Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Fun! Winter Driving In Minnesota

This indie author is one happy ol' girl today. Why? Because the Twin Cities got it's first "snow event" for the winter (Yes, it took until February 28th and we are very spoiled this year!) and she is sitting inside, not having to drive. I spent years as a road warrior on the freeways of the metro area selling print advertising. Seventeen years to be exact and not one accident. Thankfully.

Because of that I am very familiar with what happens during the first major snow of the season. First, you have the drivers that go five miles an hour on the freeway because a few random flakes are coming down. No, it is not slippery; and no there is not a problem with visibility. These could be people new to the area from warmer states. Yes, I would like to think that.  Unfortunately, too many of them have Minnesota license plates. Every year a certain percentage of people are totally taken off guard when a snowflake drops in the Land of the Frozen Tundra. Imagine! Snow in Minnesota!

Then we have the "let's hit the brake every 5 to 10 seconds to make sure I can stop, regardless of how many cars are behind me" and the "I can change lanes without looking or using a blinker AND I don't have to have more than two feet between cars to get in there...because I have SUPER POWERS! Of course, these people are on the freeway day in and day out, until they finally total enough cars that they get the message.  Hopefully they don't kill too many other people in the meantime.

Next is the macho man (or woman) with the pick up truck or SUV with 4 wheel drive. It does not matter if there is solid ice on the road! No! Their 4 wheel drive is special. It can go 70 miles an hour on ice!!! No other vehicle has been known to be able to do this, but they are the exception. Yup. They sure are. They fall into the exceptional ahole category. Thank you for risking other peoples lives while you try to make up for having a short...ah, never mind. Trying to be a bit less earthy.  For maybe two minutes.

Lastly we have the old reliable tailgator. They show up rain, sleet, snow and sun. It does not matter the weather, these folks need love so badly that they want to attach themselves to your bumper. It makes them feel like they belong. Oh, they belong. I am just not saying where.
Yes, it is a carnival on the freeways every time it snows! Stuntmen, barkers, magicians...spine tingling thrills every minute! I am so glad I did not have to buy a ticket to the carnival today. Can't say I miss Mr. Macho or Ms. Ineedafriend one bit.

Happy Driving. I think I will have another hot buttered rum and light the fire.
Then I will continue writing, while Mr. Super Powers once again performs his magic tricks on I-94.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wanderlust Movie Should Wander Off, Along With The Grey

Dave and I decided to go to the movie last night.  We had seen previews for Wanderlust and thought it might be funny.  So, off we went.  Tickets were bought, popcorn was bought, and we settled in.

This time the reviews were right. Wanderlust was a disappointment.  Very cliche, very predicable.  On a scale of 1 to 10 we both agreed that it was a 4 at best.  What was Jennifer Anniston thinking when she took this part?  If this is the best Hollywood can do for a comedy then please stop making them!  Sure, we laughed a couple of times.  But, all in all, it was mundane.

This is the second time in about a month we have been disappointed.  Last time we thought we were going to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  I went to get the popcorn while Dave stood in line for tickets.  Soon Dave came running up to me, telling me that the movie we wanted to see was no longer playing there.  I had the popcorn, so we decided to see The Grey.  The write-up had sounded quite good.
B-o-r-i-n-g! Liam Neeson, really? This is the best part you could find?  Talk about tedious.  Yeah, yeah, a handful of you survived a plane crash.  Yeah, yeah, wolves are after you.  We know.  Believe me, we know.  And after about 45 minutes we simply do not care.  I wanted to scream "Eat the damn humans already so we can go home!"  I wanted to ask Dave to leave, but figured maybe he wanted to stay so I said nothing.  When we were leaving, Dave said he almost asked me to leave about 45 minutes into it, too.

There was nothing suspenseful or anxiety ridden about The Grey.  It was torture, but only because it was so unexciting.  I could not care about any of the characters for some reason and because of that I really did not care what happened to them.

At least we saw The Descendants in between these two.  That was excellent.  We also saw The Vow which was an okay date movie. Not anything you have to see, but fair.

Thankfully the theatre we go to is only $4.00 per ticket, and they use real butter on their popcorn.  When we see a movie that disappoints us it is nice to know we had not taken out a bank loan to buy the tickets. 

Next time I am bored at a movie I am going to nudge Dave and ask if he wants to go home.  For $4.00 each it just isn't worth the tedium of sitting through yet another Wanderlust or The Grey. I can sleep in my recliner at home!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Eating Half of What You Order

For the past couple of months I have been trying to eat less food.  Some weeks are more successful than others.  It has been a gradual undertaking.  I try, for instance, to only eat half of what I order in a restaurant.  I have gotten much better at that this last month. I just seem to remember easier. 

I seem to remember easier because my body tells me more clearly that I have had enough.  It really has helped to do that, even though at first I would only remember to do it every so often.  Now it has become almost a routine.  I think the next time I go out I will just ask for the to go box when I order.  That way I can put half of everything in there right away and won't have to hope I think about it.

I don't know if I will lose weight from this but I would think so. I mean, I am eating half of what I used to eat, right? The other half serves as lunch or dinner another day or night. I do know I fell a lot better when I eat less at sitting. I have more energy and don't feel that infamous "crash and burn" most people feel after they have stuffed themselves

Speaking of having the other half for lunch or dinner another time, I don't think there is anything more boring than thinking up a lunch for one.  Since I write, I am home pounding on the keyboard and suddenly I am hungry.  I have to tell you, I am sick to death of yogurt, soup, deli salads, cheese sandwiches.  Yawn.  Maybe a couple raw veggies on the side.  Yawn again.  Throw some Cheetos or Fritos on there.  Yawn once more.  Even the fattening "same old" is "same old". Therefore, I am pretty darn excited when I have a half of a restaurant meal waiting for me!

We ate out with relatives Saturday, and I happily packaged up half of my bourbon burger and fries.  (Yes, I know they are fattening.  I am trying to eat less, not bore myself into a coma.)  My brother-in-law even gave me his portion of homemade bbq kettle chips.  Great!  Those would be used for yet another time.  Then we got into the SUV.  Dave and I were in the back.  I checked my to go box and it was firmly on the seat in between us.  I reached for my guessed it.  The box went sailed to the floor of the car.  Opened right up and deposited the food directly into dust and ice melt.

Goodbye exciting lunch today. How I longed for my half of bourbon burger!  But, alas, it was only a tease of a memory as I choked down another cheese sandwhich.  Yawn.  Almost made me wish I had kept it, ice melt and all.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Love Songs or Obsession?

As an indie author it only stands to reason that I pay attention to words.  Even as a teenager, the lyrics of popular songs meant even more to me than the music.  My husband is the opposite.  He likes songs for the beat or the melody.  Most of the time he does not know the lyrics.  Of course, he used to play the drums, so that makes perfect sense.

I used to think about how the lyrics showed undying love for a person.  How romantic, I thought.  Then I noticed something.  Most of the words to songs about love aren't about love at all.  They are about obsession.  They are about the person singing the song; all the things another person makes them feel.

Pay attention this week to lyrics.  Love is about what you can do for another person to make them happy or make their life more wonderful.  It is not about what they can do for you or how they make you feel.  Sure, it is great to feel those things, but that is not love.  It can be unhealthy romance.  It can be lust.  But in itself, those feelings are not love.  Love, you see, is not narcissistic or selfish.  Lust and "in love" can very much be those two things.
Why do we categorize possessive songs and songs about fixation as love songs? Maybe that partly explains why so many young girls put up with abusive boyfriends.  Do they think that it is love that drives those boyfriends to wanting to control their every move?  Do they think that means the guy worships them?

I don't know.  But I always found it creepy that Every Breath You Take by Sting was considered a romantic song that people rushed out onto the dance floor to celebrate.  Really?  Every breath you take, every step you make, I'll be watching you.  Ummm. Ok. Thanks for giving me a heads up that I need to call the cops.
Songs about how someone makes the person feels.  Songs about how they want to spend every second with you.  Songs about how you are on their mind every minute of every day.  Songs about how all they do is dream about you.  Hey, I like being important.  But I don't want to be a butterfly pinned to a piece of pager for anyone to admire.  Sorry.  My wings are meant for flying.

We need to remember that we all need to fly.  Once in awhile, often if we are lucky, we fly with another.  But they never clip our wings.  And they never cause us to crash to the ground when we go off for awhile on our own.
Love isn't about owning another person.  It is about allowing them the freedom to fully live and thrive.  Love is about them, not you. Sometimes you are fortunate enough that real love is reciprocated. That is when your heart really sings of love.  And the lyrics are beautiful.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gideon Grows (The Pleasure of Watching a Baby Grow)

Some of you may remember when I posted about the baby being born next door.  I had posted that Gideon was born in August and we became grandparents to him, since his blood grandparents are all out of state.  (See Loving Gideon).

This has been quite an experience for two childless by choice free spirits!  Gideon is now six months old.  What fun it has been to see the changes that occur in six short months!  Since we did not have children we really have not been part of that.  Sure, we saw other people's babies, but we didn't see them even monthly all of the time.  To see a baby a couple of times a week is amazing!

Gideon is now eating rice cereal, carrots and peas.  I have fed him all of those and it is a joyful experience.  How someone can get so excited about mashed up peas is puzzling...but I enjoy seeing such pure, uncomplicated pleasure. 

He can also roll over from front to back and keep rolling.  No more leaving the room when he is on floor.  He is extremely interested in trying to hoist himself up.  Soon, he will be crawling and then this Grandma will be in for a lot more exercise every time she babysits.  I look forward to it, yet I hate seeing him leave that precious infant stage.

Gideon is teething.  I let him chew on my finger and it feels like there are several possible teeth coming, even in the back.  His mom says they got several teeth at once, so maybe that is what is going on here.  He can get a bit testy when his teeth are bothering him.  I call it "throwing an Appleton".  I don't know how many of you remember the cartoon Tom Terrific.  Crabby Appleton was the villian.  For some reason I LOVED Crabby Appleton.  I think it was because he was so expressive. Gideon is not nearly as crabby as I would think a teething baby would be.  Maybe that is yet to come.

Gampa Dave is a favorite of Gideon's.  How he smiles and laughs when Gampa plays with him.  When Dave is in the room, Gideon's has eyes only for him.  I am glad.  I know how much Dave loves him, and he does not get to see him as much as I do.

I babysit every Friday and sometimes other days or nights.  We usually get to see him at least two times a week.  I am trying to figure out how to kidnap him, but I am afraid Jen and Shon would know to check our house first.  Sigh. 

Besides, it is nice not to have the obligations, just the pleasures.  What fun it is to finally get to watch a person develop in all of their stages, but not have the constant responsibility or finanical obligations.  We can jump in the car and go places, sleep as late as we want; not worry as much as a parent.  Still, I now think about things that might be a danger to him.  Loving a child definitely changes your perspective on everything. 

Last Friday Gideon was showing me that he had discovered his tongue (photo is not Gideon).  He was proud to show it and would stick it out and then laugh.  I then would say "Your tongue!  Oh, look, Gideon's tongue!"  After a while, I asked "Show me your tongue." He did.  I tried several times and he would show it.  A new trick, compliments of Gamma Caddy and Gideon.

My nicknames for him are Gumdrop and Gid Kid.  I try to call him Gumdrop as much as possible because I know that soon enough he will rebel against that name, demanding that I stop calling him that.  Then it will be only a happy memory of baby times.

Babies. Aren't they something?  We used to roll our eyes whenever people went on and on about them...and now we know.  Still glad we did not have them, but damn.  Babies. Yeah, they are something special. I have a feeling Gideion will be very special to us his whole life.  And, even when he is 30, he will still be my Gumdrop.  I just won't tell him to his face.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Facebook Overload

As an Indie Author I have found Facebook invaluable for finding book reviewers and bloggers.  As any indie can tell you, reviews from bloggers and book reviewers are imperative to being taken seriously as an author.  Friends can, and do, write reviews for authors.  However, strangers can always tell when a review is biased.  Therefore, we authors spend many hours searching for reviewers and inquiring if our book can please be reviewed.  Facebook has helped a lot in that respect.

However, a few months back Facebook changed the look of the newsfeed.  Now so much information comes across that any personal friend's message is likely to get lost.  I thought I had solved it by making each of my contacts a "close friend".  Ha! I thought smugly, I will just click on close friends and lose a lot of the other stuff. 

Unfortunately, Facebook decided that I want to know every move each "close friend" makes.  I now have to see each comment they make on any of their other friends posts, even though I don't know those people.  I have to see every picture strangers post because a "friend" of mine commented on it.  This makes it impossible to catch everything someone says that I actually would like to comment on, unless I quit writing and painting so that can Facebook full time.  Therefore, I might as well not be on Facebook at all.

Plus it really feels like an invasion of privacy.  I don't think it is every friend of a friend's business what I say on Facebook, nor do they need to see everything I post.  Evidently others feel this way, too, because I am seeing a whole lot more of just generic sayings and photos being posted than I am original thoughts.  Why take the time to share your thoughts if they just get lost in all of the yada yada with strangers that Facebook decided we should care about?

Yeah, I know some people have said you "just hover over a persons name and click on something or another" and you won't see all of those extra posts.  Not only am I not sure if that will then also eliminate the comments I SHOULD see, but I simply don't have the time to do that to every contact I have on Facebook.  Unless you have about 10 friends on there it would take hours or days. 

I used to really love going on there.  Now it gets me tense.  Too much information by too many people I don't know and the fear that I am missing posts from people I do care about.  I post a lot of things about my writing.  I don't want my friends to think I am only interested in sharing MY stuff...but I am afraid it may look that way.  Of course, they may not see my stuff either.  I have noticed a drop off in commenta about anything I post, both professional and personal.  Unless you hang on facebook all day and make it your social center I think it is just too hard to look through the mess and find the posts to comment on.

I hear more changes are in the works.  So far, the changes have not been for the good.  I would like things back to clean and simple.  That way I could actually see what my contacts are saying and show them I give a damn by commenting more often.  So much for "social" networking.  This is just a bunch of information jammed down our throats and it is no longer effective or fun.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sex or bowling? (Three dates, sex ,or you're out?)

As an indie author I have the ability to create all kinds of situations for my characters.  Gastien was not the type of man to "date".  When he did fall in love, he fought it the whole way.  Yet he told himself they could be friends. Therefore, they walked a lot; sat and talked a lot.  Got to know each other.
That is something often missing in these times.  Couples tend to go to bed by the third date at the latest.  I heard from a single friend that the unspoken rule is if you don't end up in bed by then, the relationship is going nowhere and it is time to meet someone else.  Really? You know each other well in 3 dates?

I am no prude.  In fact, most people would say I am way too earthy.  But isn't sex, well, the most intimate thing you can do with someone?  How can you want to share that intimacy with someone you don't even know?  It isn't  recreation.  Do daters today look at each other and say, "What do you think?  A movie?  Bowling? Or sex?  What do you feel like?"

See, the problem is, once you have sex that is all you are interested in doing with each other.  It is our nature.  During that high of "in love" and being turned on, we would rather screw ourselves to death than talk.  So once you have sex, all getting to really know the other person stops. You would rather try a new position with them then find out a few new facts.

If you marry quickly, while you are still in that high "you make me hot just by breathing" zone and have not gotten to know his quirks, her dislikes, each others beliefs about life's major issues you usually end up with someone incompatible.  A few years later you are miserable and divorced.

Why am I an authority?  Because I married at 17, after dating for 3 years.  Everyone said we were too young and it would not last.  We will be celebrating 39 years this June.  Yes, we had sex before marriage.  (Yes, my husband technically could have been arrested for it.  Small towns.  Different times.)  But before we did, we had hours and hours (months, actually..even over a year) of being together and talking, talking, talking.  In between the kissing, kissing, kissing.  There is something wonderfully erotic is just the knowing you aren't getting to the final act...wanting to...not not yet.

I think if people got to know each other before jumping into bed we would have more successful marriages.  Or more long term partnerships.  I am not talking morals.  Really, it isn't about "waiting until marriage" or "respecting me in the morning".  It is about respecting yourself.  Thinking yourself important enough that you want to know you LIKE and TRUST the other person before you share that most intimate act.  That does not often happen in 3 dates.

Call me old fashioned.  I would actually want to know how a person feels about social issues, children, animals, drinking, religion or not, all kinds of things before I decided them worthy of sharing intimacy.  That takes time. I would want to watch how he reacts in different situations, how he treats others. Once I knew they were a person whose beliefs and opinions I admired (even if somewhat different than mine), all bets would be off. The sheets would be hot and sweaty and we would seldom come up for air. 
But before that?  Sorry.  Sex is more sacred to my soul than that.  I am a woman, not a dog in heat.  I don't want you to respect me in the morning.  I want you to respect me all of the time.  More importantly, I want to know that I respect you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

But today, I Paint (The Pure Bliss of the Color)

As an indie author, there is no end to the tasks I should be doing.  Marketing my first two books in the series, finding additional reviewers, and writing that third book.  I have about 46,000 words done in the first, rough draft.  If I want it done for spring, I need to start flying that plane toward home.  Yes, I know that.

But today, I paint.  I will go to class at the studio of a dear artist friend and mentor, Susan Fryer Voigt. (Check out her work by clicking on her name. The photos are not her work, nor are they mine.)  Amazing artist.  There, I will give myself permission to get lost in creation, making love to the color.  There, I don't have distractions and my books can't call out to me to help them be seen, help them exist.  They might be calling out, but I am too far away and can't hear them.  For a few hours, I become who I have always been from the beginning of my creation.  A conduit for the creative force through color.

It is an odd life to be called by the color.  No one gets it except other artists.  No matter what else you are doing at any given moment, the deepest part of your soul longs to be united with your paints; your brush.  For an artist, that is the only time that they are fully alive.  Then and during orgasm, which is the closest any of us get to our spirituality while here on earth.  We die for a brief moment during that release (the French call it the "little death") and when an artist is one with the color, their mortal self dies for a little while, too.

That union, that bliss, cannot be denied forever.  My easel sits with my latest work in progress (not this photo) out where I constantly see it.  I hope that I will take more time to enter that nirvana if I constantly am called...but other things have to be done.  Like trying to find a way to make a little income by writing.  And so it sits, impatiently waiting, wondering why we only have an occasional fling when we both know it is my deepest love.

Reality makes it so.  Don't get me wrong.  I love to write.  It is enjoyable and I have fun with it.  I am good at it.  It is also a long shot at providing any sustainable income, but less so than painting.  Since I have already spent most of my life working at careers that don't fulfill my calling, I have decided to try to make a go of it.  It takes time and luck and LOTS of work. I might fail in the end.  Writers, like painters, are as common as dust on my coffee table. But at least I am finally trying. 

In the meantime, my lover waits.  Color knows no sense of time.  It just knows when we are apart and when we become one.  When we merge, I understand what it means to fly. My deepest love, how I wish we could be one all of the time. This love is different than the love of another person.  This is the love of the force that made you.  This is that force speaking through your hand. It is ecstasy.
Yes, my books need me.  Gastien Part 1 and 2 languish far down on the list and deserve to be in the Top 100.  Book 3 is waiting to be born.  I know I need several books to get the momentum really going.  I know that. And I love them deeply.

But today, I paint.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What is a Real Valentine?

Valentine's Day has always been a favorite holiday of mine.  Ever since I was a little girl, I thought it was really romantic.  My parents gave me valentines and we exchanged valentines in school.  You had to put a valentine in every classmate's valentine box so that some did not get more than others.

But what impressed me the most was the valentine candy my mom would get from my dad.  It wasn't terribly expensive.  People were not as materialistic then.  But it was always a red, heart shaped box, sometimes with ribbon or velvet on it. To me, it was extremely elegant and beautiful.  Something a princess or a movie star would receive.
Now businesses do their best to ruin the day.  It is all about making money.  I am all for businesses making money, but not when they do it by pressuring partners to spend more than they should, making men feel "less than" if they can't, and making women feel they aren't quite loved enough if they don't recieve the "Best".

The jewelry ads really irritate me.  Yes, I imagine some people that have a lot of money give expensive jewelry.  Most people don't have a lot of money, or if they do they also have children, charities, and a myriad of more worthy things to spend it on.  I am not saying your spouse is not worthy.  I AM saying your spouse does not need to be treated like an expensive callgirl.  Not unless she has self worth issues.  And if she does, perhaps you would be better off finding a new person to be your valentine.

Real women, women who know their value and truly love their men (or women) for the person they are, don't need a diamond bracelet or ring, a several hundred dollar meal, chocolates that cost $50 for six.  If you can afford that by the way, by all means give it.  But be more original than the stooge who is tricked into giving it on Valentine's Day.  Give it on a regular day.  Really suprirse her.  Don't cowtow to the businesses greed on this day that is supposed to be about love and lovers.

A real valentine is authentic.  They look the person they love in the eye and tell them how much they really mean.  How they always look forward to seeing them every day.  That their heart beats faster whenever they get a smile, a kiss, a kind endearment from their partner. 

A real valentine cleans up after the valentine meal if they could not spend money out somewhere reasonable.  Or they cook.  A real valentine watches the children while their partner takes some "me" time. In fact, a real valentine does half of the work around the house, if both partners work at jobs or careers, not just once a year.

A real valentine remembers to show that they mean those fancy words by following up-if not every single day-most days, by always doing at least one small, intimate thing to show their love. It doesn't take money.  It takes giving of oneself.

A real valentine does not have to shower their lover with expensive gifts.  They automatically know that the most precious gifts of all are true love, attention, and time.  Those things will always be cherished because, dear valentines, those things are priceless.

How do I know?  I am one of the lucky ones.  I feel cherished the majority of days. I didn't marry money, or fame, or power.  But I did marry an authenic valentine.
I love you forever, David Anthony. I am so glad that you elected to be my valentine.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jumping Genres (Why I Ditched Romance)

One of the hardest decisions I had to make as an indie author regarding the publishing of my first book (Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream) was what genre to put it under. After much deliberation, I decided to put it in the Romance genre because it evolves into a love story for much of book 2 in the series (Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny). It did not fit the formula for "romance" but I argued that a great love story belonged there. In fact, I blogged about it a few weeks back. Still, it felt odd.

First of all, men really like the books and some have written reviews on them. These were not men that read romance. Because they were so adamant on the fact that they thought the books were great, it told me that I was missing out on a lot of male readers. Males who noticed that the book was a "romance" would skip over it. Also, it would not be recommended on Amazon or B&N for anyone buying a book other than a romance.These books are as much for men as women. How could I reach more men?

Secondly, I am not a romance genre fan. I seldom read them. I adore a good love story for sure. But the romance genre? Not so much. There is a hard and fast formula for the romance genre. Man meets woman (or  man meets man, etc if it is lgbt), they fall in love despite major differences, something happens that one misunderstands or takes one away, they are split apart, they come back together and they live happily ever after. Always. The story is the exact same story over and over.

When I thought of all of my favorite books, not one is categorized as a romance. They have love stories in them, but they are much, much bigger than "romance". They have flawed characters and plenty of angst. They were complete people, people who did ugly things at times.  Why was I limiting my books to a genre that frowns on that?

No, my books doesn't fit that romance formula at all. Gastien does fall in love. But decisions are not easy, life is not easy, and he has major flaws. Flaws that are not allowed in romance. He has suffered extreme abuses, both physical and mental. Sex is a way to feel close to others and a "high" that gives him brief, emotional relief from pain. He is not monogamous and says that up front. She accepts it. That is a no-no in romance. Never burst the romance readers bubble that people are not perfect, that falling in love does not cure everything, that happily ever after is not happy every second! That is not accepted.

Life is full of sadness, mistakes and regrets. Every major decision has repercussions. I don't understand a genre that hides from that. Don't get me wrong.  If people want to read the same storyline over and over and enjoy fairy tales, that is understandable. Some people have enough stress in their life that they need total escape. I get it. I like escape, too...but it needs to seem like it could happen. It needs to make me think. It needs to make me feel. I don't want to read fairy tales, and I don't want to write them. There are others much better at that.

So, after saying I was sticking to romance with angst in it, I made the switch. My books are now categorized as "historical fiction" and "family saga" (the latter because it is a series and will cover three generations). I was unsure about the change up until I pressed the buttons to change it. As soon as I did, I felt a peace. One could say that I gave up romance in the name of love. True love, the kind that really does exist, in spite of our being human.

THIS is where Gastien belongs. He is not a cookie cutter character, and he makes no apologies for what he needs in life to make him happy. He may not understand some those things ultimately makes him the opposite, but he definitely stands up for what he wants. Sophie is no pushover, though. She is a strong, vibrant woman who is able to accept his flaws because she understands the damage that was done to him and sees that he has issues he simply can't face. She loves him, in spite of his terms and those flaws. He learns to love because of her.They find a way to make it work, but not without problems.  Kind of like most of life. Nothing is perfect, Gastien less so.

I am not condoning abuse. Gastien was not abusive to her, at least not knowingly. They both were honest and up front about their needs and feelings. Accepting the imperfections and loving anyway. Isn't that what true love is all about? And isn't true love a greater story than romantic love, simply because true love happens so rarely? 

So, I guess what I am getting at is don't be afraid to change genre if you think you put your book in the wrong category.  It is okay to make a mistake.  We all do.  Especially my characters!

Friday, February 10, 2012

YUCK! Want germs?

Here are two ways that colds and flu are spread quickly that you may not even think about.  In fact, you may be guilty of doing at least one of them.  The first is something that happens in many homes.  It is done by the hostess at a party or the man or woman serving dessert.

They get up to go and get the birthday cake.  Or valentine cake, anniversary cake, any cake...or pie for that matter.  They need to cut more than one slice, of course.  The cake knife gets full of frosting after the first cut, making it almost impossible to cut a second.  What do they do?
They run their fingers across the knife and then lick their fingers!  Then they proceed to cut other slices, using that saliva filled hand to handle the pieces of cake as they put them on plates.  YUCK!  Presto, instant germs from their mouth to yours.  Most people don't even think about how unsanitary that is.  They are licking away on their fingers in front of the family and guests and happily passing the, the others.  No one says anything.  It would be rude, right? Who wants to put the hostess on the spot?  Yikes.

The second way that I want to mention is so common that I bet hundreds of colds and stomach flu's get spread this way and most people don't even realize it is being done to them.  We all eat at restaurants.  Most of us drink coffee.  Well, watch what happens the next time your server refills your cup.
Invariably, she or he rests the lip of the pot up against your cup, right where you lips have been.  If you are carrying any cold or flu germs they now transfer to the pouring lip of the pot and move on to the next person getting a refill.  Not to mention that you inherited the saliva germs of the person before you.  See that guy that looks like he hasn't seen a toothbrush in about a week?  Yeah, he just got a refill right before you.  Yummy!

I have mentioned this to servers, in a kind way.  I try to tell them I am just giving them some friendly advice.  They look at me like I am from another galaxy.  Really, I blame the restaurant owners.  They should be smart enough to instruct the servers not to do that.  If you think about it, common sense should be at work here.

I am not unusually worried about germs.  I just notice how everyone wants all kinds of cleaners for all kinds of purposes that kill all kinds of germs...but they don't blink when either of these two thing occur.  Something to think about next time you go to coffee.  Or a birthday party.

Me?  I seldom get colds or flu.  I take oil of oregano every day.  One capsule, unless I am going to be around someone ill.  Then I increase to 3 a day for 3 or 4 days.  If I know in advance that I will be visiting where there is illness (or you could be working where people are ill) I start taking 3 a day right away and continue for a week.  We have done this for about 7 years.  I have had one cold in that time that lasted longer than about a day.  Same with my husband.

That one cold was this fall, and I had forgotten to take my oil of oregano a few times.  It you decide to try it, make sure you take it on a full stomach with a full glad of water or you will get the heartburn from hell.  It works for preventing illness better than anything I know of.  Medical doctors say studies have not been done so it can't be proven.  Fine.  I will just keep on being free of colds and flu while you harp about studies.

Even so, I hate seeing these two things happen.  There is something really gross about other peoples saliva touching my cake or coffee.  Kind of ruins the enjoyment I otherwise would have had. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What Ever Happened to the Art of Serving?

WARNING: Major venting session ahead!

I was not always an indie author.  I have worked at many jobs, including over 20 years in sales.  As a teenager and again in my 20's, I was a server.  Back then they were called waitresses and waiters.  We learned the art of serving.  The number one rule was to provide service while not disturbing the diner's experience.

Oh my, has that changed over the years!  It started several years ago when servers began not only wearing name tags, but announcing their name.  There are even some restaurants where the server prints their name in huge letters on the paper tablecloth with crayon.  Cute?  No.  Tacky?  Yes.  I don't mean to be rude, but I do not go to a restaurant to make a new friend.  I am not mean to servers.  I am polite to them and I am a good tipper (unless they are totally clueless.  Then I explain to the manager that I usually leave 20% or more and this is why I did not at this time).  However, I don't really care what their name is.  I am there to relax, not challenge my memory. I want to enjoy the people I am with, not buddy up with  "Ryan" or "Melanie".

Some say it is good to learn their name so that if you want something you know who to ask for.  Really?  How many times do you actually remember the name?  Aren't you usually busy doing something enjoying the company you are with?  I should not have to ask for my server anyway, if they are doing their job.  If I do need to (perhaps I spilled, etc) I am sure that either someone else can bring some cloths or find the person handling the section I am in.  I doubt there is a secret code regarding who is serving where.

That is just the start.  Let me say this:  I do NOT go out to eat for a performance.  If I wanted a performance, I would go to a play or concert.  I am not there to be jarred out my relaxation by a server sitting down next to me in the booth to appear "cool" and friendly.  I don't want a stranger right in my face. I do not want to be touched (I am a hug and kiss person, but not to complete strangers...and yes I have been touched by servers), and I do not want to hear how smart the server is because they can recite a half dozen fresh specials.

Restaurant owners, please take the time to print out your fresh sheets.  Is that so difficult? That way I can look at them at my leisure IF I WANT TO.  For instance, I do not like fish.  Without fail, I have to hear about three or four fish specials that there is no chance I will be ordering.  Plus, we want to talk, not listen to you perform like a carnival barker.  Customers are sophisticated enough that they are not "tricked" into ordering more just because you have your servers yammer at them.

Yes, a good server checks back to see if everything is satisfactory.  However, it is supposed to be done skillfully, without interrupting the customers conversation.  Could you possibly stand back a little and wait for a break in the conversation?  Could you ask quietly instead of, once again, barking at us a la performance mode?  And, please don't ask "How is that tasting for ya?"  I can't believe how many ask this.  Why?  Are you worried it might not taste good?  What happened to  "Are you pleased with your selection?" or "Is everything done the way you expected it?"

Oh, by the way, it is not endearing for a server to act like middle aged and older women are "girls".  Those flirty, sweet voices you use, thinking you tricking them into thinking you think they are 20?  Guess what?  It is condescending and usually ends up in a smaller tip.  In general, if women are tipping you poorly, it is no longer because they are cheap. We make money now, remember?  We get it. It is because you aren't doing your job. Or because you act slimy or manipulative and think it is attractive.

One more thing. Enough with the magicians and balloon artists, already.  Again, unless I go to a kid themed restaurant, I really don't want to feel like I am at a carnival.  No, I don't want a balloon wiener dog at the bargain "price" (expected tip for interrupting our meal) of $5.00.  Sorry.  I have been wiener dogged out. Unless it is advertised as kid's night, I don't want to be treated like a kid. 

How about a nice place to eat that is reasonable, with good food and attentive (instead of disruptive) service?  I have found a few and we go there again and again.  The other places?  Their wiener dogs will have to wait for someone else to adopt them.  It isn't going to be me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Fanmail Means to a Writer

This indie author is so blissfully happy this morning!  I received another email (actually it was written on my blog and I get the message in my email, too) from a total stranger saying that she loved my books.  Jubilation! Another person for whom Gastien became very real. 

Let me tell you, there is no feeling in the world like the joy an author feels when they hear praise from a reader.  It is wonderful to be praised by friends and family and I don't mean to downplay that.  But from a stranger?  That is heady stuff!  I know this: no matter how successful I may become I will never lose the appreciation I have for readers who take time out of their lives to not only read my work, but to communicate with me directly to let me know how much they enjoyed it.  Never.

In case you don't know it, most of us don't make much money at all...if any.  We hope to become successful, but we know going in that the odds are stacked against us.  There are a whole lot of writers out there.  Still, I figure my odds are better at writing than with painting (which I have in my blood just like Gastien).  To add more angst to it, most of us are neurotic. 
Every day we fret about our books.  While marketing, while writing, while waiting for sales and reviews to come in, we fret.  Is the work good enough?  Are people finding it?  Will they spread the word?  Worst of all, do they hate us?  A day of  no sales and we are convinced that the whole world has decided that we suck.  No one will ever buy our work again.  Stupid, I know.  But honest.

Then sales (or a sale for some of us) comes in.  A fan writes.  A good review pops up.  We are in ecstasy again, knowing that we were born to do this crazy thing called telling a story.  Lots of sales would be nice.  I won't lie, I hope to make a lot of money eventually.  But you know what?  Even if I don't, just hearing from readers around the world that they love my work and consider it some of the best they have read makes it worthwhile to write.

I actually get tears in my eyes whenever I hear from a reader.  I can't say that I ever took the time to write or email an author.  I just plain didn't think of it.  I guess maybe I also thought they were not interested in hearing from me.  I always assumed they were wildly successful if they had a book out. Authors are really just normal people. In reality, writing is a lonely job.  We sit alone most of the time, living in our head. It is wonderful to be "touched" by another human.

Readers, we love to hear from you.  We live to hear that our work matters;  that it entertained you, moved you, made you feel.  Thank you from the depths of my soul for taking time to let me know.  Words can't express how much you mean to me. Today I can continue on book 3 (Tristan Michel: Bloodline of Passion) knowing that there ARE people out there-even in other parts of the world-waiting for me to tell them a story again.  And that, my friends, is what writing is all about.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shut your mouth! (A Pet Peeve)

What are some of your pet peeves?  I have several, but I think my biggest is this: people talking with food in their mouth.  Or chewing without keeping their mouth closed.  Gross.  Yuck.  Unfortunately, it has become an epidemic.

There have been all kinds of articles written on the lack of manners in society now.  It has been a gradual erosion as we become a more relaxed culture.  Will someone please explain to me why "relaxed" has to also mean "uncouth"?  Can't one be relaxed and still be tactful and gracious?  But, I digress. 

I have always been nauseated by the sight of someone talking with food in their mouth, or chewing with their mouth open.  You see their food in various stages of breakdown, saliva bubbling, and morsels spinning around like old rags in a front load washer.  Food stuck on teeth, perhaps some flying out onto the table or even another person.  Once the food gets chewed up enough it looks like vomit.  Vomit whirling around for others to watch, ruining their own meal. 
Perhaps you don't even realize you do it.  I am amazed at the number of people that do this.  I would say that for the last three years it has grown to epidemic proportions.  Am I in the minority in not wanting to watch people break down their food?  Maybe I am wrong.  I thought a restaurant or dinner party was a place to enjoy myself and share pleasantries, not a biology class.
(Speaking of which, spare me the stories about puke-baby or otherwise- and not being able to shit, or who had bad diarrhea, while dining in a public place or at the table, please. It may not bother you to talk about runny bowels, but it does make others upset.  But, again, I digress.)

Why do so many people talk with food in their mouth?  Chew with their mouth open?  I think it is because they take too big of bites, eat too fast and are hogging it down like pigs at a trough, and one other reason.  Maybe they believe that they have such important, enlightening things to say that others can't wait for their utterances to be spoken.  Yes, they have thoughts and ideas so unique and unusual that the rapt listeners won't mind seeing their slimy mush gyrating around while they bless others with their viewpoints.
  I have news for you.  You are not the most important person in the world, nor are you the most important person in the room.  As earth shattering as your thoughts may be, we can all wait for you to chew up your food and swallow.  Hey, even if someone asks you a question while chewing, you can smile and point to your CLOSED mouth and chew.

Or-newsflash-if you must answer, USE YOUR NAPKIN! Yeah, it is meant for more than sitting on the table. It goes in your lap and THEN if you MUST talk with food in your mouth (perhaps a server is waiting for an answer), you (GASP!) pick up the napkin and HOLD IT IN FRONT OF YOUR MOUTH while answering!  That way the rest of us don't have to see your half chewed pizza!  Isn't the napkin an amazing invention?

I also think people who eat alone a lot don't use their good manners and then it simply becomes habit.  Maybe it is not such a bad idea to practice eating with good manners even when alone.  That way people might actually want to dine with you more than once.

It is not just unruly teenagers, elderly, or uneducated people that do this.  I see many businessmen, professionals, teachers, parents....all chewing away (talking or not) with their mouth wide open.  Advertising their half broken down meal for all the world to see.  You look awful.  It may seem like I am too uptight, but it really is you that it reflects on.  You look gross and unkempt.  Sorry.  But you do.

So, next time you are at the table, do us all a favor.  Shut your mouth.  Please! When you are not chewing (if you can pause to take a breath before hogging down the next forkful) feel free to converse.  Just don't make us watch the horror movie in your mouth.  Thank you.

Monday, February 6, 2012

OOh-la-la! (Becoming French when you eat will make you slender)

I need to lose weight.  I know that, and I know how to do it.  So why don't I?  If I had the answer to that question I would be a billionaire.  Millions of Americans struggle with extra weight.  I have lost weight several times.  I never keep it off.

To begin with I was naturally thin.  Until I was in my 40's I was never overweight.  The problem was, I still thought I was too fat.  I was 5' 8" and wore a size 11.  That is slender. However, the modeling world said the opposite.  We were barraged through the media with underweight examples of what was beautiful from the last 60's on.  So, I began dieting.

I truly think that is what messed up my metabolism.  And my mental health.  I would go through periods of dieting only to binge on everything I had not allowed myself to enjoy.  The binge periods lasted longer and longer.  Finally, by the time I reached middle age I was overweight.  I still could lose weight.  I still could not keep it off.

It may surprise you that, when I say I know how to lose weight and keep it off, I am no longer talking about  a diet.  No food plan where you have to check off boxes.  No boxed bullsh** meals.  No banned foods.  Nope.  I am convinced that the way one gets back to a healthy weight is by eating what they want, but only when they are truly hungry.  Equally important? Stopping when one is full.
The French have always done it.  They eat lots of calorie laden foods.  (Name one French dish that is not high in fat.) Just not in quantity.  They eat small portions because that is what the human body really desires.  Somehow, we Americans have gotten all messed up with the portions we think are needed.  Truly, less IS more. More healthy, more budget friendly, more delicious.

Why can't I remember to only eat when hungry and stop when I am full?  I guess because of decades of doing the opposite.  Even when I was thin I overate.  Simply because I could.  I had a crazy metabolism that allowed me to eat everything and anything.  Because of that I developed bad habits.

I am going to (once again) try to commit to eating only when hungry and stopping as soon as I am full.  That does not mean some garbage about chewing each bite a certain number of times, or driving myself crazy about putting down my fork between every bite.  What it DOES mean is that I will pace myself.  I will remember manners. That means I won't shovel food into my food, refill my fork while still chewing, or take portions that would fill the back of a dump truck to capacity.  I will really notice and enjoy the flavor of each bite.  And I will make an attempt to converse (after chewing and swallowing food please...a pet peeve of mine is people who talk with food in their mouth) while eating.  If I am involved with others during a meal I will give myself time to realize that I am full.

Will I succeed?  Eventually.  Hopefully, it will be this time.  I have normal blood pressure, normal blood sugar, and a stress test showed a normal heart.  Now it is up to me to keep things that way before it is too late. Food is not the enemy, lack of awareness is.  Food is wonderful and sensuous.  It should be treated with respect, not ravaged.

Wish me luck.  It is difficult to learn new behavior when old behavior has been repeated so many years.  I really want to be able to move better and have less pain, here we go.  Is this time the charm?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Why What We Love Becomes What We Hate

Too often the characteristics of your spouse or significant other that make you fall in love with them end up being the same traits that irritate the hell out of you once the newness of the relationship wears off. Unfortunately, most of us may not realize that. If we do, we may not understand why that trait is now so irritating.

OK, so saying we now "hate" it is extreme. But those characteristics can drive us wonky. Why? I am no expert (well, I am kind of. I have been married for decades), but I read something several years back that made sense of it for me. I wish I could remember where I read it or who wrote it because I would like to give them credit. It has helped me understand and hold my tongue on many occasions during our marriage.

When we fall in love, we tend to look for someone who has strengths we don't necessarily have. Usually unconsciously. Hence, the cliche "opposites attract" (this is far different from having opposite morals or interests, which can hurt a relationship). That is because it will balance us, make the unit a whole. If we are afraid to voice our opinion, we find  someone who can gifted. If we beat ourselves up with guilt over never getting enough done, we admire that fact that he/she is relaxed and laid back. If we have trouble asking others to help us, we find him/her great at delegating. If we are wall flowers, he or she is the toast of the party.

We fall in love; time goes on. Now that person is a human instead of a god. All of a sudden, "gifted" becomes "opinionated". "Laid back" becomes "lazy". Forget "great at delegating"! They are just plain "bossy". "Toast of the party"? They are a "show off"!  Those very qualities we love turn into warts we would like to burn off.
Why? That article explained that it is because those qualities are so foreign to our sense of self. Those traits are not naturally part of us and so they feel "wrong". Plus, we are a bit jealous. Our partner are things we are can't be; at least not naturally. It eats at us that they can be things easily that we either can't be or have to work at. Now again, this is not conscious. Most of us don't think we are that small minded or that jealous. It is human nature to feel threatened or irritated by traits that are not innately us, though.

If we keep that in mind, all of a sudden those traits are not so irritating. After all, those things are the very reasons we fell in love in the first place.  Keeping that in mind gives the person we love permission to be the person they are. Remember, they fell in love with your for your characteristics.  Those characteristics are as foreign to them as theirs are to you. You drive them crazy for the same reasons. Isn't part of love acceptance and admiration of what the other truly is?
As long as you are both sharing responsibilities, you are fine. Chill out and let you partner be the person they were meant to be. Be the person you were meant to be.  You will both be a lot happier for it.  You will also find that you compliment each other very well.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Finding Happiness

As an indie author it is easy to get so caught up in all of the things I need to do to market my book that it is hard to find time to write.  There is blogging, tweeting, facebook, emails, review requests, interviews...the list goes on and on.

I am not just an indie author though.  I am a wife, a friend to many, a homeowner, a grandma (although I am childless by choice), a companion of two parrots, and have many hobbies.  Like everyone else these days, I struggle to find time for everything.  Worse yet, while doing one thing I feel this nagging guilt that I really should be doing another. And, always, I am trying to find happiness.

As an author I keep thinking that once my books start selling big time I will be happy.  Once I have the series done I will be happy.  Once I can stop worrying about income I will be happy.

As a human I sometimes think that if we lived somewhere warmer I would be happy, or if we could take nice vacations I would be happy.  Perhaps if we could replace our worn out carpet and redo the hardwoods underneath I would be happy.  If Dave and I could find more time to just be with other I would be happy.  When (and if) we ever retire I will be happy.

In the meantime, time has taken away the vast majority of my life.  Don't get me wrong.  I am not "unhappy".  I am generally quite a happy person, but I think all of us fall into that trap of thinking things would be "happier" if only.
If only I would lose weight, have money, not hurt, have more time...the list goes on and on.

The problem is, we look for things other than ourselves to make us happy.  Even if we try to find it in ourselves, it is by "correcting" or "improving" the body and mind we have been given.  Self improvement can be a great thing; self acceptance is even greater.

You want happiness?  Do I?  Then, truly, we need to stop "wanting" and start simply "being".  There is so much joy in just being able to breathe, to blink.  To be able to hear a child laugh, a bird sing.  To see a sunrise instead of rushing around opening blinds to that you can get to the computer and begin to "do".  There is not just happiness, but true joy all around us and within us.
We just have to be quiet enough to notice it.
My books may eventually sell great or sit and collect "dust" online.  I may always be overweight now, after years of being thin.  I am going to always hurt some.  And, hopefully, get old.  I am not guaranteed that.  Nobody is.
What I am guaranteed is the beauty-right now-of seeing the color I painted my walls (it IS a happy color!), of feeling love in my heart for my friends and family, of knowing that my heart beats and my mind works and I can stop and read poetry any time I want to.

The miracle of being on this planet.  What a sheer, simple miracle. Being here now and knowing it. That is happiness.  If we clear our mind and simply look, happiness is there within us.  It always was and always will be.  We just need to allow it to be noticed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Want a Cheap Read With Great Ratings?

As an indie author I try to read as many books by other indie authors (click for a good author and book site)that I can.  My goal this year is to always pick an indie book (click for another good indie site)  whenever I buy a new book.  I don't necessarily want to buy the cheapest.  A lot of the .99 cents books are rife with formatting, spelling and grammar errors. 

And the free ones!  Oh, my.  Too many times I have downloaded "free" just to delete them.  That does not mean free or "cheap" has to be bad.  Here are a couple of hints for finding good books by indies:

1. Don't just download free books or .99.  I mean, come on.  Is $2.99 or even $4.99 a lot for a book nowadays?  Seriously!  Authors need to eat too. 

2. If you do download free or .99 look to see what rating the book has and how many reviews.  I am not talking about reviews from Joe Blow.  I am talking about reviews from reviewers or book bloggers.  Those are more honest.  Some people are suspicious of a book with all high reviews, but if most of them are from reviewers or bloggers it is probably just a really good book!

3. Again, when considering free or .99 does the author have more than one book out?  If so, they may be using this book as a loss leader to build a following.  That is great.  Check out the ratings and go for it!

4. Also when considering free or .99 look to see if it is part of a series. If so, it is probably being used as a loss leader to promote the series.  Again, a good thing!  You can see if you want to read the whole series for little of no money.  Check the ratings.

You may ask "Why bother to worry if it is free or under a buck?"  Well, because people who download books rife with errors are not authors.  They don't want to do the work to be an author.  If people don't download their books they either learn to improve or go away.  Either is fine.  We don't need the e-book market flooded with books full of errors.

I am not talking about a couple of mistakes in a full novel.  That happens all the time in books that have been put out by major publishers too.  I am talking about the flood of books with a dozen errors in a couple hundred pages.  Books that don't know how and when to use a comma.  Things like that.

You can find good books for free or under a buck if you just research the book on the site you are going to download it from a little bit.  But, please, don't just buy .99 and download free.  The best books do, or will eventually (after the sale goes off) cost more...even if only a dollar or two.  If you love reading, support the art of writing!

Here is a great site for finding quality books for under a buck to get you started: In order to even get on this site you need at least 4 (or was it 5?) reviews from verified purchases on Amazon and at least a 4 star rating average from those reviews.   Many of those featured put a book on sale to get on that site.  It is a great way to increase readership for us indies and Michael should be commended for it.  Stop by and check out the site.  You will find a lot of fabulous reading on there!

Don't forget: if you like the book you got for free or under a buck, please continue to support that author.  Books by indies are a bargain even at $2.99, $3.99 or $4.99 and higher.  Don't expect a quality author to offer every book for free or .99.  When you find an author you love, give them some love back.  Chances are you don't work for free or a buck, either!

I thank you and other indies will thank you, too.  Now, go out and grab a great book.  There is a world of escape waiting for you!