Friday, 24 February 2012

Hand Me Downs Hand Me Downs Hand Me Downs

Earlier this evening, when I picked up Lily over at the neighbor’s house, the subject of hand me downs came up. You see, this family has two girls younger than Lily, and, as they are younger, I pass down Lily’s clothes to them. Because Lily is the neighbor, they love her clothes, just as Lily loves the older girl’s (Jenny) clothes who lives across the street. Some of Lily’s favorite clothes come from Jenny.

Me, on the other hand, I didn’t like hand me downs. Perhaps it was because I was the youngest of four, and it seemed to me that all I ever got until I outgrew everyone else was hand me downs. This was not true, but there are pictures of my oldest sister wearing a pair of jeans, my brother in those jeans, my other sister in those jeans, and, finally, me in those jeans. (g) Honestly, I am surprised those jeans survived the four of us. We played hard. (Creek, mud, trees, etc.) Maybe they were magic jeans, or maybe we grew out of them quicker than we could destroy them. (g) (Things seemed to last longer back them, or maybe that’s just my imagination. Grin)

Anyway, that was not the case for other things, though. One of the many things passed down to me was ski gear. It wasn’t until I was twelve or so that I got my first ski outfit that was just for me. By that time, I was taller than both of my sisters and my brother’s gear wouldn’t fit me. I can’t tell you how excited I was. I still have that outfit and would wear it, and did wear it for a good twenty years until I had Lily. The pants no longer fit me. (sigh) The jacket does, though. However, I still have the same poles that went through my siblings. LOL The poles didn’t really matter, but the skis did.

Twelve was the same year we went skiing up in Sun Valley, Idaho. I was taking a ski class and my skis had again gone through first my oldest sister, then my brother, and finally Janna. As Janna got new skis the year before for Christmas, I got Schell’s old K2’s. I didn’t really mind, but since Janna had new skis, I really wanted some new ones too. (You know how kids are. I was like any other kid. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate what I had. I did. I just thought it was unfair that Janna had new skis, and I didn’t. I was young and preteen. What can I say? Now as an adult, I realize how shallow it was, but then… well, as I said, I was preteen. The world revolved around me, right? LOL)

Anyway, I digress. So, here I am in this ski class. I am a twelve-year-old who looks like eighteen, but is as stupid as a, well, twelve-year-old. And I had a crush on our ski instructor. I don’t remember what he looked like, just that he was hot. All of the girls in the class thought he was. We were skiing down a black diamond mogul run. Everything was going great, and suddenly, my skis delaminated. What does this means? Well, it means the skis were so old that the top layer of the ski detaches from the bottom later of the ski. In short, my bindings that attached my boots to the skis were no longer attached to the skis. The skis continued down the hill without me while I went head first on my back down the hill… or so the instructor said. I don’t remember a thing. Apparently, I blacked out. I also managed to emerge unscathed. Not even a bruise or an ache. (Oh, to have that twelve-year-old body again! Or at least to have the resiliency of the twelve-year-old body.)

As we were quite a ways from the lift, I wasn’t injured, and sliding down the hill on my butt was out of the question (I was a little freaked about the idea after what had just happened) the ski instructor had to carry me down the hill in his arms. (sigh) It was heavenly! I have to say, while upset about my skis, just that alone made it all worth it. That, and all the other girls were green with envy. (g)


Oh, and the best part all of this: I was going to get a brand new pair of skis just for me. You know, because Janna just a got a new pair.

Um, no. No, I wasn’t. Janna was a much better skier than me, so my dad felt that she deserved the new skis, and I could have… wait for it… her hand me downs.

ARGH! I cannot tell you how put upon I felt. My world was going to end. It was so unfair! I don’t think I said much, though, because, you know, one didn’t say much when it came to stuff like that to Dad. Dad didn’t put up with any shit. It was another six years or more before I had my first pair of skis that were specifically for me. I was so excited. LOL

I have to say that, now, I’d gladly take hand me down skis as my skis are, um, older than the ones that delaminated on me and probably aren’t safe to ski on anymore. I am sure if what happened in Sun Valley happened now, I would surely end up with something broken, and I’d be carried down in a stretcher instead of a hunky guy’s arms. (g)

Now, I am grateful for hand me downs. My “newest” pairs of jeans were my moms from 20 years ago. They fit great. Matter of fact, they fit better than the $100 jeans my MIL gave me a few years ago for Christmas in an attempt to find a pair that actually fit me. I hardly wear them now since Charlie threw them in the dryer. They weren’t supposed to be thrown in the dryer and shrunk. O.o I can still wear them, but they slid down to below my waist, give me muffin top, and annoy me.

You know, I think I might have appreciated hand me downs more if they were from say a cool neighbor like what Lily gets instead of my older sister who used to beat the tar out of me. She’d tell me what to do; I’d say, “Make me.” She’d beat me up, but I still wouldn’t do what she wanted. grin Yup, I was stubborn. This went on until I was twelve (Apparently, twelve was significant year in my life. LOL) when I grew taller than her. At which point, we stopped fighting daily and got along… most of the time… and I didn’t get her hand me downs anymore, except for skis, that is. (g)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Kids Do, and Say, the Darnedest Things

I am taking a break from ranting today. I’ve been running at rant for a while now and am exhausted from the wound up frustration, so I felt I needed a break. Instead, I have decided to share a few things Lily, and her friends, have said, and done, that crack me up. I am sure that all of you have been there. And, please, share yours, too.

So, here are a few of my favorite sayings/questions:

Lily: Only humans can marry each other because if a human married a horse, you’d get a centaur.

Friend 1: I don’t like pretending to be someone else. I only like to pretend to be animals.

Lily: I need water, and if I don’t get it now, I will die. (This is a frequent complaint if for some reason she forgets to bring water with her. She says the same thing about being hungry.)

Friend 2: Well, I’m a Girl Scout and have been for years in Israel. (She’s 7 and has lived in the US for, um, 6 years or so. She may have even been born here. grin)

Lily: How do men pee? (O.o Note to self: get facts of life book from library to help explain.)

Lily: I didn’t say I don’t like him. I just don’t want to play with him anymore. (g)

And some of my favorite things they play/do:

One day, we had five girls over here. Whoever said girls are quieter than boys doesn’t have girls. The girls were playing family. This sounds quiet and could potentially be quiet, but their family consisted of the mom and dad (one of the girls pretended to be the dad), a horse, a cat, and a dog. So, three of the girls were the animals. Lily was a cat. They paraded through the house (the girls who were animals crawled—thump, thump, thump) and either meowed, barked, or neighed as they went. Quiet? Um, not remotely. (g)

Band. Their idea of band does not resemble the definition of band. Often, they fight over who is going to be the leader. Once that is settled, they create their own songs and play them simultaneously. (AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)

We were out shopping one day when Lily ripped one in public. People turned to look and chuckled when she nonchalantly said, “Pardon me.” She even says, “Pardon me” for the silent ones. She hasn’t yet learned that it’s best to just let those slide. (g)

Lily draws mermaids with seashell bikini tops covering their bosoms. Why do I find this funny? I don’t know. I just do. To me, it’s hilarious.

When we go to visit my mother, inevitably, she falls asleep in the car. She is so out of it that she tips over and the only thing holding her up is the seatbelt. We wake her once we are there. She will swear up and down that she was not asleep. (g)

There are many more, but, alas, I cannot think of any. Hopefully, you do.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Crossing the Line

Today, it's a rant, so be prepared. (grin)

The other day, I received an email from the PTA of Lily's old school. Although Lily no longer goes there, I am still on their list. I don't mind. It's interesting to see what's going on. And this particular one got me going. You see, every year, the parents of our local schools raise money to pay for programs that the budgets have cut--subjects like music, art, and theater. The art and music teachers are independent contractors. The money pays for companies such as LA Opera and The Music Center come in to teach classes.

So, this email comes through. The president of the district employee union is threatening to file a lawsuit because the programs the parents have raised money for is taking jobs away from its members. (The implication with this was also that parent volunteers were also taking away their jobs. O.o)

What? There wouldn't be any art and music in our local school if the parents didn't raise funds for them. If parents didn't volunteer, there are things that would be much harder to accomplish. (As a past parent volunteer, I speak from experience.) In other words, most parents (not all) make the teachers' jobs easier and improve their kids' educations.

But the union is saying that they want to be able to tell us how to spend the money we raised? Who we should hire? Really? You want to go there?

As parents, they are doing what they think is best for their kids. And, really, this is about kids, right? Right? Hm... Why doesn't it seem that way? And why am I not surprised?

Very little seems about kids in the schools any more. Matter of fact, most of it seems to be about the money. If your kid misses school, they don't care so much about why your kid misses, but more about the fact that they won't get the money for that kid. So, this whole thing about them making the grab for money raised by parents? It really sticks in my craw. (Not hard, considering there are a lot of things about the schools nowadays that does that.)

Not surprisingly, this has riled the parents, and the parents are organizing. These parents who have been organizing to raise money for the past several years know how to organize. Stay across that line, and the union might find themselves in a very untenable situation. If they are smart, they will drop this, back away, and shut up. I'm not betting on intelligence, though. Greed? Yes. Intelligence? No.

We'll see what happens.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Be Wise & Bring a Cheese & Meat Platter

First, if you find typos in my post, I apologize but my day of quiet to work has been interrupted by two kids who, despite my lousy mood, seem to think ticking me off is great fun today.

So, this brings me to my rant. Translation: bitching session.

Why can't people leave me alone?

My phone rings like it should be in a doctor's office. Our driveway is often transformed into Ohio's pull-in OR turn-around zone. Between my one son who thinks I live only to serve him and landlords and hired hands who come and go as they please, not to mention all the traffic due to the new addition to the coalmine, I'm to the point of lying down in the lane to protest the interruptions like a treehugger straps himself to a tree destined for the ax.

Back to the phone. It rings at midnight. It rings at 1 AM. It rings at 7:30 in the morning--and whether it's a weekday or weekend matters naught.

The power company uses our driveway to access coal mine property, which sets the dog to barking her head off. And now there's a water-testing guy who bangs on our door when I least expect it to ask for water samples.

For. God's. Sake!!! Leave. Me. Alone!

I understand why people lose their tempers and do stupid things.

And if you add the latest stupid stunts--note, that it's plural!--my oldest son has done of late...allow me a moment of snarling. I'm so furious and upset I could go ten rounds or more with Godzilla and not knock him out just so I could beat on him a li'l longer. I swear, in the mood I'm in of late, Bigfoot would take one look at me and scream "Yipe! Yipe! Yipe!" as it ran back into the woods.

However, the traffic through our drive aside, why is it family cannot leave a mom alone? My hubby calls me "The Matriarch" and says I can "fix" anything.

I don't care! Leave me alone! I need a life--a life that's mine and not one caters to what everyone else wants. Don't call me and ask me to Google something for you when you have Internet access on your high-tech cell phone! Don't call me and ask if you should give the baby a dose of medicine when it has directions on the bottle! Don't wait until four hours before your friends are going to the movies to ask if you can go when you've known about it for two freaking weeks!

And never ever tell me I've overused a word in a manuscript when I can do a search and highlight and see the word was used only three times in an entire full-length book!

Oh yeah. PMS? Pa-shaw! That's nothing. Get on a mountain woman's last nerve and face the wrath of Hades and Mount Vesuvius combined!

By tonight I'll need a date with Jack. If any harried moms out there plan to join me, bring limes or get tossed into the volcano.

Oh, and a cheese and meat platter would be nice. I'm sick of cooking.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Book Review: The Days When You Were Anything Else

Author: Marcus Sakey

Publisher: Smashwords

Format: e-Book, short story

It’s not often I come across a story or book that immediately pulls me in, but The Days When You Were Anything Else certainly did. I’ve always been a fan of fiction written in first person, too, so that was an added bonus.

Many of you are probably fans of the Travel Channel show Hidden City where Mr. Sakey researches crimes from a novelist’s point of view. It’s one of my favorite shows and even my youngest son will sometimes sit and watch it with me (he especially liked the episode involving Bum Farto, but it sort of catered to a seven-year-old boy’s sense of humor, lol). Anyway, the show is entertaining, creative and full of interesting history, which is right up my alley. It turns out Mr. Sakey’s fiction is just as entertaining.

I friend-ed Mr. Sakey on Facebook, and a few days later he posted a link to a temporarily free download of his short story. Curious, I downloaded it and read it last week. I must say I was quite impressed and will definitely find more of this author’s work to devour.

So what’s the story about?

It’s pretty simple, really. What will a parent do for his child—or should I say what will he not do?

In a nutshell, Frank is an ex-con. While he was incarcerated, his wife died and his daughter, Jessica, became a teenage runaway. Now on the outside, he ekes out a living as he waits for phone calls from his daughter. Even though she blames him for everything bad in her life, he at least gets to hear her voice.

I won’t give the entire story away, but when Jessica is kidnapped, Frank realizes what lengths he’ll go to for his li’l girl. This story really makes the reader stop and think about what’s important in life, what we will and won’t do for our children, and what we deem as right and wrong. I just hope Jessica learned a valuable lesson about her father—one I like to believe brought them back together and set them both on the right path.

This is a poignant story woven with a bold, easy style full of rich details that bring the characters to life. If you’d like to buy a copy of The Days When You Were Anything Else, you can find it here:

And here's the Kindle link too:

Reviewed by:

Disclaimer: all books reviewed by 4SW have been purchased or are free offers downloaded by the individual reviewer; some may even be borrowed from our local libraries.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Are We There Yet?

by Valerie Mann
Ah, the joys of traveling with young children. You plan, make lists, buy snacks, bring toys, calculate the routes with rest stops that have playgrounds, pray for good driving weather, even better vehicle health, and no delays. And like a really clumsy game of Jenga, one bad move and the jig is up.

I’m a planner. When I set my mind to it, I can plan to infinity and beyond. With five kids, three with ADHD and one with Aspergers, organization is my sanity. But the best laid plans of mice and Mom can’t factor in the unexpected during travel. For instance:

1.   Enroute to North Carolina from Illinois, 1996. Daughter number two is lying in the back seat with her head in Daughter number one’s lap. Awww. Sister bonds are enduring. Not for these two. The only time Daughter Two would ever have her head in any type of compromising angle near Daughter One is if a guillotine were nearby and One is the executioner. Before I could consider what it all meant, One pipes up, “Why does Shannon have so much sand in her hair?” I’ll give you a single guess what the “sand” was. Uh huh, head lice. And we were nine hours from destination with bloodsucking critters who I was instantly convinced were crawling all over me. OMG
2.   Remember that rest stop with the playground that the parents of active children covet? We stopped, made haste for the facilities and then Mommy got busy at the picnic table under the handy shelter, making a real June Cleaver lunch, complete with a freaking checkered tablecloth. Children are burning off steam, Mom’s getting all domestic and husband is walking the dog. Mom hears an ear-shattering scream, convincing her that an evil stranger is abducting her angels. Not even close. Son Two is standing in a ginormous mound of fire ants. He’s wearing sandals. He’s a little allergic to fire ants. OMG 
     3.   Enroute to Orlando from Illinois, 1999. We’ve got us a convoy, with two vans and a five-year old nephew with a bladder the size of a shot glass. Daddy is getting cranky because Mom has to keep calling him on his Walkie Talkie to pull over at the next exit. Mom reacts negatively to the crankiness, speeds past Dad in a fit of rage and gets pulled over by the Georgia State Patrol. Nephew wets his pants because the nice officer can’t write that ticket fast enough. Big fine cuts into vacation money. Dad is even crankier. But at least he didn’t have to deal with the urine scent in the Georgia summer heat.

I’d always figured when the kids got older, all of this nonsense would go away. Um, no. Tomorrow we’ll make a nine-hour pilgrimage up the East Coast with two teenage boys in the backseat. One is already threatening mutiny through toxic boredom and the other has decided he’s going to stay awake for the next twenty-four hours, then take cold medicine and sleep the entire trip.

Wait…*slaps forehead*…why didn’t I think of that? Sleep deprivation and a bottle of Nyquil could have made my life so much easier oh those many years ago. The kid’s a genius! See June Cleaver replaced by Peg Bundy.  Okay, so I won’t do the drug-induced coma thing. But the sleep deprivation route...this could work! 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Special Announcement

Here at 4SW we’ve decided to post reviews. No, we’re not taking queries for author’s books. These reviews are merely books we’ve purchased or freebies we’ve downloaded.

The four of us read an array of genres, and there will even be the occasional m/m title reviewed for all those m/m fiction readers out there.

With that said, if you’re an author you’ll want to watch our site because you never know when you’ll find one of your books reviewed here!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Heroine Sara Jane Thornton Has Had A Bad Week!

An Open Letter from Sara Jane Thornton, heroine of my latest release: Floor Time. She (and her so-called “Hero” Jack Gordon) are Realtors and she has had a bad week.

Dear potential buyer or seller,

This is Your Future Realtor Sara. I just want to clarify a few things before we get started down the wide, wide superhighway to hell, erm, home ownership.

I am not wealthy. I only drive this expensive car so I can appear to be. And for the record it's really hard to keep it this clean all the damn time. So don't spill your double mocha half caff cinnamon sugar spun BS latte on the leather, okay?

I don't like your kids. Keep them out of my car. If you MUST bring them, and they throw up in my aforementioned really clean car, I will smile, pull over and set all of you on the side of the road--in my imagination. I need this commission.

I do not allow animals in my car. If you are One Of Those People who can't live a single second out of your dog's sight, I suggest you buy a doghouse together. It will be cheaper.

I am NOT your enemy. Contrary to popular opinion I am here to help you. I am an expert in this market. You are not, no matter how much Zillowing you do. I spend hours every single day studying houses, prices, mortgage rates, inspectors, historical trends and other actual market data. You can trust me.

I know what your house is worth. I don't care if you have a PhD, an M.D., a Th.D. or a J.D. I have a RLD: Real Life Degree. I know what your house is worth on the Real Live Housing Market. Not what you wish it was, or what you paid for it or how much you overspent on that obnoxious kitchen renovation. And for the record, those buyers you just rejected without counter-offering? They were your best buyers. Firsts usually are. Too bad you think you know more than me. They won't be coming back.

When I say "keep your house in showing condition that means (in English): No clutter, no food, no animals, no kids, no mess and no unmown lawns. Ever.

I don't want to be your friend necessarily. This is what we like to call an "arm's length transaction." It's why you hired me. So you didn't have to have your Uncle Wally or cousin Mathilda who still keep their real estate license active “to help family” haul you around for months while you hemmed and hawed. Strangers are better at that sort of thing.

I will not take you house shopping until you've been verified by at least two (if not three) legit mortgage lenders (read: BANKs) that you can actually borrow money to purchase a house. This does not include the Bank of the Internet OR that guy in Uganda offering you 1.5 zillion British Pound Sterling. Seriously. I won't.

I am not an attorney. I am not a general contractor. I am not a radon inspector. I am not a lender. I am not a marriage counselor or a babysitter. I am not yer mom. I could be any of these things in a second, and answer just about any question you might ask one of them. But I won't.

I must pay for every gallon of gas used to cart you, your puking kid and your shedding dog around for first, second, third and fourth showings. Here's a hint: If you need a fifth showing you are Decision Making Disabled and need help, but not from me. Not anymore.

I sincerely look forward to helping you through the admittedly VERY stressful process of either selling or buying your biggest investment ever. I appreciate how hard this can be. I've been there. But you don't need to make it unnecessarily difficult by being an asshole. I promise not to be a bitch.

I value our relationship. To a point. Just trying to make a living here. Please try to keep that in mind when you call me at 9:30 at night to cuss me out over a bad radon report, or when you think I'm wrong about market value or whatever is on your mind at that moment.

Let's go shopping!
Sara Jane Thornton
A Stewart Realty Top Seller

Floor Time Blurb:
Jack Gordon is Ann Arbor's most delectable bachelor. At age thirty-five, he's made millions as a top-selling Ann Arbor real estate broker and has the right connections to close a deal by any means necessary. With his rugged good looks and compelling personality, he has a virtual black book most men would kill for and he uses it often, never settling for one woman for very long.

While his D/s past remains buried, exactly where he wants it, an undercurrent of boredom and dissatisfaction runs through his life now. Disastrous experience years earlier made him swear off the whole scene, but the more Jack suppresses his natural Dom, the more his frustration grows.

Sara Thornton, just a rookie in the field, has fast-tracked herself to the top of the Ann Arbor real estate market. Her life evolves into a disciplined and focused routine, exactly what she wants. However, as her career takes off, the fulfillment she seeks remains inexplicably out of reach. The one thing she knows for sure, she will not join the Jack Gordon groupies in her company, no matter how tempting that might seem.

A chance encounter, then a difficult transaction, throw Jack and Sara together and the sparks fly high and hot and often. Forced to confront the compulsions that gain momentum with each sizzling encounter, their relationship seems to spiral out of control until Jack finally admits what he needs, and shows Sara what she's been missing.

The Realtors Series Blurb:
Love is an easy word to use, a hard one to demonstrate, and sometimes impossible to trust.

The Realtors is a sweeping epic, encompassing over ten years in the lives of two people who know how to love with their bodies, how to please and get pleasure, to control and be controlled. When it comes to the deeper meaning of the one word they both need, backgrounds and personalities get in the way and while their physical connection sizzles they continue to disappoint one another emotionally.

Jack Gordon has it all--money, success, a string of women--but with a deep longing for something more. When he thinks he finds it with Sara Jane Thornton, his world is never the same again. Sara releases his natural Dom, a side of him he'd thought buried out of frustration and unhappiness. Sara knows a true submissive must trust implicitly, something she cannot associate with him, no matter how many times she tries, and he fails.

With a rich cast of secondary characters, including a young man who presents a near-perfect foil to Jack's intensity, and who falls hard for Sara; The Realtors series is a romantic saga with an emphasis contemporary life and love, with a healthy dose of white-hot eroticism. Modern, busy, driven characters living lives of purpose and real-time stress, seek the ever-elusive and highly coveted combination --a friend, lover and trusted advisor who will be there for the long haul.

Liz Bio:

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

or here:
Sizzlin’ Books (for autographed eBook copies in all formats (ePub and mobi) – no extra charge):

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Eleventh of February…

by Kate Richards

Eleven years ago today I was approached online by a crazy guy by the name of Brewmiester. I tried to ignore him but he was so persistent and had such a smooooth line, that we’ve been together ever since.
Eleven years ago online dating was pretty new and my family thought he was an ax murderer and ordered my brother not to let him out of his sight the day he arrived.
Now…February 11th is three days before Valentine’s Day and I happened to be single at the time, which may have made me susceptible to his charms, but for whatever reason we found one another, three thousand miles apart, and without the internet, that wouldn’t have happened!
So …without further ado (love that phrase) I make the following suggestions for finding just the perfect guy for that first date—how’s that for pressure?—Valentine’s Day.

1.     Your mother is sure to know the sons of friends who would love to go out with you! They’re thirty or so, live at home, so she can reach them, and he has already been naked with you, remember? In the bathtub when you were five? So there’s no need to be shy!
2.     TV reality show matchmaker. As long as  you don’t mind a camera following  you around, you may have the opportunity to go out with a billionaire who has such personality issues he needs a matchmaker to get a date!
3.     The gym. Where you can meet guys who are there to work out and ogle the instructors. So unless you have the body of  bikini model… ’Nuff said.
4.     Square dancing. That’s what my mother tried to get me to do before I met the DH, I understand it is a virtual dating mecca for the over 60 crowd. If…that fits you. Being under that age group, and not feeling like a bloomers and petticoats kinda gal, I never took her up on it! But if it works for you, I’d love to hear about it. I think nightclubs fall under the same basic heading…but for the under 60 set.
5.     And my favorite… Internet dating sites. Since I don’t recommend meeting complete strangers without any screening, do as I say, not as I did! There is a plethora (want credit for that word!) of sites available for singles on the lookout for a new and special guy. I particularly recommend Madame Eve’s 1Night Stand. Unlike most of the big sites I researched, Madame has not had any lawsuits filed against her, she does not believe she knows “God’s Plan for you” and she doesn’t judge you for being gay, straight, or a werewolf. 

Whatever you do for Valentine’s Day, I hope it’s with someone special who appreciates you for all your wonderful qualities and makes it the most romantic and awesome day of the year. And if you don’t have a date, do something special for yourself…or even better yourself and a bestie who is also single at the moment! You deserve it!

Gale Force Passion: 
A Madame Eve Success Story

What to do when your fiancĂ© dumps you for a bimbo, right before a vacation of a lifetime to a luxurious Bahamas couples resort? If you’re lucky, like Terese, the reservations clerk can refer you to another resort, even nicer, and suggests you contact the fabulous Madame Eve at 1Night Stand—for a replacement date!

David is Terese’s date. Very tall, ebony dark and handsome, he’s also starting to yearn for more connection than career has allowed. After years of working at various resorts, he can settle in and enjoy his position as Castillo Resorts’ newest manager right in his native Bahamas. 

Add in a hurricane with a sudden change in course, and David and Terese may have a more exciting date than either of them planned. In more ways than one. 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

When the Cat’s Away…

by Valerie Mann

Remember when you were a kid and your parents left you at home alone? I do, and my motto was Let the Fun Begin. Important fun like staying up all night watching the shows on HBO that they never let me watch because they’d warp my brain and morals. Ha. Little did they know. Eating crap they never kept in the house, but a quick dash to the store took care of that. High on my list were Ding Dongs. My mom didn’t believe in sugar. It would warp my health. Ding Dongs took care of that in a hurry. Having friends over that they didn’t approve of. Playing my music as loud as I wanted.  I liked (and still do) loud, heavy rock music. I’ll be a rockin’ granny, let me tell you!

Fast forward to adulthood. My husband is away on business. And while I miss him, the old motto still stands. Plans must be made to assure maximum satisfaction to do things I can’t do when he’s here. But those things have changed. Here’s my grown-up list of Let the Fun Begin:

1.      Watch as many DVRd episodes of House as possible. Husband doesn’t get Dr. House. So he feels compelled to talk to me when I’m trying to appreciate the fine nuances of Gregory’s snark.

2.      Read in bed with the lights on for as long as I want. Sweet Jesus, if you can’t sleep with the light on, put a pillow over your head. It’s what I’d do.
3.      Eat crap food. Okay, so some things never change.
4.      Sleep in past the time his alarm goes off. I’ve never felt so rested.
5.      Make the kids fix their own dinner. They’re teenagers. They’ll figure it out.
6.      Rinse and Repeat

Am I getting old or what? Not a party in sight. I’m enjoying a quiet house with no loud music to interfere. I’ve been looking at quilting magazines, thinking about starting a new project. And the “crap” I’ve been eating is actually leftover spaghetti for breakfast and chips and salsa for lunch. What has happened to me??

Give me a short list of your dream “vacation” without your 
significant other having a say! One commenter will win an Amazon gift card. Leave your email address in your comment!

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Perils of a Write-At-Home Mom

Please help us welcome S.J. Drum.

Being a mother is kind of like living inside an asylum. I love my children, but no matter the time of day, someone's crying, someone's yelling, someone's drooling, and it isn't out of the question to walk into a room and find shit smeared on the wall.

Contrary to popular belief, taking "me time" for a stay-at-home mom does not translate into taking time to scrub dirty dishes, mop floors or fold laundry while a toddler screams at you because the thousand toys inside his room aren't enough to keep him occupied for thirty minutes. Nothing makes being on your knees cleaning a smelly toilet more fun than having to do it while two little people are crying and making more messes on the other side of the hallway.

You think being a writer while also holding the title of stay-at-home mom sounds like fun? Well, it is. But-- and there's always a 'but'--it also takes an insane amount of dedication that borders on obsession. Don't believe me? Here's a little story on the perils of a writing mother ...

One afternoon, after my children had been fed, cleaned and played with until I couldn't take one more round of build-the-blocks-and-knock-them-down, I put the baby down for a nap (which she thankfully accepted) and put the toddler in his room for some quiet time so I could slip into another room and get a few words written.

After thirty minutes of complete silence, I was riding high. I was thinking things like "My kids are being so good. I can't believe how quiet my toddler is being. He's never this quiet for this long."

And then I shot up out of my seat. My toddler is NEVER that quiet for that long unless it's the middle of the night. Something was amiss.

I dashed to his room and before I even got close, I smelled it. Shit. Literally.

My child had silently removed all of his clothes, taken a huge dump, and proceeded to paint his wall, his baby gate, his door, his toys, and every freaking inch of his carpet with poop. Why? Because I took thirty minutes to do some work.

Was the work I accomplished in those thirty minutes worth the gag-inducing mess that took an hour to clean up? Or the hour it took me to drive to my parents' house and borrow their carpet cleaner? Or the two showers and a bath it took to get my poop covered toddler clean?

No. No, it wasn't.

So, I've adapted. If I must do work while my children are awake, I will never again be outside of seeing (or smelling) distance.

Do you have a stay-at-home mom / write-at-home mom horror story? Let's hear it!

Buy A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY, written under my pen-name Clara LaVeaux, and enter to win a FREE Kindle Fire! Check my blog on the release day, February 7th , for Contest Rules and Entry Info. Happy Reading!

~ ~ ~


"Young mother and recent widow, Amelia Gauge, moves cross-country with her son in search of a new life in A Life Beyond Yesterday. She soon realizes life outside of the Rural Midwest is filled with deceit, danger and, too rarely, kindness. Between falling in love and fighting for her life, how will Amelia find the strength to keep her son safe and survive this new, complicated world?"

A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY, written under the name Clara LaVeaux, will be released by Eternal Press on February 7th, 2012.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Oh Nos! Girlie bits! Run!

Today it's time for a rant from me. I don't rant much, and almost never about actual writing issues, but today....

I guess, this is about reading, more than writing, really. I'm talking about genre snobbery. What is that, you ask? Just this: the outcry that goes up should a writer introduce lovers into a m/m book, no matter how small the part they play, where one or more partner doesn't have a penis. I mean...what is that about? Seriously, look around you. Go visit all those so called 'gay ghettos' and imagine what it would really be like if there was not a single hetero couple around anywhere.

It's unrealistic, people.

Yes, I will concede it is possible (not likely, or remotely accurate, but maybe, in a stretch, plausible) that gay guys might tend to form friendship circles in which everyone is gay.

But come on. Really? No girls allowed? What century do we even live in? I'll give you two examples off the top of my, three, in which the women in the books are as important or more than the men, no matter what kind f relationship any of them are in:

Partnership in Blood, by Ariel Tachna. I love so many characters in this series, and two of my very favorite are Angelique, a vampire with some really definite ideas of where her men fit into her life, and Adel, a wizard who embarks on a huge self-learning curve when she realizes she's falling for another woman. There is nothing weak or lacking in these women and the relationships they have are as compelling as any of the gay matches in the books.

And Ms. Tachna doesn't hold back on the love scenes, either. If you ask me, Angelique's love scenes are some of the best ones in the books. Her relationship with David is a rocky one, and the sex between them is a reflection of their growth as people and as a couple. And it's beautiful. The books would not be the same without them. As for Adel, she's prickly and impatient and a dictator and her first partnership with Jude is beyond rocky. It's a landslide disaster. Again, no holding back on the sex, on the anger, or the force both Jude and Adele bring to the bed. A hard contrast to the tender love scenes between Adele and her later partner Pascale. The contrast is important. the relationships are important to the story line, and the characters involved? All amazing creations with incredible depth. And look! They don't all have dicks. Because in life, I know it's crazy, but not everyone has a gay-for-you dick. Go figure. (Adele happens to have a gay-for -you-pussy, when she meets Pascale, and more power to her, I say, though there is much more to her than just that.)

The Dark World series by Lex Valentin, specifically Unbreak Me. If that woman isn't strong and resilient and deserving of a love story, no one, anywhere is. And Lex manages to make all her female characters fun, funny, tough and more than able to hold their own against the men in their lives, whether it be standing up to the villians, partnering their Significant Others or kicking sense into their gay brothers/friends/whoever, these women are worth reading about.

Mercedes Lackey and her Harold Mage universe: There ares some very, very tough women in that 'verse. Some of them sleep together, some of them sleep with men, sometimes their love lives never get talked about. Always, the women are integral parts of the fabric of the stories and of the male characters, lives, no matter what role they take on for the males.

Lets face it, folks, we live our lives in a world where male and female interact. If all you write about are the men and their gayness, you're not only segmenting them off from a whole half of the world that matters, but you're doing a disservice to them. You're making them into creatures who live for one thing: love and sex, in the best possible vision of it. Sex, if you get down to brass tacks.

Gay men might, indeed, be gay. That isn't all they are, and damnit, if you refuse to mention that they know girls, love their sisters, fight with their mothers and get annoyed at their bestie girl-friends, maybe even have *gasp!andshock!* have slept with a couple of the fairer sex, I might just refuse to read your books. et's just get over it and be real and treat the guys we're writing about like actual men with actual rounded and full lives, shall we? hmm?

What books have you read that had women in them as part and parcel to the gay guys featured? If you're one of those readers who just cant stand the mention of girrlie bits in your gay romance, why is that? Help me understand.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Short...sweet? Definitely Sassy

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosKids think they're smarter than grown ups. Did you know? Check it out.

My son today figures he's going to take his dinner of peanutbutter toast to the tv and eat In front of the tv. (in an open concept house all of twenty-seven feet from end to end. Not like he can't see the tv from, well, pretty much anywhere)

So I tell him to take his plate to the table.

Boy: "What table?"
Me: "The dining table, kiddo. Where civilized people sit to eat."
Boy: "I'm sorry" *innocent* "I don't know what civilized means."

This from the kid who has used "delectable", "oppressed", and 'deviant behavior' in sentences correctly.

Me: "civilized parents send their kids to bed early for being precocious. How's that?"
Boy: "I am not precocious. I'm a smart ass."

Not sure who came out on top in that conversation, but he was finished his toast by the time it was over.... Good thing he's cute.