Friday, 31 August 2012

Laid Back

I’ve been busy this week. In three days I’ve written over 25,000 words. One Christmas story is submitted, the other one was snatched up within a coupla hours, and the third one has to be done and turned in by September 15th. All this writing has taken a toll on my body. Bleary eyesight and elbows and shoulders that are aching more than usual. But, it’s what I do, what I love, so I pop the aspirin and put up with it. 

The hummingbirds are slowly leaving to fly back to South America. There’s only about half a dozen left here at my feeders. I’ll miss my girls (I’ve only seen one male this summer). They’re constant, peaceful entertainment and they’re so accustomed to my presence that they fly up to me and say “hello” from time to time.

Voodoo, the new kitty addition to the fam, killed her first mouse in the laundry room this morning. However, I did not have my glasses on when I walked in there to fill her food bowl, so when I turned on the light and found the dead rodent an inch from my toes, I did a jig and shouted “hallelujah!” Well, if I’m honest it was a more, uh, colorful version. Ahem.

Anyway, September starts tomorrow. All the kids are back in school, the days are quiet, and I sit and listen to crickets chirp all day. Bright leaves and cooler days are right around the corner, my friends.

Yeah, this is a rather laid back post for me, isn’t it? All I can say is that after the mental work I’ve done this week, my brain is sloshing around in my skull, lol. It’s mush!

With that said, I have another new release, Twisted Paths. It’s around 40 pages, and it’s three unique stores that follow the premise of twisted paths. Dead is Dead is a psychological thriller that will shock you. The Magic of Stolen Kisses is a two-part tale, one from the husband’s pov and one from the wife’s, but it involves some ancient history that tears one’s world apart and redeems the other—oh, and this story has extreme sexual content in it for the faint of heart. Lastly, in Without Camouflage, a woman running from her abusive spouse finds a coupla good friends from two entirely different realms.

Also, the publisher has the book 30% off for the next two or three days.

Monday, 27 August 2012

It Sneaked Up on Me!

Wow, my week to blog at 4SW sneaked up on me. Feels like I just finished blogging here. Since it took me by surprise, I’m flying by the seat of my pants for posts this week, lol. I have four or five books I’ve read but haven’t gotten around to writing the reviews yet either.

What’s new? My kids went back to school—do you hear the joyous angel music above?—and my Blazer that we spent nearly $300 to fix died on me four times on the way home from the mall—the first time in four months I’ve been anywhere beyond the local grocery store or church without the hubby taking me or using his work truck.

Yeah, I see another “lovely” pattern forming, too. LMAO! I have to laugh; if I don’t I’ll lose my ever lovin’ mind!

So far the hubby believes that some dirt or rust got into the fuel pump. And part of the engine dying was corroded contacts on the battery because the vehicle sat for four months. It’s amazing how you take something to a garage yet your husband still ends up working on the car. Thank goodness he was a certified mechanic for years. It saved us another trip to the local shop.

Although I did fantasize about tossing a grenade into the driver’s window after I finally got the Blazer back in our drive that day.

On the bright side, I have a new release. It’s a super sexy, dark romance with paranormal and fantasy twists. And if you like interracial romances, this is right up your alley. Blurb and short excerpt are below. ☻

Click cover to visit publisher's page!
Shoved into a situation that tears Deirdre apart, she prays her suspicions about her husband are wrong. Glimpses of a powerful, handsome black man tantalize her, and his deep voice comes to her at unexpected times. Who is this stranger and how does he seem to always know when she needs him? The more Malachi follows his wandering heart, the more Deirdre finds herself drawn to her ghostly companion.

Soon it’s clear her husband has no intention of rectifying his playboy ways, so Deirdre turns to her grandmother’s book of Voodoo and faerie magic for help. Can she summon the power to keep Malachi with her...or will true love and magic from long ago release a new and powerful love?

Her husband ascended the steps and paused as he realized the door wasn’t shut for the night.
“You’re late,” she said calmly, despite wanting to scream at him.
Malachi nearly jumped off the porch. “You scared the hell out of me! What are you doing out here so late?”
“I should ask you the same thing.”
“Oh, I see. You’re pissed again.”
“Do you blame me?”
“No.” He reached inside the door and flipped on the porch light. “I understand.”
“Are you running game?” She hated the desperation in her voice, but she loved him and wanted his love in return. If only he were a drinker. She could tolerate a man who loved beer or whiskey, but never a man with a wandering heart. “You be straight with me, Malachi.”
“No, I am not seeing another woman, babe.”
She sat forward, motioning for him to come closer. “Let me see your eyes.”
He remained by the door. “Oh, come on, Deirdre! I said I’m not cheating on you!”
“If you’re not running game then let me see your eyes!”
Sighing, he knelt next to her chair. Deirdre placed two fingers under his chin and raised his head so the light clearly revealed his eyes. She let her gaze wander up the handsome planes of his face to his slightly crooked nose and thick brows. She saw the lies, the deceit. The pain that sliced through her nearly left her panting for breath.
“Okay.” She released him, looked away so he couldn’t see the agony within her, and leaned in close, her nose an inch from his neck.
He raised an eyebrow. “Now you’re sniffing my clothes?” Malachi laughed, but sobered instantly at the stormy expression she offered him. “Didn’t Sally tell you what we’re doing at the woodshop?”
“We’re backed up on summer orders. We have so many contracts for footbridges, swings, gliders, gazebos, and garden lighthouses we’ve had to put in some major overtime. Sally’s brother hired two more guys to help with deliveries.” He took one of her hands and squeezed it. “It upsets me that she didn’t tell you. She and her brother delivered a gazebo to our neighbors several days ago. They were supposed to stop by and let you what’s been going on.”
“The very first night I was late coming home. We’ll have long nights until the summer demand dwindles.” He pulled her to her feet and gathered up the shawl. “Anyway, I haven’t wandered in until early morning on a few nights because I took a break and fell asleep. It’s better than driving home exhausted and wrecking the truck.”
Could she be wrong about him after all?
“If it will make you feel better, babe, call the shop and verify the hours.”
She shook her head, feeling both silly and hopeful. “I’m really sorry I jumped all over you, honey.”
He smiled, led her inside, and shut the screen door. He turned off the porch light. The shawl landed in a discarded heap. Malachi cupped one of her breasts, his lips grazing hers. Desire bloomed within her.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Remember This, Sucker...

Pet Peeve: Those WordPress blogs that make you sign in to to comment. OMG! how I hate that. And that is after I've filled in the email address/name/website form, typed up my comment, completed the chapcha and still you want me to sign in? WTH? Because the other thing about that is that it happens just infrequently enough that I always forget my password.
So I either decide not to comment, in which case everyone thinks I'm a stuck up snob for never vising any of their blogs, or I have to go through the trouble of filling out the forgotten password form, wait for the email, and the link to reset, chose a password I'll be sure will be easy to remember for next time, by which time I not only forget what I was going to say to the post, but also, what the post was even about, and what blog I had been reading, and then my coffee break is over, and I have not bought another coffee to bring back to my desk, and then, as if that is not enough, I have to sign back into my work computer and I try three times with my home computer password and only realize the mistake after I've been locked out of the system and am forced to call IT. They know my name there.Hell, they know my kids names, there. We'll be exchanging Christmas cards and BBQ sauce recipes next, I call in so often to get my password reset. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they have a direct line, just for me.There is also the fact that at work, I have three systems I have to remember passwords for. And there are rules. No using a password I've used in the past 12 months (and I have to change all three passwords every three months) and no using kid's names, pet name's, birthdays, anniversaries, or the same password for all three systems, and it has to be different from my userid. And I have to use a number, letter, symbol, capital letter, french character, favorite colour and the director's great aunt's half brother's dog's second nickname initial.

Sorry. What was I talking about again? I got kicked out and had to sign back in...

what is it about computers that is supposed to make them better that you think is just a royal pain in your you-know-what

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Happy Endings

I know most of the time at Four Strong Women, we're all about the cranky rants and the funny observations about life. Normally, that's the perfect thing to get my mind off the less pleasant things in life. I hope my fellow Strong Women will indulge me today.

I wanted to mention a friend of mine. Patric Michael. He's been sick a long time with cancer, struggling through as best he could, and I got word last night his struggles finally came to an end.

I'm sad. One thing most people know about me is that I always hope for happy endings, and I told Patric I hoped for a happy ending for him. He told me then that hope is a good thing to have in life. In the mean time, he wasn't dead yet, and he was going to focus on the story in progress.

Then he went on and on about it until he completely broke my metaphors and had me giggling through my tears. He knew he was dying, and I knew he was dying. On that day, I mourned the eventual loss of someone who probably never realized the profound difference he made in my life by just being the man he was.

That day was nearly two years ago, and in the time between then and now, we shared so much, and none of it sad. All of it about life and living, writing and art and his truck, which I think he was secretly in love with. He was a good man. Funny and genuine, and kind and generous, and wise, though he would definitely deny that last one. It is a shame more of the world could not share in all he had to offer, but I know he had a lot of friends, and many, many people will miss him, myself included.

I made him the promise not to mourn his death, but to celebrate his life, and while that sounded a lot easier in theory than it may prove to be in practice, I will end with the thought that I am certain my life is richer, more real, and more honest than it ever would have been had I never met him.

So thank you, Patric, and may your star shine bright wherever you are now.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Letting Go by Leslie S. Talley

Please help us welcome Leslie S. Talley, author of the mystery Make Old Bones.

Letting Go


Leslie S. Talley

"I don't wanna go school. I can't like school." Terri stuck her thumb in her mouth and, with her other hand, held her pad to her cheek. She looked up at me with those wide-open blue eyes as if that settled the matter.

She had discovered that pad when she was only two weeks old. I put the little waterproof square under her tiny bottom to keep the sheet dry when I laid her back in her crib. It wasn't long until she scooted around and snuggled her head on the pad instead of her bottom. The pad was smooth and soft with little ducks printed on the fabric. So it was only natural that the next step was for her to clutch it in her tiny fist.

Bit by bit the pads disintegrated in the wash. Each pad consisted of two pieces of thin fabric with a layer of rubber in between. Gradually, the fabric would peel away from the rubber leaving a thin, limp rag. So I could see the end of the pads in sight when her daddy broke down and bought her a package of three new pads. He wrapped them up and slipped them under the Christmas tree.

"Paddies!" exclaimed Terri, as she tore off the paper.

"You need your head examined," I said to my husband.

"I know," he said, grinning sheepishly.

I watched her now, clutching her pad and sucking her thumb. I took a couple of deep breaths and tried to dip into that vast reservoir of patience mothers are supposed to possess. Suddenly her eyelids drooped; she quickly jerked herself awake.

"Want to take a nap" I asked, perhaps too eagerly.

"No. I can't like naps."

Terri had given up naps when she turned four; she was afraid she might miss something. It was one of the reasons my husband and I decided to send her to pre-school. With Terri up from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., it made for a long day, for me anyway. The only other child in the neighborhood close to her age had started kindergarten.

"Anne Marie likes school," I said.


"No, what? Anne Marie doesn't like school?"

"No. I don't wanna go school."

With that she wandered off in the direction of the family room leaving me holding a dish towel and biting my lip. I glanced at the clock. Thank God. Time for Captain Kangaroo. I had never dreamed the day would come when I would kneel down and kiss the TV set when Captain Kangaroo came on.

Captain, bless him, followed by Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, gave me an hour and a half to get something done around the house. I loaded the dishwasher, started the laundry, and made the beds. I had just reheated the coffee, sat down with the paper, and propped my feet up when Terri drifted back into the room.

"Read me a story, Mama?"

I suppressed a sigh. "O.K., baby." She took my hand and led me to her room. I stopped on the threshold.

"I was just in here to make your bed, and this mess wasn't here," I said, pointing to all the Legos on the floor.

"I playing with them, Mama."

"You don't need me to read to you then," I said, starting to leave the room.

"I clean it up. I clean it up," Terri said, hurriedly picking up the Legos and pitching them into their box.

I sat down on her bed and watched her. Then I leaned back on my elbow to look at the books in her bookcase/headboard.

"What are we reading today?"

"Ten Little Animals," she replied promptly.

"You know that one by heart."

"No. I don't."

"Well, I do. What about Dr. Seuss?"

"The Boy With A Drum," Terri countered.

"I'm sick of that," I said. "Wait. Grandma sent a box of my old books a while back. I thought you were still too young at the time." I dragged a chair over to her closet so I could reach the box I had placed on the top shelf.

I set the box down on Terri's bed. She climbed up and sat down, impatiently waiting while I undid the twine and opened the box.

I lifted the lid, and my childhood spilled out on the bed. Brownie, The Little Bear Who Liked People; Wu and the Winds; Grabby Pup; and The Seven Sneezes.

I picked up the last one, propped a pillow against the headboard, and settled down to read. Terri sat beside me, her feet straight out in front of her, her head leaning against my arm. I turned the pages, and Terri shared my old delight in the story of the ragman whose sneezes were magical. His sneezes wrought havoc in the neighborhood. He sneezed the bunny's ears onto kitten's head and vice versa. The St.Bernard mewed like the kitten, after the ragman passed by. He sneezed the comb off the rooster and the feathers off the goose. Terri looked up at me and laughed when she saw the picture of the little girl holding her pigtails in her hand; the ragman had sneezed them off. By the time all the animals and children had made their way to the ragman's house and he had sneezed everything back to normal, Terri's eyes were rolling back in her head, a sure sign she was drifting off to sleep. I slipped the covers over her. She didn't protest.

"When you're a big girl, I'll read you Anne of Green Gables," I said softly.

"I am a big girl," she said with difficulty, since her thumb was in her mouth.

"No, you're not," I said, starting to leave the room. "Big girls go to school. Big girls don't suck their thumbs." I paused in the doorway. "Big girls don't have paddies."

A tiny frown appeared on her forehead, but her eyes were closed and she made no reply. I closed the door with a soft click.

"Tee Dee," I called. "Time for lunch."

Terri raced into the room and climbed up on the kitchen chair with the booster seat. "Not Tee Dee," she said.

"Oh?" I said. "You're not Tee Dee anymore?"


"What about Terri-tot?"



"No. Terri," she said.

"Oh. I see. You're too big to be Tee Dee."

She nodded.

"Well, big girl, you and I have to go shopping before we go to the bowling alley, so hurry up."

"What you buy me, Mama?"

"What makes you think I'm buying you something?" I inquired. "But, as a matter of fact, I am. We're going to buy you some new clothes for school."

Terri frowned at her sandwich half, but she didn't say anything. She ate about half of her lunch and crumbled the rest on her plate.

"Drink your milk," I said.

She drank obediently. Then she slipped off her chair and went to her room to get her coloring book and crayons.

We drove to Sears and went to the Children's Department.

"Look at this, Terri," I said, holding up a pale pink dress with a sash.

"Do I hafta wear a dress?"

"Not all the time. Of course not. You'll want to wear shorts and pants when you play on the playground."


"Sure. They have swings and a slide and monkey bars - "

"What else they got?"

"Oh, finger paints. And toys. You'll play games and sing songs. The teacher will read you stories - "

"You read me stories, Mama."

"You'll have other little girls and boys to play with."

"Will I be gone alla time, Mama?"

"Oh, no, baby," I said, stooping down so we were eye level. It's just for half a day."

"I won't get to see Captain Kangaroo."

"Yes, you will. School doesn't start until Captain is over.

"Sesame Street."

"Sesame Street comes on again in the afternoon."

We selected some pants and tops and shorts and one dress to please Mama. Then we drove to the bowling alley. Terri grabbed her coloring book and marched off to the nursery. She never balked at having to go in the nursery, and she had made several friends there.

"You know," I said, when I picked her up after my league was done, "school is sort of like the nursery."

"It is?" she said, turning to me.

"Sure. Except it's not all play. You learn things, too."

"Where my school, Mama?"

"You want to drive past?" I asked. "I need to fill out some papers, anyway."

We drove along toward the high school. The pre-school Terri would be attending was part of the Home Economics Department. The school was run by the home-ec teacher and her students. We drove past the elementary school.

"That's where you'll be someday, Terri. That's where Ann Marie goes."

"I wanna go school with Ann Marie."

"You will someday."

We pulled into the parking lot of the high school. I helped Terri out of the car. She stood and gazed at the Spanish style building with the tile roof and bell tower.

"I don't hafta go to that other place?"

"What place?"

"That place. Where they spank me."

I knelt down beside her. "What place, Terri?"

"That place you used to take me."

I thought for a moment. "Miss Nellie's?"

Terri nodded. I remembered then. I had taken her to that nursery a few times when I had first joined the bowling league. Before the bowling alley had opened its nursery.

"They spanked you at Miss Nellie's? What did you do?"

"Woke the babies."

I had visions of an exhausted nursery worker just getting the babies to sleep when Terri woke them up.

I folded her in my arms. "You're not going to Aunt Nellie's, baby. You're going to this school."

"Terri," I said softly. "Time to get up. It's your first day of school."

Terri slid out of bed and stumbled groggily toward the bathroom. Then she came out to the kitchen. Her long gown trailed the floor. She climbed up on her chair, then scrambled down, removed the booster seat, and climbed back onto the chair.

She looked at me challengingly. "Big girl," she said.

I didn't say anything. I just turned back to the kitchen counter and sliced banana over her cereal.

She toyed with her cereal but drank all of her juice. Then I sent her off to her room to get dressed. She was gone a long time. Finally I went to check on her. I found her in her underwear with one sock on; she was sprawled on her bed and turning the pages of her coloring book.

"You'd better be dressed before Captain starts," I said. "We have to leave as soon as it's over."

That did it.

After Captain Kangaroo signed off, we climbed in the car and drove to the high school. Terri was silent. She sat beside me on the front seat. She clutched her pad in her hand and looked out the window.

"Are you going to take your paddie to college?" I asked. She didn't answer.

We pulled up in front of the high school. I went around to the other side of the car to let Terri out. She stood and looked at the high school. The wind whipped her dress around her little legs. Other cars pulled up, and other children spilled into the parking lot.

Terri stuck her thumb in her mouth and held her pad even tighter. A couple of teen-aged girls approached. They knelt in front of her.

"Are you Terri?" one of them asked.

"She's so darling," the other one whispered.

Terri gave a couple of last fierce sucks to her thumb. Then she shoved her hand sideways at me. She released her paddie into my hand without glancing at it. The teen-aged girls each took one of her hands. She marched off with them, head high, my precious, brave little girl. I raised my hand to give her a salute, then let it fall. She didn't look back. Not once.

I turned slowly back to the car and groped for the door handle. I slid in, laid my head down on the steering wheel, and wept bitterly. I grabbed for a tissue in my purse. When I had dried my eyes enough to see, I found that I was weeping into a square thin rag - with little duckies on it.

* * *


Fifteen-year-old Connie Kittredge disappears in 1953, presumed drowned, in Daytona Beach, Florida. Almost forty years later, her skeleton is discovered in the disused dumbwaiter of historic Belgrath House, situated on an island in the tidal Halifax River. The discovery coincides with the thirty-five year reunion of Connie's Class of '57.

Clarice and Otis Campion function as caretakers of Belgrath, newly restored and opened as a B & B. Clarice, along with their permanent guest Miss Letty, ninety-year-old star of the silent screen, decides to investigate the mystery. Could the murderer be one of Connie's classmates, now respectable citizens? A rejected boy friend? A jealous girl? Connie, a sneaky child, loved the power of finding out secrets; perhaps she found one just too dangerous for her to live.

At a wake for Connie held at Belgrath House, someone collapses from iced tea laced with cherry laurel, proving that the murderer is still around - and dangerous. Complications cloud the picture in the form of suspicious bed and breakfasters, restoration society members, University of Florida freshmen...and a certain pelican. Clarice and Miss Letty re-double their efforts at sleuthing. The death of Connie Kittredge is tied directly to the history of the house, they learn. The house will ultimately reveal its secrets, but not before exposing Clarice to danger.

Inadvertently left behind during a forced evacuation due to Category Four Hurricane Aphrodite, Clarice finds herself confronting a killer - and a rising tidal surge.

Title: Make Old Bones
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Book Length: Novel
Word Count: 59,511
Pages: 227
Price: $4.99
Formats: PDF, HTML, ePub, Mobi, PRC, Lit

Buy now.

Monday, 20 August 2012

There's Sand in My...Electronics!

There is sand everywhere in my house. We just got back from nearly a week of camping, and I have sand places you do not want to know about. There is sand in my electronics, for pete’s sake! Now that’s just wrong!

Not to mention that the three cats were home alone all that time, and have left us…gifts. They’re sweet and thoughtful that way. So not only is there the sand clean up to think about, but also the empty cupboards and refrigerator, and the full cat litters and veritable mounds of laundry augmented by the bedding full of cat hair because there was no one around to tell them to get their hairy butts of the beds.

I love my pets, I love my pets, I love my pets……

You know, this is really the one week a year when I try to truly take time off and put everything writing and writing related out of mind. As I was lying in the tent one night, the only one awake while rain pounded down on the tarp overhead, I wondered to my self: Why?

If I’m only taking one week out of the year to not think about how many words I have to get written and blogs I have to post and promotions I have to line up, why on earth do I spend it with nothing but a thin veil of canvas and screen between myself and the bears and racoons and chipmunks of the wilds? Why do I spend it cooking over a fire and boiling water in pots to wash up?

The kids love it. Hubs enjoys the outdoors and the campfires.

Me? Sand. Just…sand.

So then I ask myself, will I do it again next year? Probably. We’ve been doing it every year for nearly twenty. Obviously, there is only one solution.

I’ll have to take another week’s vacation to get over it. Somewhere without sand.

Where is your ideal vacation? Is there ever a time when camping is good and right? Like…ever?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Aren’t You Grown Up Yet?

By Valerie Mann

As the mother of five children, I have paid my dues. I’ve changed more diapers than I can wrap my math-challenged brain around. I’ve wiped more butts and noses and puke than I care to think about. 

I’ve paid for my orthodontist’s tropical vacation for several years running. I’ve gone to way too many parent-teacher conferences, dealt with doctor visits, ER visits, led Girl Scout troops, taught Sunday School, made carb-filled goodies for bake sales. Hosted birthday parties, slumber parties, campouts. Dealt with angry teachers, principals and police officers (because two of my daughters thought that totaling cars wasn’t fun enough, they had to total them when the drivers of the other cars were police officers. Yeah, I know…). 

I’ve gone on search missions for contraband (both legal and illegal), picked lice out of hair, and gone to bat with mothers of children who should have been locked up (not my first brand of punishment, mind you) for picking on my kids. I’ve carpooled. Everywhere.

I’m a mom. This is what moms do. This is what I signed up for when I decided to procreate with the man of my dreams. And he’s hot, so sometimes procreation was simply the result of plain old fun.

I’ve got two boys in high school. One daughter living at home and attending college. One daughter living in another state, working full-time and going to college full-time.  Couldn’t be prouder of any of them.

Then there’s the firstborn. Genius level IQ, very creative, pretty, outgoing. And not a lick of common sense. Where this fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants child came from, we haven’t figured out. At 28-years of age, she should be settling down. Oh no, this kid is just getting started. From a distance, it’s troubling but we can live with it. She was raised in the same pack of wolves as the rest of the pups, so I didn’t feel badly when I told her she’s on her own. And she has been since she was 22. But…

She’s back. After a bad experience with roommates and a particularly anguished phone call on Mother’s Day morning, I let my guard down and told her she could come home for a couple of weeks. When is Mother’s day? Oh yeah, early May. You do the math.

A recent statistic I read said that 75% of adult children will move home at some point. I hate it when I’m a statistic. Why can’t I be that one in one hundred million chances of winning lottery statistic?

But, I’m a mom. This is what moms do. And I will continue to do it…while earnestly praying that I can be a mom from a distance again. Because at some point, they’ve all got to grow up. Right?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Men vs. Women

Now, before anyone gets their dander up and thinks this is going to be a man bashing blog, you are wrong. This piece is about how men and women think differently, and how humorous this can be for us women. (grin) And as you read this, male audience, you will most likely agree with what I am saying.

I will start with a story from college.

It was my junior year in college, and I started taking some business courses. During one of my classes, I met a young man who is a friend to this day, although he wanted to be more than that at one point. (It was never going to happen.) He's married to a wonderful women with three children. But I digress. Every so often, I would wear this sheath dress. It wasn't fancy, it didn't cling to my frame, it was high-necked and sleeveless, and it hit just above my knees. To me, it was comfortable, cool, made of cotton/poly blend, easy to care for, but I actually felt kind of fat in it. (Only in my mind was I fat in college.)

One day, this friend, whom I will call Jay, told me, "You know, that dress drives all of the guys in class crazy."

I blinked because I was at a loss for words (imagine that, if you can--grin) and asked, "What?"

"Well," he blushed a bit (he was very fair), "you know," he cleared his throat, "easy access."

I laughed so hard I nearly fell off of the wall. It made sense, but, you know, perhaps I was naive and it never occurred to me that a simple, plain sheath dress would cause such twitterpation amongst my male classmates. I found it highly amusing.

Now, when I took business law, I sent that class into a tale spin because it was right after lunch when I swam. This was the only time the pool was available when I could use it. I either swam then or didn't swim. Not swimming was not an option. (I haven't changed much. LOL) The class was on the other side of the campus from the pool. To avoid being late during early fall when it was still hot, I would just tie my towel (very large) toga-style around myself and walk into class barefoot. The first time I did it, the entire class stopped talking and stared. (g) I got it. Here they were dressed in business suits and such, and in walks someone with wet hair, wet bathing suit (maillot, by the way), hairy legs, and a towel. What is she thinking? I'm thinking I don't really give a rat's ass about what I'm wearing, or my hairy legs. I'm here to learn, so get over it. LOL (Rebel much? g) The teacher never said a word, and, yes, I knew what it did to some of the guys in class. I enjoyed tormenting them. (Yes, I do have an evil bent. I can't help it when men are so easy to torment.) Not that I considered (or consider) myself a femme fatale, but I wasn't completely stupid. LOL

Fast forward a few years. I've graduated from school, done a bit of traveling, and am in a long distance relationship with someone I'd met in France. We are chatting on the phone, and he says, "You know, when we first met, I thought you were hitting on me."


Silence on the other end of the line.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I don't mean to hurt your feelings. I just find that funny." Honestly, I was not attracted to him when we first met. He was nice looking, but not my usual tall, athletic type at the time. His personality eventually won me over, but it took two to three weeks of traveling together before it did. (He had a car. What can I say? I'm not stupid. ;) )

"Well, I guess, but it didn't take me long to realize you were like that with everyone."

Yup. I'm friendly, men, so me talking to you and being nice does not mean I am hitting on you. And, now that I am married, even less so. If I do talk to strange men while in line at a grocery store or such, I've taken the habit of mentioning my husband and daughter so they don't get the wrong idea, although that doesn't always work with some men who think that because I've been nice to them I want to have sex with them. Um, no. I'm just passing the time. (g)

See, we think differently. Men think about sex; women think they are fat. Men think about sex; women think they are having an innocent conversation. Men think about sex; women are just being comfortable. There's nothing wrong with it, but I find it humorous. Perhaps I'm just easily entertained. (g)

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Customized license plate. Hm... maybe that wasn't the best idea.

Sunday, I was driving home from swimming. We'd just had a mild lactic workout followed by breakfast. It was a lot of fun. I was in a good mood. A car darted in front of me. There was no reason for this. It wasn't like there was a lot of traffic out there, but he just had to get in front of me. Being in a good mood, I didn't care that much. For some reason, I looked at the license plate and saw: SBD ESQ.

Wait! Did I see that right?


Yes, I did. It really said SBD ESQ.


Call me childish in my humor, but SBD has stood for "Silent But Deadly" as long as I can remember and is only used in reference to farts. You know the kind that always seem to happen when you are trapped in the car on long road trips and someone has eaten something that has caused the nastiest gas. It's subzero outside, but everyone rolls the windows down or asphyxiates.

So, when I saw this license plate, I did a double take and checked out the car and the driver. Seriously, who would put that on their license plate? The driver was a young man. The car? A status symbol, er, a convertible BMW sports car. Expensive.

What planet was this person from that he didn't know what SBD means? Supposing he's intelligent as he's obviously a lawyer from the esq abbreviation, I was entertained that he would advertise his flatulence problem. Because, you know, not even that nice of a car would induce me to sleep next to a man who has SBD problems. Perhaps one could eventually grow accustomed to the odor, but would you want to?

Perhaps the man is from a different country, and there is a different acronym for SBD's there. Perhaps SBD are his initials. (Can you imagine having those letters as your initials? What a nightmare!) Perhaps he has a sense of humor. However, driving a car like that seems like he might troll for babes. You'd think the SBD would nix that, unless the women had a fetish for stench. (g)

I wonder what the reaction at the DMV was when he filled out the customized license plate form. Surely someone was as juvenile as I apparently am and chuckled.

I still wouldn't've put that on my license plate. (grin) I just wish I'd taken a picture of it. Then you'd know for certain I'm not making this up.

Then again, we all know how stupid people can be. (Case in point being my lack of gloves when cutting jalapeños Sunday afternoon. ;) )

So, have you ever seen a license plate that made you wonder about the intelligence of the car's owner?

Note: Of course, I found a transposition in this blog. It was SBD ESQ, not BSD ESQ. That's what I get for writing it at 11 pm. O.o

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Capsaicin or the Jalapeños' Revenge

Sunday, I decided to make salsa. This year, my tomato plants are producing like they've never produced. It's great. I love it. What the hell do I do with all of these tomatoes? My answer: fresh salsa. But I've never made salsa before until a few weeks ago where I made one batch that was yummy but pretty mild. It was agreed that it needed a bit more spice. The next time, I determined to add another jalapeño or two. That first session, the jalapeño I had cored, seeded, and diced only stung my fingers a little. Still, I made a mental note to wear gloves the next time.

Fast forward to yesterday. Somehow, my brain didn't access the mental note about wearing gloves. Besides, I have chopped three jalapeños before with very little issue. A little bit of a sting, but not much. I didn't need gloves, right? Right?

Holy Mother of God on a pogo stick! Gloves! Why didn't I wear those damn gloves? Don't rub eyes; don't touch privates; keep your hands away from anything you don't want to burn.

The burn came on slowly, insidiously, until I thought my fingers would spontaneously combust. I wanted to cut my fingers off, but that really wasn't an option, as attractive as it seemed at the time. At one point when Charlie was trying to "help" me and telling me what I could do to ease the pain, but not helping me get things together, I did consider rubbing my burning hands all over his private parts. (Okay, I really didn't. There are few people I would wish that pain on, although if I thought about it long enough, I am sure I could come up with a few names. Grin)

I tried nearly all of the suggestions on how to get rid of the burn: rubbing alcohol (never again), cold water for 20 minutes (feels lovely, but it returned a few minutes after taking my hands out), hot water (that was worse than just leaving it alone), lime water, milk, sour cream, honey, sugar and olive oil (my hands haven't felt this soft in a long time, but, boy, did it burn while rubbing this concoction on my throbbing fingers), and a few others I just don't remember any more. I did draw the line at dipping my fingers in bleach. That sounded like a very, very bad idea.

And then there were the smart alecks who suggested putting on gloves before cutting the peppers. Thanks. That was so helpful.

Some people said that organic peppers and onions make things worse. Whether this is true or not is moot. I did use organic of peppers (also organic onions and garlic), but I won't be trying it again without gloves even if I use regular. And what might have started it all, besides not using gloves, right after cutting everything up and finishing the salsa, I washed dishes in... hot water.

Yes, let's open the pores so the capsaicin can go as deeply as possible and create as much pain as possible.

Oh, yeah, baby! That's what I'm talking about!

It is something I never want to repeat... ever.

Ultimately, though, I won. Sure my fingers burned for several hours (over eight), but the salsa is delicious! And I will be enjoying it for days to come.

That being said, maybe next time, I'll just make stewed tomatoes.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Slipping on My Promo Heels

I’ve blogged before about how much I detest promoting my work. Most of my online correspondence is via Facebook and Twitter. I have blogs on my websites, but it’s difficult to blog about something interesting on a regular basis, especially on three different sites; that’s why we do it here on Four Strong Women and leave links. It’s much simpler and less time-consuming.

I hate promotion, and when I post on loops and even take the time to comment on some threads, I still stumble across posts where authors grumble about their peers who they feel are promo whores. Well, the only time Author XYZ appears online is to promote h/her book!

I see their point, but publishing is a business. Sure, we make friends with editors, publishers, and fellow authors, but business is business and friendship is friendship. Over the 25+ years I've been in magazine, e-zine, and indie publishing, few people can truly mix friendship and business. In all that time, I've only been able to do this with two people.

I try to rub elbows with other authors. Yanno, the support-your-fellow-co-workers thing. However, most of my loop posting is on my publishers’ groups, and even then it’s a rare occurrence for me. I just don’t have time to constantly type something thoughtful so that I’m considered a regular poster. I reserve most of my “chatting” with readers (that’s not to say authors don’t read, because they do, but we’ll get to that in a moment). I must write to submit material. I must submit to score contracts. And then once the title is published, I must promote that work to put food on my table.
 An afternoon viewing an apartment
becomes more than Simon expected.
More info HERE
Every writer is forced to do this.

I enjoy talking with other authors, but they’re doing the same thing I am. Again, this is a business.

If you’re an author, have you ever stopped to consider how many writers are on the loops compared to dedicated readers? Sure writers read, yes, but they often have less time to read (which is a conundrum when one of the top tips for writers is read, read, read!). As a result, I feel like I'm mostly promoting my work to other authors if I hang on the loops and forums all the time.
And don’t even get me started about ads! How do you get your ad to stand out from the rest on the sites that are economically feasible? Every other author is looking for more bang for their buck, too, especially in our current economy.

The bigger sites are lovely, but who can afford the astronomical ad prices unless they’re a huge-success author, and those are few and far between, yanno?

Authors imagine, they write, they sell their work, and then they promote while they write the next story. Add a day job and managing a household and family into an author's life and any extra time is precious.

But let me return to the topic of blogging. What to blog about? When to blog? How often to blog? Will readers respond to this post better or that post better? Is my blog topic something that will urge the net surfer to click on it? And how often should I post the link to gain interest?

I blog here at Four Strong Women once a month. Each of us try to blog at least twice during our designated weeks, but I also blog at Decadent's Elatia blog on the first and third Mondays of each month. It's tough promoting a new blog so that readers *follow* it, and again, the touting a new blog is time-consuming, too.

So then I wonder...are readers even paying attention when I post my blog links?


But it all boils down to one ultimate question: does all of this make me a promo whore when I do appear on the loops? If it does, allow me a moment to slip on my bright red stilettos. Here’s a picture, lol. And yes, they really are mine.

Now let me get back to writing those damn promo posts! Bwahaha!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Bare Your Teeth for Me, Baby!


There. I said it.

Oh, yeah... I love anything tied to lycanthropy. I find all the legends intriguing from transforming via shimmers of light to the scream-your-head-off-in-pain shifts into snarly wolf dude.

What is it about these creatures that seem to suck us into their world? Why am I so fascinated by them? Shape shifters in general are a great seller at the box office and in books, but personally I always return to the werewolf or the vampire—and even the vamps are capable of shifting into wolf form.

In romantic fiction, werewolves run neck and neck with the vampires in popularity. Is it the wildness of the wolf blending with the human body that attracts us, or is it the battle of human versus animal?

If a writer follows actual werewolf lore and legends for his story, those who suffer lycanthropy don’t remember much beyond the murders they commit. The lust for blood is foremost in their lunar-gripped mind and wolfy body. So sex with a lycanthrope spells doom. He or she is going to rip your heart out, literally, and then when he done with din-din go hike his leg on the nearby tree.

Hmm...maybe publishers have a good reasons for stating something like 'no sex in beast form allowed' in their submissions, eh?

I find I like writing about werewolves more than I do vampires.  However, I tend to blend lore and legend with my stories such as a hero who is cursed when he drinks water from the footprint of a werewolf. A reader once told me that she’d never heard of that before, so she did some research and was pleasantly surprised by all that she learned about werewolves. It pleased me that I was able to make a reader so curious.
Dreamspinner Press

In Tuesday’s post, I mentioned that I tend to use a lot of severe weather in my stories. Well, I also write a lot about werewolves. Sure, I have a few vampy stories, but I inevitably find myself typing something dealing with lycanthropy. Recently, I signed another contract with Decadent Publishing for a manuscript written for the 1 Night Stand Series; it’s an m/m, werewolf romance titled Something to Howl About

Yet another novel is with my agent called Moone Spell, and Heart of a Were is a novella in the Werewolves in Love anthology. There’s also Cowboy Rubies (m/m paranormal), involving an impending war between werewolves and vampires.

So I guess I’ve been bitten—oh, bare your teeth for me, baby!—by the werewolf virus. There’s so much a writer can do with the theme, and my imagination goes full tilt when I’m in the mood to ‘pen’ a manuscript brimming with wolfiness.
So, what’s your fave: werewolves or vampires—and why?

Faith's fave werewolf movies, shows, and books:

1. Dracula with Gary Oldman - Yes, there are werewolves and wolves in it).
2. Silver Bullet - based on the novel, Cycle of the Werewolf, by Stephen King.
3. The Howling - yeah, it's a bit cheesy, but I still get a kick out of it.
4. Van Helsing - da-rool for Hugh Jackman, lol.
5. Chasing the Mailman - I really like this book. 
6. MTV's Teen Wolf series - I am in love with that show!
7. The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings - this is an excellent reference book.
8. The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters - another great reference book for the writer or the curious.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Bonus Day: Two Reviews

Review One: A Cowboy's Heart
By J.M. Snyder

Publisher JMS Books LLC
ASIN: B007773PPG
Transgender, erotica, GBLT, historical

Every now and then I read a GBLT title to brush up on what’s being published. This time I saw J.M. Synder’s, A Cowboy’s Heart, as a free download. Since I’d never read the author’s work before, I thought I’d give one of her titles a shot.

And I was pleasantly surprised.

As many of you know, I’m really difficult to please when it comes to reading material. Seriously, you have no idea how many books I wade through because they’re A) poorly written, B) poorly edited, C) a Yawnsville plot, and D) the list goes on. If the first chapter doesn’t suck me in and if after leafing through it reading a few pages here and there the book still doesn’t interest me, I usually toss it aside or hit the delete button. So, when I opened A Cowboy’s Heart on my iPad, it was nice to find something that intrigued me.

The main hero, Tommy, is young (19 if my memory serves) and just learning about his sexuality, but he knows he yearns for the touch of the same sex and he’s smitten with his boss, Hal. They work on a ranch, so whenever the other hired hands go to town to buy the painted ladies’ time at the bar, Tommy dreams of being with Hal. However, one payday his co-workers drag him to the local watering hole and that’s where Tommy meets “Lila”, one of the “soiled doves.”

There’s just one problem—well, a problem as Lila sees it. She’s not who she appears to be. Then a second half to her problem arises. She finds herself drawn to Tommy, and when Tommy keeps coming back to see her, things start to snowball until the two find themselves falling in love. As a result, Tommy realizes a few things about his feelings for his boss, Hal, too.

Now, when I review, I don’t give away the entire plot. Suffice it to say that the historical elements are wonderful right down to the clothing and the setting. The plot is good, and Ms. Snyder’s writing style is pleasant and kept me reading.

But one thing about this novel truly kept me turning pages: Lila’s POV. I found her side of the story much more interesting, and it compelled me to find out more about her, why she chose to don the garb of a saloon harlot, and what made her tick as a person. I also got a kick out of the madam who first discovered Lila’s secret. When I read the line where she told Lila the eye color she was using just wasn’t her, I burst out laughing because I saw and heard the madam in my head so clearly. Making me laugh out loud while reading is a tough thing to do, so kudos to you, J.M.!

If you enjoy the GLBT genres with a historical flair, I highly recommend A Cowboy’s Heart, and if you’d like to buy the book, click on the cover above or the link below and either one will take you to the author’s page where you can scroll down and find links to several of your favorite e-book distributors. Or, if you’re one of those diehard Amazon shoppers, you can find the book HERE.


Review Two: Unspoken Promises

By Becca Dale

Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Contemporary romance, cowboys, western

Sometimes I cuss my wireless Internet until the air turns blue. I went through trials of cyber fire to download Unspoken Promises by Becca Dale. Often when this happens, I end up so frustrated I say “Aw, the hell with it!” and I give up. However, as an author and an editor who has penned and edited western romances, I’ve been very intrigued by Decadent Publishing’s new Western Escape line. I was determined to get my free copy.

Three distributor’s sites would not cooperate with my wireless provider. Finally, after about thirty minutes of aggravation, I managed to get the book from Smashwords, crawled onto the bed, and opened the title on my iPad.

Bear in mind that Unspoken Promises is a short story. However, the author’s writing style is so professional and fluid it took me only seconds to fall in love with the story. My only complaint is that it was too short. In just a few minutes I grew very attached to Treynor, the hero, and Billie, the heroine.

There’s a misunderstanding that threatens their love, and when Billie has grown up seeing lies between her parents forgiven over and over, she fears the worst when Treynor is seen with another woman.

True love, new beginnings, determined hearts, and a great backdrop of a western town, a small farm with a lovely quarter horse, and a handsome cowboy who can melt a nun’s panties...what more could you ask for? So, I’m happy I kept fighting my wireless provider until I could download this li’l gem.

Now go get Unspoken Promises and enjoy a quick, lovely read!

Download at Decadent Publishing, but you can also get it at,, and

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.