Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Death of Literature?



When I was watching the international news a couple of weeks ago, I was appalled at the flash mobs of juveniles pilfering, ransacking, destroying, and burning parts of London. The senselessness of it truly disturbed me.

But that aside, there was something else that sent gooseflesh across my body. In a section of the vandalized London neighborhood there was one business that the mob did not touch.

All its windows were intact and pristine.

The door had not been kicked in or busted.

No fire licked at its walls or roof.

And no one had found a quiet back exit to bust in and steal anything.

What was it?

A bookstore.

I cannot describe the feeling of sadness and fear that sliced through me when I saw this newscast.

For God’s sake, if we don’t teach our children the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and respect for others as well as the importance of a good education, our world is going to go from bad to worse and finally to Hell in a handbag.

Look, I realize there is a time and a place for contemporary gadgets such as hand-held gaming units, text messaging and the like, but what happens if there is a magnetic pulse, for example? How will we communicate with others? I'm all for e-books and I know they're economical compared to paperback and hardback, but something like a magnetic pulse would render everything useless, and if your entire library is e-books, how are you going to access it?

You sure as hell can’t make a cell call, send a text, or get on the Internet through a computer, tablet, or any other web friendly device to IM someone. Standing on your rooftop or the peak of a hill and screaming you need eggs and a gallon of milk brought home can only be heard so far (while nearby vandals chant “they’re coming to take her away, ha-ha, ho-ho, hee-hee!”), and nowadays no one has a clue what smoke signals mean.

Anyone know how to train a carrier pigeon?

Oh, I know! Regular postal mail. I could be a rider for the New Age Pony Express! One side of my family is descended from a long line of ranchers and cowboys...then again, saddle sores are horrible, and there isn’t enough Preparation H in the world for that much time in the saddle!

What about overseas friends? How would you reach them?

(looks around) Hey, anyone got a bottle with a tight-fitting cap or cork?

And writers would have to go back to using pen, pencil and difficult-to-use manual typewriters—damn, I broke a nail!

Losing our love and reverence for the written word is beyond frightening.

All joking and wild scenarios (but is it so wild?) aside, younger generations don't want to read. Remember the bookstore I mentioned earlier? What if this sort of thing spreads all over the world? Reliance on high-tech gadgets, lack of teaching, lack of nurturing, and the lack of guidance creates a monster.

When my children were babies I started reading to them, taking them to the library, and buying them books. Although my oldest isn't the best reader and he has difficulty sitting still for long periods of time, he will read if something really catches his interest (usually a book about nature or hunting). My oldest dau would read one book after another about horses and animals; she had so many she passed them on to her younger siblings. My second dau loves to read teen romances, and the youngest boy, who’s 6, adores anything in book form. He even checks out adult library books about prehistoric creatures, space, insects, etc., to have someone read them to him, and he’s a stellar reader of books for his age range and a little older. He pours over books that teaches him about life, animals, science, etc., and wears my brain out asking me questions about everything.

The love of reading has to start in the home!

There are many, many writers who come to read 4SW. You want readers to buy your books, but if the number of readers are dwindling.... Scary, isn’t it?

I’ve started a group called Escape into Books. It was launched yesterday. Although I’m still tweaking things and creating stuff for the group, members are welcome to join now. This group is for discussing books, for discussing heroes, heroines, the love of series, and problems such as the younger generation’s aversion to reading, and anything else that deals with books, the written word, and reading. And yes, there is a promo day for authors, but it’s Mondays only and 1 promo per author.

I hope you’ll sign up for the group. My plan is to share the books we’ve read. Our likes about such and such title (no bashing of any author or publisher), why we’re addicted to a particular series, how you fell in love with a hero, and much, much more.

Once you're membership is approved, read the post with the header Attention Members. Click the graphic to go to the group and join!

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By the way, if you haven’t answered the question on my IMRC Books excerpt, hurry on over there and jump in while you can. The deadline for entries is Friday, Sept. 2, midnight. Here’s the direct link: http://www.irmcbooks.com/?p=899

Monday, 29 August 2011

Edit the Darn Things!


romantic couples Pictures, Images and Photos

Over the weekend I purchased an ebook from a publisher that cranks out books in a blur of covers. The excerpt was well written, which is what caught my attention, and I'm all for an occasional hot ménage a trois romance.

It's a good story that has succeeded in keeping my interest. However, there are two things that really bother me.

1. I'm six chapters into the novel, and the book seems to be all about the sex when it's supposed to be a romance.
2. I paid $7.00 for this book, so if I'm gonna plunk down that sort of money for something that's only 50K words, I want a book that isn't scattered with typos and missing punctuation.

Look, if I'm going to pay for a book, it better be of professional quality. I feel cheated when I'm reading along and a word has too many letters, is missing a letter or two, or the author has used the wrong word. I can ignore a few misplaced punctuation marks or missing ones, but the typos and use of wrong words really irks the pee out of me. **And let me clarify something. I'm not speaking of an occasional boo boo because we're all human. I'm speaking of books riddled with errors from page one to the last page.

Hire editors that know what they're doing, darn it!

Also, the lack of good editing does a disservice to the authors and it annoys the reader.

Now before you say, "Well, Faith, you're a professional editor so you're going to notice those things before the average reader does."

Bull! I'm sure most people know the difference between peak and pique. I'm also sure most know how to spell basic, everyday words consisting of only four and five letters.

Every author needs an editor. I don't care how good he or she is at this craft. I've been in publishing twenty-five years and I still need an editor. A writer grows accustomed to looking at the same words in a manuscript. Writers all have their pet words and their habits. One of my habits is my use of colloquialisms. Born and raised in this part of the Appalachians, I have the words and phrases of this area so ingrained in my brain I am totally unaware of them. It also seems like with each manuscript, I adopt a new pet word. In one manuscript, I may rely on look/looked/looking; whereas, another one I might fixate on urge/urged/urging. Any good author or editor will agree, no matter how professional and knowledgeable he or she is, errors will still slip through because we're blind to our own mistakes.

And I'm not even going to get into editing for plot problems, inconsistencies, characters acting out of character, etc. Let's just keep it simple, shall we?

Anyway, while I was shopping for reading material the other day, I also came across a NY publisher who has titles at one of my favorite e-book distributors. The prices of their books forced a lump to my throat, but I sat back and thought, "It's ridiculous to pay $15.99 or higher for a NY-published e-book, but they're edited well, so it might actually be worth paying more for them just to get a more enjoyable reading experience and therefore more bang for my buck."

However, the budget makes the final decision, LOL.

I write under six pen names and work with several different e-publishers. What I've noticed is that most of the smaller e-pubs seem to edit much, much better than some (I said some, not all) of the larger ones. Two in particular put my manuscripts through three to four rounds of edits. And one of those two publishers also uses a line editor, then the head editor, and then the publisher herself goes over the ms.

Now that is professionalism and attention to detail! Several pairs of eyes catch everything from a quote mark turned the wrong way to a typo to the use of a double word (like the the). It also shows their love for the written word. And it's also their dedication to seeing that readers get an ebook of the utmost quality.

Now, back to bug #1 above. When the heck did pure erotica become the same thing as romance? There is erotica, and there is erotic romance—and then there is porn fiction. Erotica is about the sexual journey. Erotic romance is about the love story with heavy sexual tension and then sex included. The graphic sex is for the heat, the method of getting the reader all hot and bothered. And porn fiction is for instant sexual gratification that often degrades one of the sexual partners (and speaking of sexy fiction, I'll be at Savvy Authors.com Sept. 16th talking about Boom Chicka Wow Wow: Crude vs. Classy, so mark your calendars).

Supposedly I purchased an erotic romance, but so far it has been pure erotica. Another irritating thing is that the book was presented as het ménage, but it definitely has m/m scenes between the two heroes. I write m/m romance, so I'm not dissing the genre. However, when I want a het romance, that's what I'm expecting when I buy a het title, yanno?

Do some publishers believe readers are unable to tell the difference? Maybe these publishers believe the readers don't care? To me, presenting something as romance when it's really erotica is false advertising. Sadly, as a result, the author gets the brunt of the publisher's blunders.

Readers slap down their cash or plastic expecting to get what they pay for, so give it to them. Is that so much to ask?

Okay, next on the agenda...

I'd like to mention an online event with a contest, too. Today I'm over at Interracial Multicultural Books, presenting a great excerpt from one of my IR titles, and if you read the excerpt and answer the question after it, send your answer to me (details on the IRMCbooks site), and one winner will be chosen to win some Omnibucks from ARe.

I am a firm believer the color of one's skin makes absolutely no difference in anything, and love knows no boundaries. Some of my work, such as Queen of the Storm and The Darkness of Sable, involves IR couples. Today at IRMC Books, you'll get a taste of paranormal IR romance from a full-length novel which is available in print and ebook. Besides, Thomas, the hero, is so dreamy! Go check him out! www.IRMCbooks.com

Visit my two websites at www.FaithBicknell.com and www.MollyDiamond.com


Friday, 26 August 2011

Middle-Aged Packing Blues

Carlene Rae Dater, author of the mystery FINDER, joins us today. Please help us welcome her.

I'm getting ready to go on a vacation, and I dread it. It's not the trip I mind; it's the packing.

Things were so much simpler when I was twenty. I opened my duffle bag, threw in a couple changes of underwear, a few clean T-shirts, my toothbrush, comb, lipstick, acne cover-up and I was on my way. If I happened to stay longer than a few days, I'd just wash out what I needed in the bathroom sink and hoped they would dry overnight. Wearing slightly damp panties didn't bother me a bit.

Oh, how things have changed! Now that I'm in my middle years, I have to take at least one coordinated outfit for each day of my vacation, with shoes and purse to match. I wouldn't dream of traveling without a nightie, robe and slippers. Who knows what could happen in the middle of the night? An earthquake? Tsumini? Native uprising? I shudder to even think about being caught oust side my room in the nude. Then there's my makeup: foundation, powder, moisturizer, several colors of eye shadow, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, false eyelashes for evening, blusher - the list goes on and on. Of course I wouldn't dream of traveling without my makeup remover, moisturizer, dental floss, mouthwash and toothbrush.

Always the well-groomed traveler, I must bring my curling iron, hot rollers, brushes, combs, mousses and gels. And jewelry. Do I pack it in my suitcase and hope the airlines don't lose my luggage? Do I trust the baggage handlers to keep their hand off? Or do I take everything in my handbag and pray I don't run into a mugger on some strange foreign street corner. I didn't have to worry about things like that when all I owed was a Mickey Mouse watch and a pair of imitation gold hoop earrings.

Of course, I'd never leave home without my sinus pills, anti-acid tablets, aspirins, vitamins, eye drops, migraine medication, sewing kit, bandages, ear plug, sleeping mask or extra pair of eye glasses. I'll probably never need any of these things, but I have to take them along, just in case.

Packing was much faster back in the good old days too. When I was 23 I went to Europe for two weeks. It took me fifteen minutes to pack. Now when I contemplate travel, I start at least two weeks in advance, making lists so I don't forget anything crucial. The sad fact is I need almost as much junk for a week-end trip as I do for a two week cruise.

My husband thinks he's come upon the secret of packing for a middle aged travel. (He's the smart one - I'm the pretty one.) He says the thing to do is take twice the money and half the stuff you think you'll need, and everything thing should come out even. Maybe I'll try his method this time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out Carlene's humorous mystery, FINDER, available at: www.wildchildpublishing.com to see how thrice-divorced, martini-drinking, Jaguar driving Sissy Montgomery handles Middle Age!

Carlene Rae Dater's sites:

Excerpt:

“I need a good idea on how to kill someone,” Carol Reston said.

David stood panting inside the front door, his face the color of slate. She could smell his acrid sweat clear across the room. Chauncy crouched at his side huffing and drooling, his large pink tongue lolling out the side of his mouth.

Terror shot through Carol. She knew that rattlesnakes were active in the brown hills around their house. One bite could kill Chauncy. And at forty-two, David was entering heart attack country. “David, honey, are you all right?”

His head bobbed up and down and he struggled for breath.

“A body. In the hills. Woman. Dead.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty good. I can work with that. Okay, you win.”

“This isn’t about your book, Carol! It’s real!” He bent over, resting his hands on his knees, sucking in air, trying to catch his breath.

“9-1-1. Call 9-1-1. I found a woman’s body up in the hills.” A glaze of moisture filled his eyes. “She didn’t have a face, Carol. The woman didn’t have a face.”

Buy Now!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The End of Innocence

James D. Kellogg, author of E-Force, joins us today. Please help us give him a warm welcome.

The Fourth of July weekend this summer is etched in my memory. It's not because of the cool fireworks display in Glenwood Springs. Though the wondrous western Colorado beauty surrounding our campsite was amazing, it's not the reason either. No, this Independence Day will remain timeless for me because of my preteen daughter, Sedona, and her...friend.

Sedona, the oldest of my four kids, could be described as independent and full of attitude. If you ever saw the movie "Footloose", think back to the early scene where the preacher's daughter stood with one foot on each of two pickup trucks as they sped toward on oncoming semi. That's Sedona.

Since kindergarten, Sedona has usually had "boyfriends". It's interesting because her sister and brothers couldn't care less about such things. Anyway, many months would pass with one little boy as Sedona's beau. Each time a "relationship" ended, somebody new was eager to move to the front of the line. As a dad, I always knew I was in for trouble...someday. Suddenly the days of innocence are fading like the scent of perfume in a summer breeze.

This past July 4th, Sedona was only a few weeks from turning 12, an age compressed between childhood and adolescence. At this point, she still has fun spending time with the family as we camp, mountain bike, ski...whatever. But it's becoming clear that Mom and Dad aren't as cool as they used to be. And I'm sure that in Sedona's eyes her parents are getting dumber too. Of course there's a good chance that in about 10 to 15 years, we'll start getting smarter again. You probably know what I mean.

Back to the story. So there we were in the upper end of the stunning Fryingpan River Valley, about 15 miles northeast of Aspen. The river cascades through aspen glens, spruce forests, and meadows of sage and wildflowers. Giant granite boulders, fugitives from the surrounding mountain crags, are strewn about the valley floor. It's a perfect habitat for elk, deer, bear, and mountain lion. And it's an awesome place for humans to camp.

Despite a "nagging sore throat and cough," Sedona was excited to be in the outdoors with her siblings. Our friends were along on the trip. Their daughter and my girls are inseparable. And my two boys hang around their son, Christian, as if he were an adored older brother. The photo shows Sedona and Christian on one of our camping trips the previous summer. This year they are both heading into the 6th grade.

Our families have often chuckled about Christian's long-harbored attraction to Sedona. While they've been friends, Sedona has always had other "romantic" interests, much to Christian's dismay. More than once, his mom (who happens to be my wife's best friend) has laughingly asserted that Sedona is more than Christian can handle anyway. And that's been that.

As far as this tale goes, the whole weekend was a blast. Our friends had a trailer. We had a couple tents. But on the last night of the trip, all the kids in both families wanted to pile into one tent. The adults all looked at each other and shrugged. It was just a bunch of kids wanting to giggle and tell stories in the dark. And they would be only an arm's length from the tent occupied by my wife and me. What could happen?

The next morning the younger generation slept in late and stumbled out to the campfire one by one. As usual, Sedona was one of the first to emerge. All was right with the world, I thought. By noon, camp was broken down, and we were packed up and on our way home. An evening of fireworks still lay ahead. Summer time and the living is easy, right?

Later in the week, Christian's mom called my wife with eyebrow-raising news. Christian had come down with a "nagging cough and sore throat." My wife and I exchanged knowing glances. We'd been had. The other kids had dared them to kiss!

The days of girls and boys sharing tents, especially those named Sedona and Christian, are over for us. I'm nowhere near ready for my daughter's innocence to begin to give way to hormonal urges. The thought makes me shudder. I'm thinking that Sedona will just have to be segregated from boys for the next 10 years...or maybe forever. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Excerpt from E-Force:

The suspension on the mountain bike reverberated from the relentless descent of the Scout Trail. With teeth rattling, Colt squeezed the brake levers and slid into a sharp switchback turn. At the right instant, he hopped his back tire to the outside, changing direction. A steep path studded with rocks and roots loomed ahead, ready to punish rider and bike alike.

Colt charged forward. With the skill of a trials rider, he negotiated the obstacle course constructed by nature. His movements were instinctive, refined with balance and timing. Reaching a smoother stretch of trail, he cranked hard and the bike shot on down toward the next challenge that stood between him and the town.

Victorious, Colt finally entered Glenwood Springs and ground to a halt. After a refreshing shot of water, he pulled a cell phone from his CamelBack. His temporary escape from the consequences of his poor judgment with EcoFriends was over.

“I haven’t heard from you, Deb. What’s going on?” Colt asked

“I’m getting the hell out of this mess.” Deb's tone was that of a suffering mother, driven to her wits end by a colicky baby.

Colt detected stress in Deb’s voice. “You’re going to go to the FBI?” Colt imagined himself being marched into a courtroom to face a federal judge.

“I’ve already talked to someone named Price. He’s sending some of his people out.”

“Then it’s over for EcoFriends.” Colt was somber. “We all have to face the music.”

“Colt, it’s the only way.” Deb started to break. “The cat’s out of the bag, and I’m scared. I have these terrible premonitions about Cain. In the nightmares, he’s coming for me. I can’t go on like this.”

Colt’s mind flashed back to the parking lot encounter with Zed Cain. Did Cain know about Deb’s revelations to him?

“I understand.” Colt felt helpless. “You’re doing the right thing. And you’ve got to protect yourself.”

“Price said the FBI will keep me safe.” Deb’s voice steadied. “When they get here, I’ll be fine.”

Colt paced next to his bike. “Maybe I should come up there with you.”

“You don’t need to do that,” Deb said in a gentle tone. “You’ve always been there for me, Colt. I’ll make sure the FBI understands you’re on my side in this.”

“Thanks, Deb.” Colt’s confidence was bolstered a little. “Just stay safe.”

When the call ended, Colt walked over and picked up his bike. As he mounted, he wondered if he could escape the morass of quicksand he found himself in before he sank too deep. He was filled with self-loathing and guilt.

Colt muttered a quiet reprimand to himself, “This is all your fault.” He bent over the handlebars and pedaled toward his Land Cruiser, parked several blocks away.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You can learn more about James and his books at his website.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Cleaning Frenzy and Fantasies

Since Lily's 7th birthday party (in July), I've been in a cleaning frenzy. It's not that the house is dirty. It's that it's messy, and I am tired of cleaning frantically the few days before we have people over. Matter of fact, I grew tired of not being able to see my coffee table, or having just enough space on my dining room table to put three plates for eating. Should someone eat dinner with us, usually a friend of Lily's, one of the adults ate at the couch. (Which is not always a bad thing if you want some peace and quiet. Yes, the TV is quieter than two very excited, nattering girls. (g))

So, yes, I was tired of it. I decided that I would spend an hour cleaning, tidying every day until the house was free of clutter. Well, my clutter anyway. Charlie's is a different story. He's responsible for his own. If it were up to me, you can all guess what would happen to his. (g)

How has this been working? Well, for the most part. I prefer to do this first thing in the morning after breakfast. The past couple of days, though, have not been as productive. I haven't been moving as quickly. Things are still clean. (I have turned into a bit of a Nazi about putting things away. Everyone must put their stuff away, or I snarl and growl.)

I've been going through old papers, shredding, organizing, and filing. I've found papers from 1997. What? 1997? I still have them? What have I been thinking? I've got so many papers I am swimming in them...practically. If there was enough room to swim in them, I would be, but there's not. And there isn't enough room for all of the paper, or hasn't been. When I'm done, there will be. I will find a spot for every single piece of paper, even if it's in the shedder/recycle, or die trying.

So far, I've uncovered the dining room table, the coffee table, the desk, and the keyboard, which may be for sale here soon. And I've developed a system to keep me on track because it can get overwhelming. Except, I'm still a bit overwhelmed despite the progress, and there are days that I just don't want to do it. Where burning all of it would make me very happy.

Unfortunately, I can't do that, as appealing as it is. Instead, I have a few little fantasies about this. (Remember, these are fantasies, people. I do not foresee any of them happening, unfortunately. Sigh Well, maybe one.)

Fantasy One

One morning, I wake up to find my two cats, Blackie and Little Miss Thang, have been in the music room filing as only cats can. Items that they find unnecessary (because they can ready my mind even as I sleep), they have shredded, stuffed in a bag, and carted out to the recycle bin. The ones that can be sold are already up for sale on eBay or paid for by their many cat friends who want the crap, er, used items and out of our house. All my cats want in return is some catnip.

Yes, this has no basis in reality, but it is a fantasy, after all.

Fantasy Two

Everyone is trustworthy. No contracts are needed. We don't need banks. Lawyers don't exist. The IRS and government don't require us to keep any records, and the whole world is peachy because we never make mistakes.

Stuff I don't want, I leave out on the front lawn with price tags on them. People leave money and take what they want.

It could happen.

I know. I know. (sigh) No basis in reality. Get off your drugs, Marci. (g)

Fantasy Three

I "accidentally" drop a match on the papers. They go up in smoke, but nothing else is burned. When the fire burns out, every piece of paper I need to keep is miraculously in its file, every thing I don't want just disappears into the ether (much like some emails seem to do), and all the papers to be shredded join the things I don't want, never to be seen again.

Ah... What a lovely thought! (g)

Fantasy Four

I come home from shopping to find a crew of hot, sexy men wearing nothing but Speedos/boxers/whatever keeps their washboard abs, broad, muscular shoulders, and tight buns in sight for admiring. (g) They are cleaning the room.

One walks up to me and says: "Follow me."

He takes my hand and leads me to a massage table. While they finish cleaning my room, I get the best massage I've ever had. I'm so relaxed I fall asleep. I awaken refreshed, with a clean room, a gourmet dinner waiting for me on the dining room table (with a romantic place setting), and my husband in a romantic mood. (g)

Fantasy Five

I have powers like Jeannie and/or Samantha. 'Nuff said. (g)

Fantasy Six

I win the lotto and can hire a professional organizer and a house cleaner. Neither of which share my name. (g)

This is the only one that is remotely in the realm of possibility...even if it is a stretch. (g)

Yes, I have a lot of fantasies. (g) I am sure you do, too.

So, do you have a catchall room? And what is your fantasy(ies) about all that crap, er, stuff?

Friday, 19 August 2011

I am a straight white woman

Jodie Swift joins us today and bravely shares her story. This fits neither in humor nor rant, but it deserves a venue. :) Please help us welcome her.

Bi-crikey...maybe not!

by Jodie Swift

I am a straight white woman. Yes, I am. I have been married for 26 years; I have two children in their early twenties. I am a straight white woman!

So, how come, on my glorious spiritual path, when I let go of all the expectations that society, my parents, my children, my husband, and my friends placed on me did I discover something else?

It wasn't just a beautiful friendship. It wasn't just that whenever I spent time with Kay (not her real name) I felt so filled with love for weeks afterwards. It wasn't just that I thought she was the most loving person I had ever met. It wasn't just that I thought she was an amazing woman with a beautiful energy. It was more. I realised '...oh my God ... I'm kind of in love with her ...' Then I got all logical, and asked, 'Seriously? So you would want to kiss her?' The answer: 'Oh God I would love to kiss her!' Hang on! Back up the truck! You want to kiss her! Oh hell yes! Just the thought of kissing her resulted in, well, let's just say my lower chakras went berserk!!! Oh my God, I am so screwed!!!

Oh my God!!!

I am so not straight!!!

What the hell was I going to do? I had all these feelings going on, and the more I thought about it the more I looked back over my life and saw the signs which I had always been so very good at explaining away. The girls I was attracted to? I convinced myself that I simply liked them because they were nice people, or that we must have had some kind of past life connection which I was picking up on. I explained it all away, because I was a straight white girl. But I couldn't explain Kay away. I was in love with her. I am in love with her. Oh crap! Crap! Crap! Crap!

I had all this passion that was brewing up like a freakin volcano! I couldn't tell her, I couldn't tell anyone! But I had to do something with this passion, so I did the only thing I could, I jumped my husband daily! I took that passion out on him, while I was thinking about her. God, that sounds so bad! I would be kissing him, or kissing his neck, and thinking of her.

Crap! Crap! Crap!

On a positive note, my marriage had never been better!! (He didn't have a clue!)

The problem was, I knew I would have to explain to Kay what was going on. She would know something was up, but she would not raise the matter, she would leave it to me to tell her, if I wanted to. I mean come on, your friend's marriage is suddenly all fired up, she's having abundant sex (I said 'abundant' I didn't say 'great'!!) with said husband, she has lost weight, toned up, completely changed the way she dresses, wears make-up every day, and is looking hot? What are you going to think? You're going to think she's having an affair. And so, one night while we were talking on the phone, I told her. I knew it was a risk. I said 'You know I love you, right?' 'Yes.' 'Well...I'm kind of, sort of, a little bit in love with you.' Silence. Crap!!!!!! Shit!!!!!!

Finally Kay replied 'I've known that for a long time.'

Seriously?

Cos I sure the hell didn't!

Since then we have had a lot of talks, in fact, we are even closer now than we were before. Kay is straight, and the greatest gift she has ever given me was accepting that I am in love with her without freaking out. I told her that I won't act on it and that I don't need to act on it, what I needed was to be honest with myself about what I was feeling, about who I really am. I had to tell her, and I am glad I did because she told me if I hadn't then she would have assumed I was having an affair!

I thought Kay was the only one, that I was a straight white woman except when it came to Kay. Oh no... as the months passed I found myself actually looking at women differently, all woman. I looked across a supermarket checkout, saw a women two checkouts along, with long blonde dreadlocks, a nice figure, sexy clothes, and I loved the fact that here was a woman who was comfortable with who she was, and strong in her own identity. Apparently I find that sexy too!!! I watched Cathy DeBuono on her video blog and I have to say 'oh my God she is the sexiest woman on the planet!' And yes I do check out the waitresses as they walk away--sometimes I feel like a freakin' predator! Attraction does not mean I have to act on anything, it just means I have to acknowledge that this is what I feel. It's okay!

So, here I am, now 48 years of age, married with two children in their twenties, and I have discovered I am bi-sexual! Crap! I can't even act on it! Let's say I met a woman and there was a serious attraction, would sleeping with her be any less taboo than sleeping with another man? I can justify it any way I want, but the moment you replace the woman in the bed with a man the whole damn justification falls to pieces.

Can I tell my husband? Hell no! He'd be gutted! He is a good man, and I do love him, but I won't tell him I am bi-sexual because he doesn't need to know, and because it's not as if I am going to act on it - but...really...I'm not making any promises here. Plus, and this is a massive plus, I go out of town three or four times a year to visit a girlfriend, and if he knew I was bi-sexual do you really think he'd be happy with me going? And when I spend time with other girlfriends would he really be happy with that if he knew I was bi-sexual? I can spend as much time with my girlfriends as I want because he doesn't know I am bi-sexual - and let me point out here that Kay is the only one of my friends I am attracted to. The moment he finds out, everything will change.

Will I tell my children? One of my children is gay, so it's not exactly an area that would frighten them - I suspect that my children may already suspect I am bi. But I don't know how they would respond, and so at this stage, no I won't tell them. I don't need to rock the boat, and so I won't.

I have told Kay, another friend, and several of my gay friends - my gay friends have been awesome, and we laugh and joke about sex so often, it's as if with them I can truly be me. With Kay I am careful not to cross any line, and not to let her see how much I love her, so sometimes I really do have to look away. (Oh my God, you should see her in tight jeans, a long jersey, and knee-high black boots, with her hair loose. God, I could just burst into flames!)

I'm not a straight white woman. I'm a bi-sexual white woman.

I finally know who I am, and I am so much happier than I have ever been before!

Oh, and if I can add this to the mix...I think about sex all the time.

Oh, and...I have 'a walk' ... one that says 'I want to have sex with you all!'

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Five hundred meters from home, we turn the last corner onto our street. It's been a long day, the kids are tired and grumpy, just holding  that last hot dog and cotton candy in their stomachs by a thin barrier of determination not to puke in Grandpa's car. The rides were fun, the swimming a blast, the heat, almost unbearable, and the sun blinding and punishing. And we're so close to home.

"Don't forget," I say, wearily pointing to the far side of the road, too bushed to actually complete the thought. My husband knows, anyway. The road is much smoother on the opposite side of the road. So long as there is no oncoming traffic. But today, there is.

And why? Because this is the summer they finally fixed our pathetic little park and added an honest-to-god play structure to the sandy lot next to the forty year old slide and swing set. It's a wonderful addition to the neighborhood. If you don't mind hordes of screaming preschoolers, parents tossing their gum wrappers and cigarette butts in the ditch or after-hours teens spray painting the corner store and backs of the neighbors' garages all to graffittied shit.

We never really did get a tally on the amount of money spent on this fantastic new park of ours. We did notice we got about a third the features the planners promised, twice the traffic, half the maintenance, and organizers knocking on our door three times a year asking if we'd like to volunteer in the concession,  watch for and snitch on the delinquents setting fires in the garbage bins.


We also noticed that the sorry state of our little suburban road to our house changed from pitted and dangerous to downright death-defying almost overnight. So when do they come in and fix that, I wonder? Or was that what they were doing when they took down the leaning Neighborhood Watch sign and replaced it with no parking signs for soccer moms to ignore?


On a less ranty note: The last book from my Ageless series has been released at last and is available from Pink Petal Books.  http://pinkpetalbooks.com/Finding-Home-by-Jaime-Samms.html


Series Blurb:
In a world disintegrating under the weight of too many people, the Ageless men and women are finding their lifespan stretching well beyond normal, and discovering they have abilities never before documented. When children are few and far between, and people find they can shift to animal form with a thought, the rift between those doomed to age and die and those who seem ageless is growing. 

Morgan has taken advantage of this rift to seize control of the central nervous system of the world's social structure and make his bid for world domination. It's up to Mikko and Ken and their small band of friends to stop the takeover even as they struggle on a much more personal level to find love and balance with one another.



 Book Blurb:
 Mikko's life is turned upside down when his old mentor, Morgan infiltrates his mind and forces him to hurt the lover he's been trying to save. The attack leaves them both broken and uncertain, and Ken decides leaving is the only way to save Mikko more pain. Accompanied by friends who seem to have designs on something more, ken sets out on a quest to find Morgan and stop him.

Old friends and new lovers are all the pair have to sustain them on their individual journeys. There's no telling if they'll ever find the peace they seek for the world, or for themselves.

Researchers Need to Find Something Better to Do

Please help us welcome Katriena Knights.

***

I'm probably jumping on the bandwagon a little late on this issue, but the truth is, it's been bugging me since I first saw it hit the blogosphere a few weeks ago.

You've heard the story, I'm sure. Apparently some “researchers” have determined that reading romances destroys marriages. Why? Because the unrealistic nature of the characters and the relationships depicted in these books supposedly causes women to expect more from their romantic partners than they can possibly deliver. So these women, disappointed in their life partners, try to move on to greener pastures, abandoning their marriages and families presumably in pursuit of a hunky partner with the cowboy hat and six-pack abs.

Let's take a closer look at that, shall we?

I have been a reader and writer of romantic fiction for about 20 years now. What initially drew me to the genre was not the hunky dudes on the covers. I'm a relatively intelligent grown-up—I can tell when those six-pack abs have been airbrushed to within an inch of their lives. Rather, what drew me was the way the hero treated the heroine as if she was the most important thing in the world to him. He respects her, considers her opinions, makes compromises to be sure their life together works out.

Explain to me again how this is an unrealistic expectation for a relationship. Rather than setting up unrealistic expectations, it seems to me that romance heroines simply demand a man to treat her like a partner. Like a human being.

After all, certain things are anathema for a hero in a romance novel, especially in modern books were many of the misogynistic elements of male/female relationships have been left behind. Among the few things the hero in a romance novel cannot do are:

  • Beat the heroine
  • Rape the heroine (or anybody else)
  • Cheat on the heroine

Are these really such unrealistic expectations for someone you've pledged to spend your life with? Is it really so difficult for the average male to not act like a douchebag than a respectful, devoted man who treats his woman like an equal is considered beyond the realm of possibility?

If, indeed, romance novels encourage women to insist that their romantic partners not act like assholes or treat them like crap, then I can't see that this is a bad thing. And if rising to the challenge presented by the average romance hero is too much for the average 21st-century man, then I fear for the entire human race.

***

Katriena Knights writes paranormal and contemporary romance in which the heroes try very hard not to act like douchebags. Unfortunately, they are men, and sometimes fail. Her most recent release, Ring of Darkness, is a fantasy romance from Noble Romance. In this book, the hero and heroine must come to compromises over complex issues of faith, religion, sex and power.

Katriena also writes science fiction, fantasy and urban fantasy as KC Myers.

Buy Katriena's book.

Visit her Web site.

Monday, 15 August 2011

How Many Days ‘Til School Starts?

Today we have author Trinity Blacio with us, who also writes as Maria MoonStar.

I have just found the sentence I hate worse than anything in the world: “No, you don’t do it that way.” I swear, if my kids or husband say that to me one more time I’m going to pull their hair out. It has to be theirs since old age takes mine forever to grow!

I don’t care what I’m doing someone always thinks they can do it better, but do they offer to get up and do it? NO! They just sit there pointing as they tell me how to do whatever I’m working on. Example: Husband, son, and I were watching TV, and our female cat was on top of the TV. All of a sudden, she puked down the front of the screen.

Son: “Oh, god, gross!” He started heaving, so he ran out of the room.

Husband, whose backside was glued to the material for the whole time and does not move at all: “Hurry, throw the cat outside.”

I ran and grabbed paper towels and the 409 cleaner, and then moved the cat off the TV and into the bathroom so I could start cleaning up the mess.

Husband: “You know, if you use the other cleaner it would work better, and I would have put the cat outside.” All the while, he still laid on the couch and watched me clean up the cat’s puke.

Now I don’t mind if you are going to show me a better way to do something that will make it easier on me, but if you aren’t going to get off your butt and help me then shut the hell up!

Example two: Cleaning the kids’ rooms.

I asked for two weeks for my kids to clean their rooms, telling them if I come in there and clean for them they will know it because I will start pitching stuff out. Do you think they listened? Nope.

So, on Sunday, I got a large black garbage bag, the vacuum, Pledge, Windex, paper towels, and focused on the worse room first: the daughter’s. For one hour straight, I cleaned all the while she was laying on the bed drawing. She didn’t say one word until I got to her desk where her prized pencils are. “Mom, don’t do it that way, you’ll mess them all up.”

Did she get up and offer to help me? Of course not. That was when I blew up the first time. “You have five minutes to clean that desk while I clean your closet.” That was when she finally moved to clean.

Next stop: son’s room. The same thing happened there, too, but when it came to my son’s Xbox, he proceeded to tell me how to clean it. Blow up number two. By that time I was all sweaty, tired and dirty.

Come Sunday night, all beds were stripped, all rooms were cleaned, and I was totally tired so I crawled into the tub full of hot, bubbly water to relax and clean up. You will never guess who was at the bathroom door wanting in: the cat. He sat there, paw under the door, screaming. I rolled my eyes and ignored him, silently counting the days until school starts up again and I can have peace and quiet for at least part of my day.

~~88~~88~~

So some of you may or may not know that I also write as Maria MoonStar. I pen erotic romance in the paranormal, steampunk, sci-fi, and time travel categories with my co-author, Azura Ice. Here is a blurb of our latest co-written release. It’s book one of the Sky Streamers Series: Conquering Venus.

Don't miss this HOT summer read from Decadent Publishing.com!

Blurb: Three hundred years in the future, Earth is dying. Venus Dalshvire, the daughter of murdered scientists, is one of the last survivors. Barricaded in a bank building with only her dog for company, Venus raises a rooftop garden and scavenges during the heat of the day to avoid the Bone Eaters. She’s independent, strong…and utterly alone.

Light-years away, the Ruling Body of Planets decides to send extraterrestrials to Earth. Their mission: to re-populate the planet, as well as utilize hidden vaults of DNA, seeds, and spores. Through time travel, these aliens will retrieve people from the past and re-introduce them as settlers into the ravaged world.

Equipped with Earth’s entire history and plenty of tools to help them survive, Volund and Jaxxon arrive in a small, desolate town near Lake Erie. Upon finding a curvaceous female, each man knows Venus is a lovely and intelligent mate. The dilemma, however, is that they both want her. Will their passion tear them apart, or can they find a way to share and love as a threesome?

Excerpt:

Jaxxon didn’t want to leave the silver-haired beauty so soon, but the information about the Bone Eaters left him unsettled. He looked at his brother. “Shouldn’t we stay here with her? We can combine our forces that way.”

“Oh, no,” Venus spun on her heel and aimed the blocky weapon at him. “Don’t push your luck, Big Guy.” She smiled sweetly. “Besides, if the Bone Eaters would manage to break into this building, you’d have to fight them before they ever reach this floor.”

“I bet that’s what we killed outside,” said Volund.

“What did it look like?” the woman questioned.

Quickly, Volund described the thing, but Jaxxon only half-listened. He couldn’t get his mind off of how good the fair-haired female would feel wiggling beneath him once he made her his mate.

“You’re lucky you encountered it during the daytime,” the woman replied to Volund. “Unprepared, you would’ve been infected with its venom. And don’t give me any of your shit about being so big and having powerful weapons. Speed is usually the best weapon, and Bone Eaters are fast when the night is cool.”

Jaxxon blinked down at the woman who called herself Venus, his groin stirring. What a feisty female! He liked his women with strength like a roaring fire.

“All the more reason,” Jaxxon interjected, “to stay here with you.”

“You ask too much too quickly of her, brother,” Volund said from the soft bench. He rose slowly and moved over to join him. “Let us go and secure a place for us. Tomorrow is a new day and we can all get better acquainted then.”

Venus nodded as the intensity in her eyes faded. “Listen to your brother. At least he shows a little sense.”

“Very well,” said Jaxxon, disappointed. He’d really wanted to stay and talk with her longer. He let his gaze rove over her tall, voluptuous form. One way or another, he’d taste her lips and sample her body before the night was done.

BUY LINK

Visit the author's sites for more of their co-authored material:

And Trinity's main website is www.TrinityBlacio.com

Friday, 12 August 2011

I Can Do Anything Better than You Can

Every time I think of Lily’s friend Rose, this old song from Annie Get Your Gun comes to mind:

I can do anything better than you can.

I can do anything better than you.

No, you can’t.

Yes, I can.

No, you can’t.

Yes, I can. Yes, I can. Yes, I can!

All of us know someone who can’t help him/herself. Whatever you, or anyone else, say, they must one-up you. However, I have never seen a worse case of one-up-man-ship than I have in one of Lily’s friends. (We’ll call her Rose.)

You see, Rose must be the best, have the most, done something just a bit more extreme than Lily. If Lily said she’s skydived, Rose would claim she did it without a parachute, or had done it 100 times and was an expert with a certificate of excellence given to her by the president.

You think I’m kidding. I’m not. She's a bit like that woman in the SNL skit.

She’s really like this, and she says it with such conviction that my gullible daughter buys every single word. It doesn’t seem to bother Lily, and many of the things Rose comes up with are so hilarious I have to stifle laughter. Sometimes, I can’t even do that because they are so ludicrous and unbelievable, and outrageous, I snort with laughter.

Example One:

For instance, Rose, the oldest child of two, supposedly has five older sisters and one brother. (She only has one younger brother.) She never sees any of these older “siblings.” And whatever day it happens to be, one of them is having a birthday party that she can’t attend… ever. (g)

One of her sisters is thirteen and has to live at Disneyland for the next five years. She cannot leave the park the entire five years. I don’t remember how that sister came to be, but I am sure Lily and Rose were discussing something—perhaps Lily talked of our recent trip out of town, and Rose had to make up something “better.”

HAHAHAHAHA

Example Two:

When we returned from my mother’s, Lily couldn’t wait to share the loom Grandma had given her for her birthday with Rose. She wanted to teach her how to weave a hot pad. Apparently, Rose already knew how and didn’t need Lily to teach her. Not only can she weave a hot pad, but she can weave a whole shirt, pants, and socks.

Okay. (g)

I wasn’t aware that you could weave an entire shirt on that tiny loom, or any loom truth be told. Matter of fact, the only things I knew people could weave on looms were either blankets, perhaps a scarf/square shawl, or material for making clothing. All of the demonstrations I’ve ever seen never showed what Rose claimed. Please correct me if I am wrong. I don’t use a loom, so I am a bit ignorant about what can and can’t be made on them. I would imagine that if you can do clothes, you must be a champion weaver. Something I don't imagine a six-year-old would master yet.

Example Three:

My favorite, so far, of Rose’s one-up-man-ship involves Medusa.

The other day, Lily’s book on Greek myths was on the dining room table. While they ate lunch, Lily was telling Rose all about the Greek myths. (Her favorite is Heracles, as opposed to Roman Hercules. They are one and the same person, just different names.) The girls looked through the book, Lily commenting on the different pictures and giving Rose a short review of the stories.

Rose didn’t like that Lily knew something she didn’t, even though it’s bound to happen. Lily is older, in a higher grade, and exposed to different things than Rose. Rose knows things Lily doesn’t and vice versa.

Well, Rose saw the picture of Medusa. Apparently, her aunt has a tattoo of Medusa on her arm. They started discussing Medusa. Rose didn’t believe that one look from Medusa turned people to stone. I chimed in and said that, yes, Medusa’s gaze turned people to stone, but this was centuries past before she was killed by Perseus. They didn’t need to worry about Medusa anymore. (That last part was added as Rose seemed really scared Medusa would come to get her.)

Rose asked, “Where did Medusa live?”

“Greece,” I said. (This book was on the Greek myths after all.)

Without missing a beat, Rose said, “Well, I have a brother. He’s thirty-three and lives in Greece. He looked in Medusa's eyes and didn’t turn to stone.”

HAHAHAHAHAHA

Oh. My. God.

HAHAHAHAHAHA

Really? He looked in Medusa's eyes?

HAHAHAHAHAHA

All righty then.

This is a very small example of the stories Rose creates in order to one-up my daughter. They never fail to make me laugh. Perhaps it’s because she’s not quite seven yet, and Lily doesn’t seem to care. Perhaps it’s because they are completely unbelievable yet Lily falls for them every time. (g) Whatever it is, it makes me, and Charlie, laugh and laugh and laugh.

I hope they made you laugh, too. (g)

Thursday, 11 August 2011

There’s Always A Crazy One

Today, 4SW has guest author Mahalia Levey with us. Welcome her and share a giggle.

In 103-degree heat the last thing you want is to have to listen to the rambling of a rude woman on a public bus. I was already in a less than amenable mood. The DH and his idea to keep the dishwasher appointment with broken A/C was not his brightest ever idea…since I was the one sweltering in the house waiting. I had the grand idea to meet him at his job. The bus takes about an hour or so to get there from our house. The library attached to his building is the only one on a bus line.

Perfect. He’s working late means I can knock some workout in an air-conditioned building!

Snorts. Everything was fine until the fifth stop after my house. A woman got on. Our very polite bus driver asked her how her day went. His biggest mistake! She proceeded to tell him how every other bus driver was pissing her off and holding up the line for other passengers to get on.

A lady with the most adorable baby boy named Kaidon sat next to me. We chatted quietly as did all others on the bus using our “Inside Voices.” This lady must not have learned that etiquette. As she passed us, she hollered at the bus driver, telling him not to ask a question if he doesn’t want to hear the answer.

My immediate thought was ‘she needs a ball gag shoved in her mouth or a cock.’ Yeah, on the bus surrounded by people I don’t know. I didn’t have a vision of someone slapping the ish out of her. No, it went all BDSM on me.

The bus is cool, and we’re traveling down and hit a detour. Immediately she begins piping back up. The bus driver cut his eyes at her in his mirror and shook his head. Apparently he was taught good de-escalation skills because I would’ve tossed her azz out on the hot streets for her belligerence. We get to a stop that doesn’t have a four-way light or stop signs and have to wait for ten minutes before we can edge into traffic and turn. The entire time “The Crazy” was yelling, “You could’ve went ages go, learn how to drive.” By now the entire bus is agitated, all fifty of us. He got a chance to turn, she calmed down, and then her cell phone rang.

HOLY ISH! The last thing I want to hear about is her love life or her baby daddies, or how she handles her business. Again, I have these visions of some old Dom strapping her mouthy azz down and dishing out punishment. For the Next Twenty Minutes that’s all we hear about. And then the clouds parted and rays of sunshine surrounded us in a calming light. She got off. :P

The rest of the trip was uneventful but I was thankful that I had the forbearance not to say a word to shut her up. I could finally think about what I want to write next after the few series I’m doing currently. I’ve decided blue-collar workers. The EMT’s that helped me, the Marine A/C tech, who was sexy with a smooth drawl that left me drooling before snapping a camera pic…(what he did didn’t work :P He has to put in a new compressor when it gets in, whoot.) Yea,h these sexies need stories of their own, so I’m using them all: Travis the plumber, Bobby the A/C tech, and the EMT’s for a new series of sorts. And to think… .It only took 45 minutes for me to think about writing.

Here’s what I have coming Aug 22nd from Liquid Silver

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Makhi- Coming to Liquid Silver Books August 22nd

Enforcer Makhi didn’t expect to fall for a woman. However, one look at the new female in need of defending brings out the dead emotions of his incubus. Be it the fates will to bless him as her counterpart, he plans to teach her the fine art of self-control and satisfy her on every level imaginable.

Kamaria Valentin is scared for her life. Blackouts, strange cravings for violence and blood have plagued her for the last two years. Add hot sex dreams with a nameless face and she’s one hot mess. Ready to break, the need for answers pushes her to free herself from the prison holding her a drugged captive.

Caedon Bolton searches for the lost. Deities looking for home, for sanctuary. One night a vulnerable soul screams out to him in her dreams, he must find her and save her from the brink of death. Once he has Kama in his arms, Caedon realizes only he can give her the emotional support she craves.

Excerpt:

Makhi pinned her svelte body to the bed, his hands stretching her arms above her head as he gazed down at her with tender eyes. Even though his beast dipped into the fear to taste, read her and get information, her face read like a book. She had no idea what she was, no idea she carried a succubus demon and kitten within her.

He bent his head down and brushed his lips over hers, gently, softly, coaxing her to relax some as the demon shredded her insides. His top priority was to make her understand that this first lesson would be the most difficult. In order to gain freedom from their protection, Kamaria had a tough road ahead, learning constraint after years of unrestrained impulsivity. His hips rocked side to side, pushing between her thighs. Settled there, he spoke, brushing his words gently into her mind. His voice an echoed caress of lust and power rushing over her sensitive skin, beckoning the succubus demon to his wishes.

“You’re home now, let me feed you.” A dark chuckle fell from his lips. “I'll take care of you anyways if you don't bend. I am going to fuck you, then teach you how to feed without ensuing a blood bath. Let's hope those drugs still in your system don't fuck with your comprehension.” His lips swooped down to hers, taking her plush flesh into a dangerously high kiss, passing his demon down her throat. She tasted of the sweetest ambrosia, and the pulsing of power he radiated fed her starving demon.

“But being free was sooo much fun, the blood, the fear, the pain,” the succubus purred into his mind. The lips against his, teasing and sucking, were not those of the petrified girl lying on the bed moaning and whimpering, but those of the starving demon playing with her newest acquisition. Makhi appreciated beautiful women, though there was nothing sexier than African American women, with their varied shade of skin tones. He found mocha coloring one of his favorite, that and pretty brown eyes. Kamaria held the beauty of a Nubian Queen, smooth soft, skin, long eyelashes, and soft full lips. He ignored his libido to take in her breathtaking body.

The sound of her heart thundering in her chest aroused him. He liked her body writhing on fire underneath him. She wasn’t sure of anything, but he knew she craved more than she would ask for. His voice dropped an octave, causing her skin to break out in goose bumps and her core to contract and dampen. God he loved reading her mind and the cacophony of emotions running through her. She thought herself the devil who’d devour him at will. He’d prove how wrong she was. Priceless, her demon called to him but didn’t master him. No he’d mastered her.

A breath-stealing dark smile, renowned for sending women’s hearts aflutter, curled Makhi’s lips. This side of him, mothers warned their daughters to stay far away from. At his worst the predator in him demanded obedience. A soft sizzling noise accompanied his next action toward her, bindings made from electricity peeled from his lean digits would keep her pinned effortlessly as he toyed with her body. Leaning back, crouched on his legs, his eyes shifted over the nude mocha body bearing the testament of a bloodletting before entering the compound. His nostrils flared as he fell back down, his hands catching his weight near her head as he ran his tongue across her delicate cheek.

"You are far too young to have been forced into this destructive way of life, succubus kitten." The knowing whisper came from the darkness inside him. Firm lips traveled over her cheek, along her neck and across her chest. His demon cooed to the succubus, "Learn what I teach you and your kitten and you will no longer be at odds with each other.” His hand rolled along her abdomen, up her stomach, to cup the underside of her breast before moving back down across her flesh.

Giveaway- I’ll pick a commenter for some Makhi Swag  and book tether with Makhi frame charm.

Monday, 8 August 2011

The Gripping Mother and the Spider Monkey

A few weeks ago, we visited my mother in central California. Before this, I knew my daughter Lily was a thrill seeker and a bit of a monkey, but I didn't realize just how much. (g) She's always been a climber. From the time she could walk, she was climbing and pushing the envelope. I've always let her explore that. She seemed to have enough sense to know that certain things were beyond her abilities. And this tactic prevented me from having to chase her around the park, pulling her away from the big kid jungle gym. She just knew she couldn't do it alone.

You know, as a child, I was a bit of a daredevil, too. I jumped out of trees, off roofs, and any a number of things. I don't remember being scared of heights. That was then, this is now. Perhaps it's the knowledge of my mortality. Perhaps it's because I am so much taller now than then, and I have a longer distance to fall. Perhaps I am just turning into a chicken as I get older. (This last one is a good possibility. grin)

However, this child has very little fear. Oh, she claims to be afraid of heights, but we know the truth. She's showed us time after time she's part monkey. And then we went to visit Mom.

Visiting Mom was eye opening. You see, at Mom's, we happened upon a ropes course. Not the typical ropes course. This one requires no reliance on another person. Matter of fact, you have to trust the cable you are hooked up to, the course's stability, and the harness. Oh, yeah, and you have to trust it's not your time to die. That last one is a biggy. (g) One that was a bit hard for me to get past.

Of course, for most seven year olds, the last thing on your mind is that your death is imminent.

For the parent watching their kid skip around a ropes course about 25 feet above solid concrete, no nets, water, or anything, you are lucky to escape without heart palpitations. Seriously.

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I decided I would join her on the course, certain I would be fine. I may not do some of the scarier stuff, but I certainly would do the easy stuff. No problem.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

All I had to do was climb two flights of stairs up to the first platform. Heck, I didn't even have to reach the first platform before my palms started to sweat and my heart rate accelerated. But I pushed on. What's a little battle with your survival instincts anyway? It's not like they keep you alive or anything.

I managed to get to the pole. Once there, I promptly wrapped my arms around it and clung. The platform was actually pretty. My logical brain recognized this. There is nothing logical about fear.

Juxtapose the gripping mother with the little spider monkey who has no fear. She's standing on the edge of the platform, her feet halfway off. Mom is nearly having a heart attack; she can't wait to start. She scurries across the first, and easiest, "obstacle." It's a rope bridge with wood slats and, well, ropes. It leads to a smaller platform. A platform I'm not sure I want either of us to stand on, despite the cable, harness, and the apparent sturdiness of this course.

Despite my better judgment, I cross this "bridge." Once again, she's standing on the edge of that tiny platform, her feet half off as she prepares to cross a tightrope (I kid you not--a tightrope) to the next platform.

I am hyperventilating as she begins the harrowing journey. She is holding the employee's hands as the rope above the tightrope is too high for her to reach. It's slow going, and I am slowly turning into a puddle of nerves. Okay, it wasn't a slow process at all. I don't think I breathed until she reached the next platform. From there, she had to traverse ropes sideways to return to the original "large" platform. (Large is relative at this point.)

As she traverses the next ropes, I am trying to pump myself up to pry my fingers off the pole and cross that rope bridge again.

Yes, I am pathetic. (g) Part of me, at this point, is laughing at just how pathetic I am. The other part has a firm grip on my psyche and body. I walk across the rope bridge again. A little less afraid this time, but my blood pressure has still skyrocketed.

The spider monkey, on the other hand, has decided she wants to do the entire ropes course, and she's going to start with the next challenge: two parallel 2"x4" slats of wood bolted to some metal pipes. They are connected to the platforms with a rope. The slats are about 18"-2' apart. According to the employee, most chose to walk only on one.

She carefully walked across and proceeded to do the rest of the ropes course while I gripped.

And gripped.

And gripped some more.

I wanted to cross those slats, but I just couldn't seem to do it.

Charlie, my husband, ever the helpful person said: Just pretend you are on the ground walking on a curb.

Later, he told me he meant this to help, that he wasn't being sarcastic. Okay. That's not how I took it, but whatever. (g)

A half hour later, and several close massive coronaries, I had talked myself across these parallel slats. The problem was that there was only one way back that I would even consider. The other put me farther out into the terrifying ropes course that just waited for me to slip.

Yes. Yes. I know. I was attached with a cable, but I must remind you the logical side of my brain was not functioning. I was having to push back my survival instincts to move beyond gripping the pole. The pole had become my friend. It was comforting. (g)

On the fourth cross, Charlie videotaped me. When my mother watched it, she said, "Why are you walking so slowly?"

Really? Pfft to you, Mom. (g)

Eventually, my fear started to infect Lily, so I had no choice but to push through it. I didn't venture onto any of the actual ropes. Everything I crossed included wood of some sort. It still scared the crap out of me, but I did it. And once Lily saw me push through that fear, she returned to spider monkey again.

We spent about an hour and half on the course. The vast majority of that time, I gripped one of the poles.

This past weekend, we were at a local REI store. They happened to have a rock climbing wall. It reached all the way up into the rafters above the second floor.

Guess who wanted to do it?

Yup. Lily. And she did. It took a bit. She's never done anything like this before, but she did fantastic. She wants to do it again.

I don't know if I'll survive it. LOL

Unfortunately, I can't get the raw video of me on the ropes course to upload properly. I will try again later when Charlie, the computer guru, is awake.

Autocorrect and autofill ins

I'm sorry for the lateness and the shortness of this post. We had a guest scheduled, and I'm not sure what happened to her. Something fell through the cracks (could have been my memory). Regardless, I just had to share a very brief story and a link for your entertainment, but be warned of the link. It's racy (g), and it can suck you in for hours. Oh, and you may laugh so hard you can't breathe. We need that sometimes. I need that sometimes.

First my story. A little rant, if you will. I went in to pay an author via PayPal. The check I'd sent was returned because I didn't have the current address (Google address book has been reverting to server and erasing some of my updated information. ARGH!), and the author chose PayPal instead. Works for me.

So, I pop in to PayPal and paste the email account to send the author money. The stupid autofill option drops down a menu of all of the other authors I've paid. I hit the tab, but the cursor didn't obey because the amount I put in ended up at the end of the email address. I thought I just deleted and moved on. But NNNOOOOO, somehow I hit the down arrow button, which then put in someone else's email address. I didn't realize this until the last screen after I'd made the payment. The payment sent, I did not have the option to cancel it.

SIGH

Autofill, you can be a PITA sometimes.

It will get straightened out, but I was highly annoyed.

On a lighter note, here is the site: Damn You Auto Correct. Go there only if you need a good laugh and don't any plans for a while. (g)

Friday, 5 August 2011

Will Run for Chocolate (Maybe)

Help me give a hearty welcome to Jennifer Wilck today.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I live in a beautiful neighborhood--fairly quiet streets, residential, lots of trees and a big lake. On any given day, if the temperature is anywhere from 40-85 degrees, neighbors are outside walking, riding bikes, walking their dogs and running.

Now, I know exercise is good for you. I've read any number of articles on its benefits, I've seen how it helps lose weight and I've even felt better when I've done it (although I'll never be one of those people who go into withdrawal if they miss it). But no matter what the experts say, no matter what my friends say, I'll never be a runner.

I have nothing personally against runners. One of my friends has been participating in the "Couch to 5K" challenge; another has started running half marathons again. I give kudos to both of them. It's just that the only running I'll be doing is away from someone who is chasing me. I might possibly consider running toward someone dangling chocolate, but it would have to be REALLY good chocolate.

I spend a lot of time at home and while I'm home, I tend to look out my windows (remember the "beautiful neighborhood" comment above?). I see a lot of interesting things out there, much of which I won't print. Among those interesting things that I see are runners.

You know those people who stagger by, sweat dripping off of them, feet barely rising above the ground, looking like they're about to die? If I ran, that would be me. There has to be an easier way to exercise. I know they're trying to be healthy; why else would they run? But really, they don't look like they're healthy--most of them barely look like they're alive. I have a hard enough time going to the local supermarket without makeup, knowing I'll run into at least four people I know who will be dressed way better than I am and who look like they just stepped off the runway (even if they did actually just come from the gym). I certainly have no plans to pant through my neighborhood like an overheated St. Bernard.

Not everyone looks miserable. Some of them look positively amazing. You know, the ones whose bodies are so thin and toned that you wonder what's left to exercise off. Coupled with, of course, the skintight running outfits, which is why you KNOW there's nothing for them to run off. Well, I could never pull those outfits off. Or on, for that matter. And if for some reason, I lost my sanity long enough to consider running, I'd use up all my energy trying to get into those outfits. And, pretending for a moment longer that I'd actually consider running, I would therefore have to run in sweats or a t-shirt. I hate sloppy clothes. Remember those fun house mirrors that change your shape right before your eyes. Well, sloppy clothes are my fun house mirrors. I put clothes like that on and immediately see a 500-pound-version of myself. Not happening.

I think my other problem with running is that for me, it doesn't lead to anything. Unless I'm running toward a specific thing--like chocolate--or away from someone, why do it? My type A, super-anal personality needs the destination, more than the journey. I need a reason, and a darn good one, to run. For me, the running is the method of getting somewhere. And, if that's the case, then frankly, I'd rather drive. And if, as they say, it's the journey, not the destination, then I'd rather move slower, walk, and have the time, and the lung power, to appreciate what's around me.

So, no, I'll never be a Road Runner. I'll never run a marathon, much less finish one. And I'll probably stay on my couch, reading, writing and looking out my window. My non-sloppy clothes stay less sweaty that way!

Blurb:

Lily Livingston is a widow raising her six-year-old daughter, Claire, in New York City. Devastated by her husband's death three years ago, she's in no hurry to fall in love again. Besides, trying to balance her career with motherhood leaves her little time for romance.

With a wheelchair instead of a white horse, and a vow against falling in love again as his armor, Gideon Stone is the last person Lily expects to sweep her off her feet. But when a business agreement forces the two of them together, that is exactly what happens.

As they navigate the minefield that fast represents their relationship, can either of them overcome the obstacles to find true happiness in each other's arms? The answer is yes, but the bumps along the way demonstrate that neither of them can go it alone.

A Heart of Little Faith is available from:

Bio:

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 www.jenniferwilck.com or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Wilck/201342863240160.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Dead People Can't Run

Heat.

I’m talking about horrible hot, humid air, not the kind blown out your backside announcing last night’s chili, but the sort that arrives when a high pressure system—Jeez! Forget about the chili!—moves into a region and hangs over it like Uncle Ned does the toilet when he’s mixed too many deviled eggs and beer again.

I could never live in a rain forest. The heat is one thing, but the humidity sucks major butt. It has been so hot across much of the U.S. that heat advisories are the norm now. And I’m sorry, but anyone who goes out to jog at 2 PM when it’s 98 degrees and the heat index is 116, is an idiot. The hubby and I have been watching The Weather Channel in the evenings, and it is one report after another about people in various areas who have been taken to the ER due to heat stroke or exhaustion. If you’re going to exercise, go out at the butt crack of dawn or wait until it’s almost dark. For crying out loud, a tight ass isn’t worth dying for. And if you’re training for a marathon, dead people can’t run.

Sheesh.

It’s hot. Yeah, said that already. I’ll say it again. It’s freaking hot—and miserable! The other day, my hubby came home and said the thermometer in town read 113 degrees. He already works in intense heat because he’s a welder, but add more heat and humidity to it, and the man comes home, eats, cleans up, and then crashes in bed. The weather zaps him, and then I worry about him all day.

One evening, after the sun had started to go down, I went out to water the tomatoes and my flower bed and when I walked back into the house, I thought my contacts had melted to my eyeballs. You know it’s unbelievably hot when you’re out on concrete for a few minutes and your foam flip-flops start falling apart.

I hate winter. I hate being cold. But after this summer, I think I hate high temperatures and humidity more. At least in the cold, you can add more clothes, but no matter how many clothes you take off when it’s hot and humid, you can’t cool off. And I’m not walking around naked or wearing Band-Aids and a thong-ong-ong. The farmers run up and down the road on their tractors too many times a day as it is.

Hmm, which is worse? Summer vacation stuck in the house or cooler temps when the kids go back to school. I dunno… Sometimes dealing with school bs is enough to make me detonate, so you’d think I’d be used to the heat by now, LMAO.