard school/brewery wants nothing more than to bang our brains out with their ultra talented body parts, then either fall madly deeply in love with us or walk away satisfied and best of friends. The only thing separating us from the Soaps perhaps is a distinct lack of cars driving off cliffs and hospital bedside dramatics…but enough of that. As I said before: “Sign Me Up!”

There is a lot of junk “lady porn” out there, of course. Frankly, the last four books I read were boring and formulaic. Or worse, badly constructed, with (really) typos and in general poorly edited (or not at all). Just because you can picture the hot scene with your personal trainer in your head while he’s rubbing you down after a workout doesn’t always translate onto the page--in other words, some folks truly should be consumers only. Hey, if it weren’t for you, WE would have no real outlet after all.

And so to those poor repressed females among us, and to their long-suffering significant others looking over their collective shoulders so as not to get caught whacking off to fetishes.com, I advise: get online and find us. We have the solution to your frustrations--whether it’s vamps, ghouls, cops, robbers, cowboys, Indians, wizards, warlocks, gargoyles (yes, I read one of these just for research you understand) firemen, Alpha Male CEOs or just plain old folks getting up to no good in the brew house or cold storage—We are out here and waiting to relieve YOU!

Cheers

Drink Craft Beer!

Liz Crowe

The Rookie

XXXMas Ale

Jockey Box (release date: 2/18/11)

The Tap Room (release date: 4/18/11)

All from www.breathlesspress.com

www.a2beerwench.com

www.aabedwench.blogspot.com

Who Is This Liz Crowe?

When not marketing her brewery, tearing her hair out over beer inventory problems, having friendly arguments with Her Brewer about beer names, learning even more about brewing beer or ogling her kid’s soccer coaches, Liz writes. This latest iteration of Liz comes after fifteen years in marketing and public relations and seven years of expatriate living with her family. As “The Ann Arbor Beer Wench” Liz blogs (www.a2beerwench.com), runs her Tap Room on Ann Arbor’s west side, directs sales marketing and the ever-popular distributor relations for The Wolverine State Brewing Company, a craft micro brewery. As “The Bed Wench” Liz blogs (www.aabedwench.blogspot.com) and relates her thoughts about various aspects of the human animal and his/her sexual nature. Liz has two stories published (The Rookie and XXXMas Ale), and 2 more set for release. “Jockey Box” is due out February 18, 2011 which is the final “missing chapter” of the Novella The Tap Room, due out April 18, 2011 (a great way to celebrate that your taxes are done!) All of the stories are part of a bigger “Brewing Passion” series about people in the craft beer industry and the various shenanigans they get up to. Her current Work in Progress is a murder mystery set in the craft brewing world, with the naughty bits left in, of course and the Manuscript in Constant Revision will soon be published--a series about realtors--and the fun that can be had in an empty condo or Open House with a view. For fun, Liz reads in her favorite genre (erotic fiction), sweats like mad in Bikram yoga three times a week, conducts market research (i.e. drinks craft beer), and carefully observes her kid’s soccer coaches and Real Madrid, her favorite team.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Pubic Hairstyles

Sharon Noble, an author of contemporary erotica, is our guest today. Her latest is Velvet and Topaz, a contemporary erotic ebook, released on January 18th. You can find it here.

So, Tuesday I discussed our hair limit, but apparently, I missed a very important part of the human body where there is hair. Sharon has graciously agreed to, ahem, cover this neglected part in this post. Yes, my husband has asked me to go bare or get a landing strip. My response: Only if you get yours waxed, too. (g) Needless to say, it isn't going to happen. (g)

Thank you, Sharon, for helping me out with this missed portion of the body and coming to visit us today. (g)

Thanks, Marci, for the opportunity to talk about a topic that, not surprisingly in my household, came up at the dinner table last Thanksgiving. We had a mixed group of about 10 sitting around after devouring a turkey, just having coffee and talking aimlessly. When the topic of pubic hairstyles came up, I came to attention and gave it my full focus. I'm always willing to learn something new. I didn't actually provide any input because to do so would have exposed my lack of knowledge in the sophisticated nuances surrounding the subject. I've been writing about people who don't barber their bodies, but, since I write contemporary romances, perhaps I should know something about what's out there. I haven't taken a lot of notice of this aspect of sexuality. Am I hopelessly out of date? I always thought pubic hair was nature's way of decorating out bodies, just like the hair on the rest of our bodies, but clearly not everyone agrees.

For those of you who write period romances, it probably doesn't enter the picture at all. But my guests talked about preferences for no body hair at all – ghastly in my opinion. Apparently some men shave off every single hair on their bodies except for eyebrows and head. Repulsive to me, but attractive to some women (I guess). Apparently women are shaving their vulvas in any number of inventive designs, taking their lead from the popular porno stars. And those piercings have to hurt. Although, if my vulva were bare, I'd probably glue a ruby on it somewhere – just for the hell of it.

So do any of you write about vulvas who have been treated to a Brazilian wax job? Do your heroes prefer vulvas naked, shaved to a landing strip, decorated, dyed some designer color, or au natural? Of course, it depends on the context. A female scientist working in the Amazon jungle isn't going to have the same aesthetic as a movie star who does naked scenes, so I get that. But do we need to address what seems to be a new aesthetic with wide preferences? Are they having fun or setting a new standard for pubic hair? I admit I've had the impulse to dye mine orange at Halloween, but I stifled that impulse out of consideration for the delicate skin underneath. Who would have ever thought we'd be considering hairdos for an area of the body that has heretofore been considered beautiful “as is.”

Then there's the topic of the merkin (hairpiece) for those who have scanty pubic hair. Yes, ladies, they do exist. My oldest daughter is a wig maker for film, TV, and stage, and she recently made a fluffy merkin for an actress who had a naked scene but didn't want her own privates exposed. My guess is that she didn't have pretty pubes. Those of you who write period romances probably know more about this than I do. Apparently merkins have been around for hundreds of years. Do you write about them in your novels? Is this a topic that might inject a sense of fun into a romance novel? I didn't ask my daughter where she got the hair to put in the merkin. I didn't want to hear the answer.

~ ~ ~

A little portion of the blurb from Velvet and Topaz:

When Caroline Benning's husband of 18 years divorces her on the eve of her 40th birthday, she is devastated. To boost her spirits, best friend Marjory treats Caroline to a month-long trip to England where they can indulge their long-held passion for Tudor history. History comes alive when the friends visit Hampton Court Palace, mingling with costumed reenactors populating the palace and the grounds, and they are virtually transported to 16th Century England and the court of Henry VIII.

One man in particular, a dark, bearded cavalier in black leather and velvet moves Caroline to unexpected sexual longing - so much so that she returns alone the next day just to see him again. In a shadowed closet adjacent to one of the bedrooms, they make love unlike anything she has ever experienced...

Read more.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Miss America, the mediocre beauty and talent contest


I can remember when I was child just how exciting watching the Miss America pageant was. (Of course, a lot of things excited me as a child that don't any more. Eg. Sean Cassidy, Mark Hamel, McDonalds. grin) I didn't follow it per se, but when it was on, we certainly watched it. Perhaps my parents thought it was lame. Well, I do remember my dad and mom making commentary and often disagreeing with the judges about who went through. There weren't a lot of options as far as what to watch back then, but still it was a big deal. I hadn't watched one in years until a few weeks ago.

Now I know why.

When did it become so lame? Remember when the young women were actually pretty and less, um, plastic? Remember when they didn't have past winners talking about their high heel shoes and plugging the sponsor? (And the Miss America shoe line is ghastly! You'd have to kill me to get a pair of those on me. Even then, my corpse might spontaneously combust in protest. Of course, I'm not a fan of high heels, but I can admire well-designed shoes. But I digress...) Seriously, remember when the contestants could choose their bathing suits? Something must have happened because now they don't have any options, really. Just a few choices between one black bikini and another. No personality. Pretty soon, the contestants blurred into the same person with varying skin tones and hair color. Even those differences didn't make it any easier to tell them apart.

There was one--Miss Delaware--who had lost her hair when she was very young, so she wore a wig all of the time, except when she was home. At home, she just liked to sit around with her family with her wig off. I know this because they showed us a video of her doing it, and she played that bald card as long as she could. Now, I admit that it's great she hasn't let something like this keep her from pursuing her dreams, but, honestly, had I heard about her hairless state one more time, I would have puked. She made it all the way to the talent round where the judges cut her. Thank God! She had on en pointe shoes and proceeded to cavort about the stage like a three-year-old child pretending to do ballet for the first time. It was...pathetic.

Another of the contestants chose to sing Nessun dorma. For those of you unfamiliar with Nessun dorma, it is a very famous Puccini tenor aria from Turandot. It's glorious when sung by a tenor. Not so much by a soprano. She should fire whoever advised her to sing that. Any voice coach with a shred of knowledge would have given her something else. I am sure they just pulled it out of a "famous aria" book. One word: painful.

Only Miss Arkansas had any talent, and she didn't win. She was first runner-up and was a decent ventriloquist, yodeling with her mouth closed. The seventeen-year-old who did win played the piano. Eh, she was okay, but kind of sloppy. Honestly, for that level of competition, I expected more from all of them.

The funniest part of the competition came during the evening gown section. The gowns were what one would expect to see, some more flattering than others. No, no one tripped, although that would have been somewhat funny, if humiliating. No, instead, little bubbles popped up on the screen with information about the contestant as she promenaded across the stage. For instance, Miss Hawaii ate termites in Uganda and is a princess in a small Cameroon village. (HAHAHAHAHAHA) Another contestant once saved a child while on lifeguard duty. (Really? You didn't save an entire family and their beloved pet hamster, Roxie? Only one child. How disappointing!)

Charlie and I were cracking up at these bubbles. Can you guess what Miss Delaware's bubble would say? Perhaps something like: Once in an emergency situation, I used my wig to stamp out a fire and saved our family farm. (Okay, I'm being cruel, but I'm not too far off the mark, and it did mention something about milking a cow on the farm while getting a manicure. Okay, not the manicure thingy, but it was that ridiculous.) I don't know who came up with the idea, but, um, they need to nix it and fast. It pushed the competition past lame and into farcical.

Now that I've dissed on the Miss America Pageant organization, I do have one good thing to say: they provide more scholarship money to young women than any other. The winner is awarded not just the crown, but a $100,000 scholarship. I'm not sure what the runner-ups get, but it's a goodly sum as well. And all of those pageants leading up to this one also award something like $5,000 for the local ones and $25,000 for the state level. (Perhaps more, I really don't know.) I knew someone who competed in them. They helped pay for her education. So, that's good, but--and this is a big "but"--somehow, this whole franchise needs to change. If they are going to be a beauty pageant, don't pretend to be something else. Require real talent, real beauty (not breast implants--there were a lot of those and also a pair of saggy breasts in a twenty-year-old. Where did that come from?), and poise. Either don't change it, or change it completely because this in the middle isn't working.

So, did any of you see it? Do any of you care? Am I just ranting to myself? (g) It wouldn't be the first time I did that. (g)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

What's your hair limit?

I swim some three to four days a week. There are some hot guys at the pool. And there are some not so hot guys at the pool. Of course, you will also see a variety of hair, er, styles on different body types. The older men, you really can't say much about. I can only give them props, really, for showing up at all. (I am no stellar specimen of a woman, certainly no top model, but I am entitled to my opinion, especially when it comes to body hair. Grin)

Me, I like some hair on a man's chest. Tom Selleck did that very nicely. (So does my husband. Yum!)


It has to be just enough to run my fingers through, but not so much that I feel like I'm petting Sasquatch. No sasquatches please! And I've seen my share of sasquatches. There are a few at the pool. You know the ones with a pelt on their chest and one on their back to match. (Eep!) Yeah, I'll pass.

Once while at Laguna Seca, I saw this man walking toward me. His skin glistened blue-white through his fiery red hair. Hair that was everywhere. From his ankles, up his tree trunk legs, most likely under those teeny, overly tight tennis shorts, over the shirtless, huge man belly, on his bearded face, and down his back. It was a pelt. Although I didn't look much closer than that, I am sure he had some on his knuckles, too. It was shudder inducing, and the image is forever embedded in my mind. Maybe you can imagine it, too. (Evil grin) Some two hours later, the same guy's skin was no longer blue-white, but bright red to match his hair. The skin color change did not increase his appeal.

However, I'm not big on a prepubescent-esque nude chest that was all of the rage for years either. I mean, if the man is naturally hairless, that's one thing, but to shave/wax to get that desired state. No. My first boyfriend in high school had that bare chest. (Think Beckham-like body, only slightly buffer but not body builder. He was a swimmer.) I was okay with it. (grin)

Now, my craving for that little bit of hair on a man's chest does not extend to a man's face. Maybe because my father was clean-shaven, I have never been attracted to men with any hair on their face. (Well, Tom Selleck aside. His mustache suited him quite nicely. grin) I want to see my man's face, and I don't want to feel like I am kissing a caterpillar with God knows what still stuck in its fur. (If I want leftovers, I'll get them from the fridge, thank you very much!) I apologize in advance for this next picture, but I couldn't resist. I would never date a man with this on his face:

Some men do look better with a bit of fur. One of my childhood friends had a stepfather who shaved his mustache once. With the mustache, he was unattractive (at least, I thought so.) Without the mustache, he made a melodrama villain look positively angelic. He had this long, narrow face with beady eyes. The mustache hid just how long and narrow (and unattractive) he really was. His wife was absolutely beautiful. Whatever attracted her to him mystified me.

And God help the Grizzly Adams men. That was a cool show, and he was a cool mountain man, but I ain't datin' him, kissin' him, or doin' anything else with him, for that matter. He'll have to settle for the bear. If my husband ever went Grizzly on me, he'd be sleeping on the couch.

Oh, and that mustache with the goatie thing some men do? It looks like a butt hole. Some people might like kissing butt holes, but count me out. I've never been an ass kisser, and I'm not going to start now. Brad Pitt can't even pull it off for me. Sorry, Brad, I guess you are stuck with Angelina. (grin)

So, what's your hair limit?

Monday, 24 January 2011

Hoarding

How does it happen? How do we get piles of crap? Even if it's tiny piles, it's still crap. No matter the size of the pile, it still stinks. When did we decide we needed that much crap? It just boggles my mind that we do. And all of us seem to do it, even if it's on a small scale.

There are those who are much worse, though. Yesterday, I was watching that show "Buried Alive: Hoarders." I'm looking at these people's homes and thinking, "This looks familiar."

No, my house isn't covered in crap. My daughter's room, though, looks like a toy store and a recycling bag blew up in it. Is it just me, or do children seem to hoard?

My daughter comes home with two to three pieces of homework four nights a week. (She's only in first grade. That's a completely different rant.) If I let her, she would keep every single piece of homework. Our house is small, but even if we lived in a friggin' mansion, where the hell would we keep all of that paper?

But it doesn't end with paper. Paper is only the beginning. Grandma used to take her once a week to McDonald's, and she would get a Happy MealTM. You know what kind of shitty toys they put in those Happy MealsTM. Crap made in China that probably has lead in it, right? So, every week, she'd come home with one of those stupid toys, and the only way to get rid of them was to wait until she was out of the house and to surreptitiously recycle them.

Not only are those things crap, they are ugly and, sometimes, they stink. I remember one that was a Strawberry Shortcake advertisement. I don't remember the character beyond the fact that she smelled chemically sweet. For some reason, children seem to love this. God knows, I don't. That toy stayed in her room for nearly a year. When I found it one day in one of the piles, I palmed it and passed it off to my husband to recycle. She never knew. She has so much stuff she doesn't even miss it.

And then there're the cheap toys/party favors that come with every birthday party we attend. Parents, my child does not need a bag full of shit to bring home. If you would just let your child open the presents while the other kids were there, these stupid bags wouldn't be necessary. Matter of fact, I think these bags send the wrong message. Whenever I see these bags, I grit my teeth, as do all of the other parents. So, why are you giving them out? Nobody wants them, I've stopped doing it, and... this is a topic that deserves its own day. I will stop now before I burst a vein.

But it is a challenge. Her grandmothers like to buy her things: books, toys, clothes, etc. I finally had to tell them to stop. I do appreciate it, but we are being overrun with things. I am not Aaron Spelling with a Beverly Hills mansion. I don't have a room just for dolls. I don't want a room just for dolls.

On top of this, her school has been teaching about recycling and reusing trash as art or using it to create something else. Well, that's all fine and dandy, but we are not saving that plastic bottle for an art project. Nor are we going to keep that small plastic container for, I don't know, but we aren't keeping it. No, we are putting it in the recycle bin. Okay? That's what the recycle bin is for. I am not going to fill my house up with trash. And if you're school thinks this is such a great idea, I suggest we take all of the trash to them and let them find uses for it.

I do hoard a little bit, too. I admit it. I have a few things I cannot part with: my costumes from when I used to portray historical women, my wedding dress, sheet music, reference books, and the like. I won't ever be able to wear those costumes again unless I lose fifteen pounds, that is. I just can't see that happening. Toothpick was fine at one time, but not any more. (Not to mention that after childbirth, my hips and ribs will never be the same size, unless they are trimmed.) I won't ever wear my wedding dress, but I hope to give it to my daughter some day. I do pull out the sheet music and read it on occasion, and my reference books are frequently, well, referenced. There are some clothes I could probably part with, though. Perhaps later today when I'm done working, I'll start cleaning.

Now, after watching that show yesterday, I was galvanized to clean. Clean that pile of paper off of my dining room table. Clean the coffee table. Clean everything in sight. It's an eye opener. Many of these people could have very well started with a small pile. All of them turned into massive hoarders. I have no intention becoming one of them.

Ever.

And how can I teach my daughter to get rid of stuff if I don't. Of course, when I clean, she's inspired to do so, but usually with my stuff. She'll pick something out and say, "Mommy, you could give this away, too."

"Except I wear that shirt all of the time. Why don't you look at your own stuff, huh? You're room is a mess."

(grin)

And yet it doesn't happen. Her room is obviously still a mess.

Somehow, I think her idea is to clean all of my stuff out of the house so she can fill it up with hers. I mean, hasn't she already tried to leave her toys in my bedroom, the dining room, the living room, the bathroom, the...

Do we really need that much stuff? Yeah, um, no.

So, am I the only one with a hoarding child? And if not, how do you deal with that type of behavior?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Vanishing Stuff & Not My Stuff!


When I wander through my house and see the amount of stuff that’s mixed in with my stuff, or find my stuff moved to parts of the house where it should not be, I get a li’l hot under the collar.

What is it with kids who think if it belongs to Mom then it’s fair game? And why do kids believe that your designated “mom” areas are they’re areas to store their stuff?

We have a five-bedroom home. There’s plenty of freaking room for their stuff!

I walked into my upstairs office this morning and took a gander at all the shit on the floor that was NOT mine.

Baby walker

NASCAR Storybook

Musical keyboard

A pair of jeans

A teether

A bouncy seat

The toy gizmo that hangs over the bouncy seat

A folder full of graded papers.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. My desktop has someone else’s crap all over it too.

Used tissues (eew!)

A baby monitor

A notebook

Dry erase pen from the refrigerator

One Silly Band in the shape of a castle

And what irks me to no end is that I have stuff that I use for my writing and everyone else thinks it’s there for their use too.

NOOOOOOOO!

If I buy a pack of nice pens, they’ll vanish faster than a chocolate fudge cake at a Weight Watchers convention. It never fails!

I just opened a pack of Sticky Notes designed for editing and for marking places in journals and notebooks. What do I find when I sit down at my desk? Notes scribbled on them by my youngest dau who thought she’d be cute.

I just purchased a pack of Sharpie Ultra Fine Markers to use for my notes and editing. One day I sat here and noticed half of them are gone and the pink one, although missing, has no cap on it. The cap is lying on my desktop!

Bought a four-pack of highlighters. Two have vanished.

I’m sorry, but messing with my stuff or putting stuff in my domain that is NOT mine pisses me off to no end!

So, I walk in my bedroom and there are baby clothes on the floor. I found Christmas ribbon that was never put away (belongs in the upstairs closet) when someone wrapped gifts in my room.

If I want to find something, all I have to do is go to one of my kids’ rooms and ask them what they did with such and such. It usually materializes out of their stuff. But it’s not their stuff. It’s my stuff!

And do I scream and bitch at them about this stuff issue? HELL YEAH!

But it does no good. What the heck do I have to do to get others to respect my belongings, my room and my office???

Ask me to borrow something, but don’t just take it and not return it. I don’t go into my daughters’ make-up cases and help myself nor do I take one of my son’s Hot Wheels so I can play with it while I wait at the doctor’s office.

If I could hotwire my desk, books and belongings, I would. Touch it and ZAP! Then again if I did that, it would sound like I had a bug zapper upstairs!

The only thing they do not bother is my new laptop. It is the Holy Grail. Touch it and there will be body parts all over the house. Period.

Surely I’m not the only parent who has this problem with stuff?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Red Alert! Panic Mode!


Allow me to whine, pass me the cheese, and then share with me your woes, because I know we all suffer this horrible feeling from time to time. It’s something I’m going to rant about just to make me feel better. As odd as it may seem, it’s comforting to know that we all have this frightening moment.

The past three weeks has tied me in knots on a professional level. Work is booming for lack of a better expression, and whenever I stop and think about what I have on my to-do list, the time I have to accomplish it in, and trying to schedule all of it around my oldest daughter’s online schooling, it tends to make me a li’l buggy.

Don’t take that the wrong way; I’m thrilled about my work. I really am. However, the stress? I could do without that part.

I write as F.L. Bicknell for my agented work and some of my more serious e-books, but I also have four other pen names. As a result, I have a lot of contracts to honor, but the ones that do my head in are the series. I have three contracted series I’m writing with two more under consideration [pass me the smelling salts].

Readers don’t realize the time-consuming stuff that goes into a contracted manuscript. The forms that have to be filled out for artwork, for shorter blurbs and long blurbs, and signing up for publishers’ loops (if it’s a new publisher you’ve signed with), the time it takes for some editors to answer questions, and then there’s the cover work that doesn’t fit the story, so then you have more correspondence with the artist...it can take days to sort out a lot of this stuff.

And it all goes on while a full-time freelancer is going full bore on projects.

I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I write full time—literally. I get up with my youngest and have him on the bus by 8 AM at the latest, take my 20-minute walk, then I come in grab a hot cup of coffee and start working. After about three hours, I break for an early lunch, do a couple of chores, maybe relax for 15 minutes, then I either grab the laptop and work with the satellite music on or go back upstairs if my dau isn’t doing schoolwork.

Later, I look at what I’ve done for the day. Sometimes it’s a mix of promo, blogging and writing. Sometimes it’s all writing. Some days it’s all online work.

Add to this list the private clients whom I edit for, and I also freelance edit for special publishing projects. I’m paid in advance for that work, so when I get a manuscript, I have to address it before anything else—but I have deadlines to meet on contracts too.

Now, where the “Red alert! Panic Mode!” comes in is when I’m lying in bed unable to sleep. Those middle-of-the-night moments when you wake up at 3:15, stumble to the bathroom, stagger back to bed, and crawl under the sheets and...

BLINK.

WHIR! BUZZ! DING!

“Attention all K-Mart shoppers. The Brain is now officially on and fully functional. Have a nice day.”

Damn. I’m awake.

So you lay there and start thinking about what bills you have to pay that week, appointments that must be kept, things your kids have talked to you about for school, and then you switch to work mode.

Big. Stupid. Mistake.

A horrible piercing sensation hits you right in the middle of your stomach. You know the area, right there below your breastbone. STAB! Next, your breathing becomes erratic. You break out in a sweat. You sit up and pant, eyes bulging, more sweat coats your skin, and sometimes if it’s really bad, a whimper pops out of your mouth and you think, “OMG, I’m going to die! I can’t breathe! Air! I need air!”

At this point, I throw the covers back and wander around the house until the sensation passes. Sometimes it fades quickly. Other times it takes me a good half hour to calm down.

Yeah, you gotta love those good ol’ fashioned panic attacks, eh?

I’ve had a couple of these the past week. I love my work. And anyone who has known me a long time online has made the same comment to me: “Faith, you’re not happy unless your plate is too full. You thrive on it.”

Yeah, I guess I do.

But the panic attacks at 3 AM sucks ass!

Usually what I do is make a list and when I see I’m marking things off my list, the panic attacks go away. Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing the word count for such and such project and such and such series is going up, up, up that settles me down. But when all else fails, a hot bath in the middle of the night can do wonders to soothe the soul and the mind.

This is something we all relate to and that we all can commiserate on, so share with me your panic attack moments and any remedies for them. Is it a cup of coffee and an hour of mindless television? Maybe you read for thirty minutes?

Monday, 17 January 2011

Thong-ong-ongs!


I realize that everyone has his or her likes, dislikes and preferences. I like Caffeine Free Pepsi Zero whereas my oldest dau likes regular Pepsi. One person prefers pop in a glass and another likes it in a can.

Some women insist on having their nails done while others are content to paint their own.

One man insists on blondes but another likes redheads. Tom likes Nikes, but Dick prefers Pumas.

Here’s one I’m firm about when it comes to underwear: I prefer the boys’ briefs made for ladies.

Granny panties have their place during that time of the month. They’re comfy and they reflect our mood well during that time.

Thongs, however, are a medieval torture device. I’m convinced of this.

Yeah, I get that there are people out there who prefer thong underwear, but I’m not one of them. My oldest daughter had a few pairs she’d wear, but only if all her other undies were in the dirty laundry. Once the elastic failed said pairs of thongs, they hit the garbage can.

I’d always tease her about having worn them, but she does the same to me when we’re shopping for underwear.

“Hey, Mom. Look at these.” She’ll hold up what looks like a small tangle of red or blue dental floss.

“No.”

“Why not?” she’ll ask. “You’d look good in them.”

“Number one, when I fart, I don’t want to hear Bluegrass music coming out of my ass, and number two, I’m not into self torture nor do I want to be picking a permanent wedgie all day. If I want to relive my wedgie days, I’ll go back to high school or I’ll celebrate the 1980s again by wearing a pair of spray-on jeans.”

Usually, by this point, my daughter is cracking up, so I know she keeps at me about the thong undies just to see what smart-ass remark comes out of my mouth. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that—I’m being perfectly serious!!!

Butt floss. There IS a reason someone gave thong undies this nickname!

One of my faves to call them is ‘hemorrhoid polishers’. Seriously, other than torture that’s the only thing this style of panties is good for.

I like a pair of panties to fit snugly, but not cut off my circulation, and I don’t want them so high I might as well wear ‘em as a one-piece swimsuit; I hate it when I put on a pair of jeans and four inches of my undies are sticking out of my back waistband. I like the kind of panties that will bend and move with you (jeez, I sound like a commercial for Hanes Her Way!). Ever wear a g-string and squat or bend over? Take my advice...

DON’T DO IT!

That little string only makes the ass crack deeper! Whoever invented those damn things should have installed padded emergency airbags in case of sudden bending or squatting.

Yowza.

Same thing applies to thong bikinis. If you’re gonna wear one and sunbathe in your backyard or on a rooftop, fine. But A) I don’t want to see some chick’s or dude’s ass cheeks flapping around in the wind while I’m at the beach trying to take in the scenery. B) Only buns of steel look good in thong bikini bottoms. Sagging tushies or hairy asses parted down the middle with a bright pink string only serve to give people nightmares and years of therapy.

Besides, it only takes one li’l grain of sand and a g-string bikini bottom to ruin your life. That one li’l grain of sand caught under that thong will feel like Jethro parked a tractor-trailer in your ass crack.

The only reason I can think of that a pair of butt-floss undies is good for is enticing your significant other. Throw a pair of stilettos on with the panties and you’re good to go, because those torturous panties won’t stay on long enough to bother anything.

So what sort of underwear person are you?

Boxers or briefs? Granny panties? Thongs? El commando?

Sunday, 16 January 2011

10 Things that Piss Me Off


It's my turn to blog this week, so I thought I'd launch it by posting ten little things that irk me to no end.

1. Guys who email me on MySpace or Facebook telling me how beautiful and sweet I am only to leave their phone number, asking me to call them.

Oh sure! I’ll stop what I’m doing right away, call you in Bum Effed Egypt, run my cell bill to the moon, and chitchat about how the sky is blue, puppies are cute, and you are too—NOT!

2 . Telemarketers who, no matter how many times you tell them you don’t have Northern Gas Company in your region, still try to sell you their heating fuel.

Hey stupid! Why don’t we telephone Hell and ask ‘em if they want to sign up for North Gas Company’s services? I bet Hell could use a li'l help, so tell ‘em I sent you!

3. Satellite stations that advertise a movie from 8 PM until 11 PM just so they can fit in two and a half hours of commercials.

Damn, I can take a bath, make a snack, put the cat outside, AND take a dump and be back just in time to pick up where the movie left off!

4. Notebook paper that has that “wonderful” waxy sheen on it.

What IS the point of that wax-like coating on paper? Try using a pen on it...ha! Start to write a note or a letter and it’s: “Write, dammit! Write!” BAM! BAM! BAM! Sometimes I’ll get so ticked off over it the notebook AND the pen hits the trash can.

5. Ice pops that are no more than colored-ice.

Oh, gee. I guess the food company forgot to put any freaking flavor in my batch...again!

6. Late-late night TV that is all infomercials.

Make sure all guns, rifles and pistols are out of the house as you flip through the satellite channels after midnight. The temptation is just too much. Trust me on this!

And did you know that there's even a sex infomercial being aired around 3 AM???

7. Tortilla chips that do not have warning labels on them.

Seriously, have you ever sliced your tongue or gums on these things? You’re chomping away, and suddenly a piece of your tongue falls out and you’re...gurgle! ACK!

8. Rugs that state they have slide-resistant backing.

Do not, I repeat, do not believe that warning. It is a lie!

9. Dusting sprays that promise to repel dust.

HAHAHAHAHA!!! Whoever came up with those chemical solutions has obviously never lived in the country.

10. A vampire named Edward.

Jacob can kick your ass any day. And he’s pretty to look at too.

So what little things can you randomly list that piss you off?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Sex Words: Are They For Real?


Warning: This post is definitely on the adult side of life. So if you are easily offended, hit delete now. If you are underage…I’m calling your mama!


Have any of you ever visited this site? http://sex-lexis.com ? Everyone should. At least once for kicks. Lol I discovered it about three years ago, and as I write erotic romance, go there occasionally for inspiration—and the laugh.


It’s a thesaurus for sex words. Yeah, a thesaurus.


Plug in the word and it will give you all the words and phrases you can sub with. Now granted, the vast majority of these words—okay—the overwhelming majority of these words, are not something you could ever use in a book for sure. But some will make you roll with laughter.

Now remember, this is all in good fun. I sure as hell don’t suggest these are GOOD words to use. Lol Here are some examples—some tame examples:


Penis:


Long dong, bush whacker, giggle stick (I had a couple that made me giggle, lol), ham howitzer, spermapositor, pride-of-the-morning, eggwhite cannon, bacon bazooka, beaver lever, libido bandido, ladies’ lollipop, two dots and a dash, etc.


Vagina:


Aperture of bliss, crack of heaven, portal of Venus, sink of solitude, bearded leisure center, cupid’s alley, downy cave, dead end street, fresh axe wound in a bear’s back, hefty clefty, joy furrow, serpent socket, vertical axe wound with sideburns (damn another axe), skin chimney, glory hole, etc.


Breasts:

Boulders, bra busters, bouncers, beef bags, baby bar, jersey cities, jobblies, kettledrums, milky way, warheads, sweater dandies, sweater meat, yabbos, etc.


It took some doing to round up all these words and phrases and put this site together. As much as I abhor some of these words, well, I still laugh.


And all of this leads me to this question. Are there any sex words or phrases in romance books that you simply can’t stand or absolutely love? And don’t be shy. Post them. This is an adult blog. Oh, and what’s your take on the occasional purple prose?


http://tessmackall.com

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Last Loaf of Bread


I guess everyone here knows that I had to deal with a major winter storm these past few days. Still dealing with it actually. My yard looks like an ice rink and the trees are absolutely gorgeous in all their crystalline glory. It’s definitely a winter wonderland—a fairy world.

But it has its drawbacks for sure.

The kids were out of school Mon, Tues, and Wed. Went back today on a two-hour delay for the middle school kid. And for the college kid—she had to brave the early morning black ice for an 8 a.m. class.

My middle schooler kept fussing and basically trashing the school district saying the roads weren’t safe—what’s wrong with these people?—don’t they want us to be safe? Etc etc etc. LOL Of course, we all know he didn’t really give a rat’s ass; school was simply interfering with him sleeping late and then getting on X Box. Secretly, I truly enjoyed this morning. I’d been dealing with him since Friday in this house and it hasn’t been an absolute joy.

So this morning I took him to school and dealt with the long stretches of icy roads in order to drop him off so he could be counted present. You see, he won’t have any actual core classes today; he’ll be in all encore classes—meaning music and gym and piano, etc. They do that on short days. And while I think he needs those classes, he needs math, science, English, and social studies more.

There does seem to be some truth to part of his rant this morning. The school really isn’t that concerned about teaching as much as they are just getting them there. It’s got a lot to do with their contracts and when they run out each summer and such for sure. No one wants to go too much over the end of the year that is set on the calendar. Neither do I. And my kid thinks that the snow days are indeed an act of God and it's God telling everyone no one should be in school that day, and therefore no student should have to make them up. Yeah. He does.

Anyway, he’s in school. But I was sitting here this morning thinking about all of the issues I had to deal with in preparation for this storm. The first thing, of course, was to make sure we had ample food and an alternative heating source.

So I went to the grocery store and stocked up on everything we would need for a four or five day snow/ice siege. We weren’t expecting the icy mess until noonish on Monday so I thought I was getting a good jumpstart on things by going on Sunday instead of Monday morning when the forecast for what was actually coming our way would be more reliable. Boy was I wrong.

The grocery store was packed. But without any choice, I grabbed a cart and entered the hoard of shoppers. My first stop was produce and the area was well stocked. No problems there. So I got some oranges and white grapes that were on sale. The aisle you hit first after the produce is the bread aisle. Well, there were several people on the aisle and there seemed to be plenty of bread. I leaned in between these two ladies who were chatting and plucked two loaves from the shelf.

Uhhhh…bad move apparently. Those two ladies turned to me and one of them said, “You got the last two loaves.” I smiled and looked at the shelf and said, “No, there’s plenty more.” She said, “Not of that brand.” I said, “Well, guess someone will have to substitute with another brand. I’ve had to do that before.” She said, “But the other brands are more expensive.”

At that point I got the feeling I needed to move on. But I didn’t want to leave with someone feeling like I was a mean person or anything, so I said, “I’ll be happy to give you one of these loaves and take one of the more expensive brands if that would help.” To which she replied in an uppity tone and her nose in the air, hand on hip. “I can afford the more expensive loaf.”

At that point I blinked a couple of times. WTF? Her companion looked down at the floor when I looked at her. I just held up my hand and smiled and pushed my cart down the airle and away from those two. Something was definitely off there. Hmmm…

I got over to the meat section and thought, well, hell, we will be without power some of the time so don’t need a lot of meat to have to store in the freezer. But I decided to do hamburgers that night—something simple so I could get back to what I needed to do on the computer before my life went to hell and I had to be without any contact with the outside world. Actually, I had a roast in the roaster at that moment. Wanted to make sure I got a few things cooked and ready.

I reached for a pack of hamburger meat. Oh shit. A woman was dead on my six. “Hey, is that all they’ve got?” I turned and stared into two of the beadiest eyes that ever belonged to a woman. I swear.

“Looks like it,” I said. She said, “They ought to take into account that people are going to need more today. I had my heart set on hamburgers tonight. I’ve got so damn much to do.”
She looked down at me—yeah, she was a tall woman—I’m short. I handed the pack to her and said, “I can cook something else. Be my guest.” She smiled, said, “Thanks.” Took MY MEAT and hightailed it up the aisle. I pushed the button for the damn butcher. He came out and I asked him if he had more hamburger meat. He said, “Yes, ma’am. Just getting ready to put it out.” I waited about two minutes and low and behold the hamburger section was replenished. Hmmm…

Next I turned to go down the drink aisle. But I backed the eff up. Too many people on that aisle for sure. No way. Headed over to cereal. Picked up a couple of boxes, and then made my way to milk. Now on the way I’m thinking…”who am I gonna have to kill for milk?”

Well, got there and there were several people standing around. I reached over, grabbed a gallon of skim and set it down in my cart. It’s like this, I wasn’t going to give up my milk. No way. So a man speaks up and says, “Oh, that’s where the skim was. I can’t find anything in all of this milk.” I smiled and pushed my cart away, but heard him say to my backside, “And, of course, she’d get the last gallon of skim. My wife is going to kill me.”

Oh well…I’ll give up hamburger and bread, but not skim milk. Ya gotta draw the line somewhere people. And mine was drawn. Nice only goes so far. Good Samaritan status might gain me brownie points at the Pearly Gates, but damned if MY KID is gonna get water poured over his Frosted Flakes!

I finally got everything I needed, but during the course of my shopping, one thing just kept bugging me to no end. SLOW PEOPLE. You KNOW who I’m talking about. Those people who park their asses cross ways in the aisles talking and debating on this product or that and have all the time in the world to do it—SEE YOU COMING—and don’t budge an inch. I mean these assholes will actually look you in the eye, KNOW you can’t get by them and keep right on talking and never even TRY to move their cart to the side. WTF? I must have said “excuse me” twenty or thirty times that day.

So I get up to the register and the line is down the aisles, of course. Only four registers out of fifteen in the store open. What’s the point of all those brand spanking new registers if no one ever operates them? Huh? Just tell me. Please. I think I was number eight in line. So after about thirty minutes of standing there…yeah, that long…I’m next in line and some woman…yeah, this actually happened. A woman walked up with her twelve pack of beer and pack of HAMBURGER MEAT and her kid with one of those little baskets you walk around with when you don’t have much to buy and put her big damn ugly BEADY ASS EYED SELF in front of me.

CAN YOU SAY: RUMBLE AT THE LOCAL FOOD LION????????????

Oh no. She did NOT do that. Oh HELL NO. I gave her the effing hamburger meat, what else does she want from me. Thinks I’m easy pickin’s huh? Gonna bully my ass, huh?

NOPE.

I said, “Excuse me. I’m in line.”

She said, “I only have a few items.”

I said, “I know, but that’s not my problem. I’ve been standing in line almost thirty minutes and have no more time to give. I often allow people in front of me with less than I have but not today. It’s not fair to all of those in line behind me either.”

I started putting my stuff on the conveyer. She kept standing there. I looked up at her and said, “Excuse me” and sort of moved in so my body was blocking the conveyer and kept loading up. Now the bag boy—sweet guy, talk to him often—was taking all this in. He grabbed the microphone and called for a manager.

Beady Eye backed off and went to the end of the line. I turned around and saw everyone behind me grinning and nodding.

Yep, ya gotta draw the line somewhere. Even if it means shedding a little blood.

On a more positive note, Black Cougar Curse, the book I co-authored with the uber-talented Natalie Dae http://nataliedae.blogspot.com, AKA, Sarah Masters, will release on January 26th from Ellora's Cave. Hope everyone here checks it out. http://www.jasminejade.com/ps-9014-50-black-cougar-curse.aspx

Hugs to all…and pray for summer!

http://tessmackall.com