Monday, April 29, 2013

Alternate Plan

Writing is...frustrating. It's especially so when you have huge distractions from everyday life. And like many writers, I bought into the admonishments...write every day...keep writing, even when you don't feel like it...BICHOK (butt in chair, hands of keyboard).


Little is accomplished except my increasing frustration. Time out. Time out, I say! There are only so many directions the mind can go.

Perhaps, once my 'stuff' is back in order, then there will be room in the fuzzy brain for writing. So I'm taking a short sabbatical to organize the rest of my life. I'm giving myself permission to take care of my other obligations without feeling like a failure because I'm not writing.

I admire those writers who can plow on through thick and thin, through the mire of family drama, poor health, and financial emergencies. I can't. And I refuse to feel guilty about that.

Perhaps with all the extra 'contemplation' time, I'll figure out what direction my stories are taking. That would be a good thing to know. In the meantime, they say organization is good for the soul.


Sunday, April 28, 2013


With great reluctance, I've changed my blog settings to require commenters to provide an ID and word verification. I despise WV. But I also despise the spammers who are regularly hitting my blog. So. There you have it.

If you can't identify yourself, you can't comment.

I admit some of the comments are amusing in their obscurity. And some are just weird. Of course, in the past I've received comments that were pretty strange.

When I post the blog on Facebook, folks don't even comment, mostly taking the fast way out with a 'Like'. I wonder what would happen if Facebook had a 'Dislike' button?

Anyway...Almost all comments are welcome.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mattress Tales

After twenty-five years, we bought a new mattress and box springs. Our old bed had gone from comfortably broken in to pitifully sagging. The thing is, we were used to the swaybacked, lumpy mattress. We both knew exactly where to position our bodies for the best chance to sleep.

And then we replaced the bed.

The hunk and I are built on generous lines so we bought a firm mattress. Well. I can attest that it's definitely FIRM. The bed is also about six inches. My feet don't touch the floor now when I sit on the side.

In the past, we had a memory foam topper (three inches thick). When we add that, I'll need a ladder to get in bed.

The upside? It no longer resembles sleeping on a bowl of Jello. I used to wake every time the hunk rolled over. Nope. This bed is like a rock. I'm pretty sure it would stand firm even in an earthquake, though I don't want to test that.

There's nothing like a firm foundation in your retirement...


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Friendly Obsolescence

The longer you live, the more friends you acquire. Over my lifetime, I've collected quite a few. But...that doesn't mean you keep them.

With a few exceptions, friends rotate through our lives, appearing, sharing experiences, and then moving on to be replaced by new friends. Sometimes a change in friends is due to new jobs or locations. Other times, the change is due to differing interests or life circumstances. None of these things are bad. It just is.

Quite frankly, most of us barely keep up with our family members, let alone a passel of friends. I believe we really only have two or three 'close' friends at one time. All others are somewhere on that second level of friendship. You're interested in their wellbeing and the accomplishments of their family members, you enjoy hearing from them, but they are not the first person you would call/write to share important news or in an emergency.

One of the things that has changed with the advent of social media is the flood of personal information pouring into the public purview. There are many situations aired on Facebook and Twitter that would never have been shared in the past with anyone except a very close friend or family member.

On one level, I wonder what the evolving role of the friend might be. If we share every intimate detail with our wide world of friends, then doesn't that reduce our friend to cheerleader, supporting us from the sidelines? Could this be why we have fewer true best friends and more casual acquaintances?

I don't know. But when an old friend reaches out to make the connection, I find it sad when we're reduced to sharing our most current information--and then moving on. It's the way of life. It still hurts.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sunny Disposition

Some folks thrive on bad weather. Blizzard outside? Excellent. Pouring rain? Wonderful. Warm sunshine? Not so much.

I'm a contrarian and rebel. Weather doesn't do much for me, whether sunny, cloudy, hot or cold. As long as I don't have to go out in it. Yep. If I can watch it from inside in my controlled temperature apartment, then all is fine with my world.

I've lived in frigid climates. And tropical. And in between places. My favorite? Indoors.

I do go out. And if I have an appointment, the weather is immaterial. But my attitude may not be as sunny if I have to dash between the raindrops or snowflakes to get where I'm going. I'm may not have a warm personality if I have to fend off high temps and high humidity.

I've noticed that as I've aged, my internal thermostat has aged with me and no longer works. On a hot day outside, I have volcanic hot flashes. On a cold day, I can't get warm regardless of the number of layers I wear.

Indoors. That's my place. And I'll have a perpetual sunny disposition.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Going On

Life can be tough. And heart-breaking. And devastatingly abrupt. But until we die, it doesn't stop. Disasters large and small occur every single day. For some families, the catastrophe takes place on the world-wide stage. For others, the calamity is private. In either case, our neighbors, friends, and even extended family members, continue on with their lives.

In the midst of personal tragedy, we may believe life will not go on. It's difficult to comprehend how it possibly could. Don't people know how our heart is broken? Don't they see how we grieve?

Yes, they do. They, too, have had their share of grief and heart-ache. They have suffered and survived their own tragedies. And having experienced their own disasters, they have learned that most basic truth. Life goes on.

In the immediate aftermath of every disaster, those who lead and speak for us reiterate this truth. "We will survive this. We will go on."

While dealing with a deeply personal event in my own life, I turned to a friend and demanded, "How long? How long will I cry and grieve?"

Her answer. "Until you no longer need to cry."

While the victims mourn, those around them take up the burden of continuing life. Providing shelter. Feeding the hungry. Pursuing the guilty. Cleaning and repairing the broken. Keeping the necessities of life provided.

That is our humanity. We pick up, support, comfort, and go on.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Like me! Like me!

Sigh. I'm gonna climb out on a limb all by myself and talk about something that bugs me--'liking' folks on Facebook.


We're not back in high school, desperately hoping to be one of the popular clique. Really. The person with the most 'likes' or 'friends' does not win anything. They don't sell more of their products, whatever those might be. And frankly, I don't care how many friends I have myself, let alone worrying about how many someone else has.

In general, if someone asks to be a friend, I accommodate them. If they want to like my author page, that's great! But I don't request strangers to be my friends. And I only 'like' pages/individuals who have some meaning or interest for me. That might not be every Susie, Opal, and Junie.

The reality is most folks can't manage to keep up with more than about thirty people on a day-by-day basis. All the rest of the friends and likes sort of fall by the wayside. Come now, honesty here. How many people do you really keep in touch with on a daily basis? Weekly? Yearly?

For the most part, I think we're all surrendering to the mass manipulation of corporate interests. And I find, I'd rather not. I choose to use Facebook, rather than let Facebook use me. I choose to go where I want, like who I want to like, friend who I wish.

That's who I am...a rebel.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blast of Hope

Like many others across the world, I watched the TV coverage of the bomb blasts in Boston. There was chaos, crying, anguish, and confusion. But I saw something else. In the midst of death and destruction, I saw hope and kindness.

Have you ever noticed? In every disaster, we come together. We--the human race--put aside our differences and rush to help. We drop what we're doing and find ways to assist those in need, whether it's directions to a safe place, or rendering aid to the wounded.

That's the miracle I witnessed. People helping people. People comforting people. People mourning loss and rejoicing for those who were safe. As long as we show compassion and love in the face of terror, there is hope.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Naked Truth

Through shared experience--personal observation--I've arrived at a couple conclusions about general nakedness. My conclusions hold true for only two circumstances. The individuals are totally alone OR they are alone with their partner(s).

1) Men are more comfortable strutting around in their all-together.

2) Unless in bed, occupied with a partner or sleeping, women are more likely to slip into some type of body covering than stroll around naked.

You may wonder why I bring this up. Yeah, you might. Well, here's the thing. With a very few, very few exceptions, regardless of genre, the first thing men do after sex in any book I've read if put on SOMETHING--even if they're just going to the bathroom. Briefs, trousers, a towel...something. Why? It's counter to everything I know about men.

The individuals are alone. No kids, other folks, yada, yada. And yet, this odd behavior. Through careful polling and listening to other women talk, I've collected a lot of stories about men who revel in the opportunity to go naked. They watch their sports programs, guzzle their beer, cook breakfast, laze on the couch STARK NAKED.

Now women, in general, don't. We're a bit more fastidious. We shrug on a robe or nighty if we're gonna go cook. Probably because we have experience with spattering grease and hot water. If we're going to watch TV, we're more likely to put on a sloppy t-shirt and panties or shorts, or if it's winter, maybe even sweats.

I have noticed temperature doesn't seem to affect whether or not a man will dress. Winter or summer, if the opportunity arises, they'll shed their clothes and stalk around in naked splendor.

I've pondered this difference for a long while. I believe there is subtle passive-aggressive intimidation involved. "Here I am, willing and ready to assert my dominance."

And women, in response, cover up. We send our own silent reply, "Not now."

So, when writing, I suspect authors subconsciously immediately 'dress' their heroes to remove this threat, to signal their hero's acquiescence with the new less threatening circumstances. Sex is finished. Now the characters are on more equal footing.

Is this important? I don't know. But I found it interesting.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time...Oh, how those words conjure up tales of delight, romance and mystery. Who among us doesn't recall the beginning of Cinderella or Snow White? Those simple early tales led to more complicated stories of daring-do. We graduated to myths and legends--Paul Bunyan, Davy Crockett, Molly Pitcher, Paul Revere. As we matured, we explored far horizons, A Wrinkle in Time, Narnia, Hogwarts.

Now we're adults, seeking stories with depth and emotion, tales about men and women who gaze upon their inner souls, who grow and learn as they mature. We yearn for happy endings and sigh in contentment when the characters overcome obstacles and demonstrate their worthiness.

Once upon a time...that's the essence of good story-telling.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Kissing Bits

In 2006 I ventured out into the world of publishing, never expecting anything I wrote to actually make it past the submission process. I was a bit shocked when I was offered a contract--excited, yes, but not really ready to believe my good fortune. Then, I settled in to see if I could replicate my first attempt.

Imagine my surprise when that's exactly what happened. I couldn't contain my excitement as I was offered contracts for a second and then a third book.

There was one small fly in the ointment.

Some folks were...takeaback at the 'kissing bits'. I've had some time to consider this since then. And I've decided this might be a reflection on personal views of the action in the bedroom. I know individuals who cannot mention their own body parts without lowering their voice as though they're speaking about something unmentionable. Now, that must make it difficult to share information with their partner or doctor.

An acquaintance of mine suggested this was natural modesty. I'm not so sure. I believe it's partly embarrassment--an uncomfortable acknowledgement that we ALL have sexual thoughts and feelings. And it's the stark reality that most women have participated in sex at sometime during their lives. Because's pretty difficult to get pregnant, otherwise. Not impossible. But the alternatives certainly take planning and effort.

There's touchy denial going on there, a sly secret knowledge that pretends the truth is hidden in a deep, dark closet. In reality, sex, along with eating and sleeping is one of the activities almost all adult humans share. Pretending we don't is akin to denying we have hunger or a need to rest.

Now I don't advocate public sex. I don't even advocate public discussion about what we personally do--or don't--in the bedroom. But I do think no man, or woman, should be embarrassed by the language in your average erotic romance. If those words, those names for body parts make the reader squirm that much...doesn't that say more about our strangeness, than the writers?

The first time I ever read the word 'breasts', at around age eight, it was in the Bible. Song of Solomon. The author clearly revels in the physical attributes of his lover. He admires and loves her. I have noticed that book is entirely skipped over in church services. Why is that? I was taught that EVERY part of the Bible is equally important. I suspect this goes back to those secret, hushed whispers in the living rooms across the land.

We are the only ones who can shine a light on the secrets in the closet. No wonder our kids have no way to speak to us, no way to frame their questions. After all, our actions speak so loudly they drown out our words. Sex is bad. Dirty. Secret.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Train Wreck

When a writer sets out to begin a story, they generally have some notion about plot and characters, if not exactly all the details. Of course, there are unexpected changes that crop up. But for the most part, the story proceeds along the original lines.

Until it doesn't.

Back in my early writing days, I planned a little trilogy. It wasn't anything exciting...three sisters who go to Camelot to find husbands among the Knights of the Round Table. On the whole, except for the historical aspects, the idea was pretty basic romance fluff.

I sat down at the computer to rough in the story with a little prologue. My thought was to use the prologue for each of the three stories to tie them together.


Well, that didn't work. The moment I set the characters on paper, they seized the story and ran with it. I never got that train back on the track despite my best efforts to wrestle it back in place. No...every time I thought I might have a way to regain control, a new character would pop up, seize a plot point and bat the entire story off in the woods or dunk it down to the dungeons.


Finally, I conceded. My simple idea turned into a wild romp through the halls of Camelot, peopled by offbeat characters and a cast of thousands. Dragons, fairies, firebirds, oddity or weirdness was too much.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. The characters did it. In a cave. In the woods. In a pond. In the Abbey. Even in Sher Wood Forest. And so on.

Flowers of Camelot. Sexy strangeness galore. Chrysanthemum, Honeysuckle, Daffodil, Magnolia and Larkspur. Or if you prefer print, Carnal Camelot and Lust in Camelot. Available on Wednesday.