Monday, April 30, 2012

Ghettoizing a Good Neighborhood (Congratulations St. Paul MN)

This indie author is frustrated with the city she lives in.  St Paul, MN is my home, and I have to hand it to them.  I doubt no other city knows how to scream to residents "Don't spend you money here!  Go to the suburbs to shop, please!!!" quite as well. The city has managed to ruin shopping in just about every neighborhood within.

One exception would be Grand Av.  That avenue is full of trendy, funky shops where one can find clothing, shoes, jewelry, home furnishings, art to name a few things.  Oh, don't get me wrong.  The city sure tried to ruin Grand.  Several years ago they started letting in chain stores.  Yeah, that's smart.  Let's put in the same stores that are in all of the suburbs in an area with only street parking and one parking lot.  Yes indeed.  People will flock to the area to shop in the exact same stores they can find at a mall, just for the excitement of driving around looking for a spot to park for the first hour and a half.  That works.  Thankfully, the residents of the neighborhood protested this destruction of all things funky and passed a moratorium on allowing any more chains.  Whew.
We have lived in our neighborhood for about twenty years. It is a fine neighborhood...but things are changing.  There were mostly middle class families here...and there still are.  So far. There was, and is, also upper middle class.  Some lower middle class too.  In short, a great mix of people who work hard to provide for their families and to take care of their property. We had several restaurants and, on the other side of the freeway, a strip mall with a nice shoe store, 3 clothing stores, a Hallmark, several gift shops, and other things. That side of the freeway is not as upwardly mobile, but they were still hard workers. On our side of the freeway were the restaurants and Byerly's (a lovely grocery store), furniture, car get the drift. 

The genius's of city planning weren't having it.  Why have a thriving neighborhood with good retail when they could slowly erode it and then, in a few decades, throw millions at it and brag to the residents of the city that they had "come to the rescue" of a neighborhood in decline and "fixed" it!

How about if you didn't let it decline in the first place?  First it was the strip mall.  Someone new bought it.  Someone who buys up strip malls and turns them into ghetto shopping.  A discount card shop.  Hallmark left and then so did the crappy discount place. The Thrift Store and a used clothing store.  T. J. Max (yeah, I know one in a million people find cute things there.  Once a century).  Bye-bye to upscale Sonnies, Penney's, and Casual Corner. Famous Footware.  See ya, shoe store. Dollar Store. A health club that is really a joke.  A chain grocery store with half the products it's other locations have.  I can feel Byerly's pain. 
Our side of the freeway was next. Blood plasma donation center. Family Dollar. Be still my heart-a pawn shop is on the way!!!! Oh goodie.  Just to make sure Byerly's gets the message, an Aldi's.  Nothing better than cheap cheese curls that taste like puke.  But, hey, half the price of major brands. Restaurants closed.  Fast food is now king.

The people moving in are changing now, too.  Fighting in the yards, with people yelling at each other.  More piles of cars all living on one rental.  Because, yes, houses are being turned into rentals.  Our little street is still good.  A lot of the neighborhood homes still are good and the streets nice. But there is grumbling. I see the writing on the wall. They are set on ruining our little paradise so that they can rebuild in twenty years and brag about how they saved it. Bastards.

Oh, and downtown St. Paul?  NOTHING RETAIL!  There used to be lots of stores.  Now there is a Macy's more like a Sears.  When is the last time you have shopped for clothes at a Sears?  Point made.  Oh, and a men's haberdashery for those who pay $500.00 for a shirt.  Other than that, we don't want your money.  Go to the suburbs.

Oh, St. Paul. You are the state capitol!  There should be pride here.  Instead you are hell bent on making the city an embarrassment to live in.  Congratulations, you are winning.  We are so sad about this decline, but powerless to do anything about it.  Cries fall on deaf ears.  St. Paul, you should be ashamed.  Hang you head and cry.  I sure am.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Get Ready: The Real Housewives of Ramsey County

Before I begin writing or proofing for the day, this indie author rides her exercise bike for 30 minutes every weekday morning. While doing so, I watch junk tv.  Usually the station is Bravo.  We now have the "real" housewives (although many of them work or own businesses) of Orange County, New Jersey, Atlanta, the same type of show about Texas, and probably some others. 

Are these women serious?  OMG I beg you...wear some real shoes for a change.  You really wear four inch heels to take out your dog? Of course, the women all dress in designer outfits even when having coffee together.  And always, the drama! I can't help but wonder how people would react to - you guessed it - The Real Housewives of Ramsey County (St. Paul, MN).  Let's introduce them:

First, we have Stacy.  She is the proud mother of three children and stays at home, while her husband slaves away at 3M.  Does he have a glamorous job like the husbands on the other shows?  Nope.  He works in a lab, making sure the scotch tape actually continues to stick on stuff.  They live in a four bedroom stucco home in the Battle Creek neighborhood.  For excitement they bowl on a couples league.  I do have to say, those matching bowling shirts set the tone for haute couture Minnesota style.

Second up, Chris. She is a newlywed and the outdoorsy type. Chris and her husband David really enjoy camping in the boundary waters or at various state parks. Yeah, sure, you betcha there are mosquitos...but waking up at dawn to the sound of a black bear scratching the paint off your car because you left a candy wrapper in the front seat makes it all worth it.  Her shoe collection is simply amazing.  You will look a long time to find another woman with so many pair of tennis shoes and hiking boots.  Fashion? How about a walking stick with a cougar head carved on it?  Nothing says "woodsy" like a smiling cougar head.

Then there is Barb. Barb and Danny have been married for five years and have been trying to have children with no success. Danny runs a bait shop over on White Bear Lake and Barb loves ceramics. She has ceramic elves posing throughout her yard. Along with a Ferris wheel that holds several plants, a toilet seat with vines growing out of it, and twenty-four (count 'em, twenty-four) bird feeding stations.  They may not be successful having children, but no one can say they are not the nurturing type. Who needs kids when you have Dopey crouching right next to your garden swing! He doesn't even need his diapers changed.
Don't forget Brenda! She is recently separated from Bobby, who had an affair with Stacy.  Stacie's husband, Ryan, forgave her; but Brenda was not so kind.  Suffice it to say that claws come out whenever Brenda and Stacy are at the same potluck dinner. Brenda might be fifty pounds overweight, but that woman can make goulash.  Along with dozens of other hot dishes. Her signiture dish?  Green bean casserole (with a side of Jello). She always thought the way to a man's heart was through his stomach. Evidently not so for Bobby.  He was more interested in other body parts.
Roxanne fills out the dynamic five some. She and her husband Jake are expecting their first child. They can't wait to take their baby on bike rides along the many biking trails in the county.  Of course, during the forty-five minutes that it is warm enough to swim in Minnesota, they will take time out for that. They have it made.  They live in one of the mansions on Summit Av. in Ramsey Countyand they don't mind hosting euchre parties to show it off! Roxanne also enjoys hosting Creative Memories classes.  Yes, she is the proud owner of that truly artistic business...the one where you slam down photo after photo and spend hundreds of dollars on frilly edgings and borders, flowers and hearts to post next to aforementioned memories.  Then, when you think the book can't possibly hold more, you buy colored pens and write tomes of every second you spent on every vacation, birthday, and holiday.  Oh my, those will be cherished heirlooms for sure.

Something tells me this show won't make it. Why? Well, perhaps because it hits too close to home, regardless of where one lives. People don't wear four inch heels walking the dog, but they like to imagine a life so easy that they could.  No, we all pretty much wear real shoes, have real hobbies that are cheesy, enjoy comforting but tacky things, and-let's face it-each of us has a little redneck in them.  You doubt it?  Take a look at that Elvis painting on velvet you've got goin' on in the basement family room. If you can tell me with a straight face that is not redneck, I will award you with some four inch, dog walkin' heels.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thanks for the Kick in the Ass

This indie author has lost some faith in the inherent good that she had always thought was inside all of us.  I try to see the good in people, I really do. And, I try to practice that in my own life.  If I see someone drop their billfold or leave part of their groceries sitting on the check out, I call out to them, and sometimes I will even chase them down. Kind of a karma thing, ya know?

Except, now I don't know.  Not any longer. Sometimes it just feels like no matter how you try to treat others, the same isn't granted to you.  Case in point: Saturday errands.  Dave and I had gone to Target and bought a bunch of stuff we needed.  Part of that included $37.00 in paper products.  Those paper towels and the toilet paper were too bulky to put in the cart, so we put them down below.
Yes, we remembered to pay for them.  As we were walking out, I also reminded Dave not to forget the paper products underneath the cart as he loaded the trunk.  I got in and Dave unloaded everything.  A sigh of relief.  One errand completed. We went on our merry way, getting meat, groceries, and some other products.

Finally it was time to go home.  A whole lot poorer, but glad to be restocked, we entered our garage.  Dave opened the trunk and I came around back.  Seeing the odd expression on his face, I knew. You guessed it.  He had not unloaded the paper products underneath the cart at Target.  We were both sick. What were the chances of someone turning in those products?

Getting back in the car, I immediately assured Dave that those products would be waiting for us.  People are good inside, I said. Those products were bought by us and were rightfully ours.  The world does not operate on negativity.   All is right with the world. We will find them waiting at customer service.

Except they weren't. When we asked, they called the security guard.  He said no one had turned them in and that once products go out the door they are not responsible for them.  No "do over" without cost.  We had to repurchase the items.  You may say it is not a big deal.  I agree that compared to, say, cancer or war, it isn't.  But we are struggling while I try to make it as writer.  Really struggling.  Like, first year of marriage struggling.  That $37.00 was a damn big deal.

We bought new paper products. I vented on Facebook, saying that from now on I would take anything I could and not worry about other people if they left things sitting, etc.  Not true.  Because, you see, even if some people are not inherently good, I am. I will continue to give a damn about doing the right thing.

My belief in humanity was damaged that day.  I look at strangers now and see them as a lot more selfish; a lot less caring. I try still try to do the right thing.  Each time I come to this planet I am supposed to progress.  Part of that progression is learning to treat others fairly. 

Still, you know what? I can't help but hope that whoever stole that toilet paper gets a UTI from it.  That is not serious, but can burn like hell. You might see that as petty. Right now I see it as treating others fairly.  Karma, you know.  Simply karma.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Forced to Look at Hot Men. Damn!

As an indie author I am responsible for finding someone to design my book covers. Before that happens, I need to be able to tell them what I am looking for. I usually peruse the royalty free images of Dreamstime to find my subjects. Once I have some in mind, Robin does her magic.  She can turn my confusing ideas into "Oh, my God!"

Since I am writing a series that is a family saga, along with being historical fiction, I want the main characters to have a certain look.  The first two books were about Gastien. The third book is about his son, Tristan Michel.  Of course, they are stunningly handsome. Yeah, I know, a few readers are tired of all main characters being stunning. But, it's my party and I pick the favors.  These favors are going to be yummy. Try to get over the aversion to sexy looking men.  You can do it if you try.

This is the third time that I have spent hours (okay, days...) looking at photos of sexy men. They had to have that certain look that only I understood.  Tristan had to have some of his father's features, yet be more rogue looking.  He is a powerful man, and you don't usually become powerful playing nice.

Imagine my dilemma.  The first two books I had to look for a man who was both handsome and heartbreakingly beautiful. Sigh.  What a task. "You will do.  You will not.  Sorry, eyes too small.  Yes, maybe.  Ohhh...yummm."

I know.  Life is tough. For this third book, more of the same.  "Too sweet.  Too silly.  Ohhhh, yeah...wait...too old.  Yes, possibly."  I wanted just faces, but reason not to look at other parts...

I was extremely excited when Robin and I found my Gastien.  I was no less excited when I found my Tristan.  Hours of looking, hours of hot, sexy lookin' men.  Damn. It's a bitch, but somebodies gotta do it.  I managed to struggle through it.

(By the way, Robin Ludwig does my covers and she is AWESOME.  Here is her site: )  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Readers, Reviewers, and Thick Skin

As an indie author, you must let reviews slide off your back.  We spend a lot of time trying to get reviewers and bloggers to review our work.  When they leave less than glowing results, we need thick skin. You want reviews. You also want to let the reviewers do their job without fear of retribution.  DO NOT argue with a reviewer.  Move on. Seriously. I thank a reviewer and move on.  Nothing but that.

Reviewers are not the only ones that will leave reviews.  Some readers will too.  Even if you have written the best book ever, don't expect to get all 4 and 5 star reviews. Each pair of eyes sees things differently.  Each brain processes a little differently.  Not every person will love your book.  In fact, some will probably hate it.  The only way to avoid this is to write a book so middle of the road that nobody cares enough to love it or to hate it...and quite likely they won't finish reading it.

As the months go by, you will hear from one person that they loved the conflict and all of the struggle, only to hear from another person later that they were disappointed that there was a lack of conflict.  One person will say the sex was hot and steamy, the next will say it read like a porno.  Or, worse yet, the sex put them to sleep. See what I mean? Same book, different opinions.
The best thing you can do is not read your reviews.  I have to admit that I have not reached that level.  I still read them. And, I will admit, a bad review stabs me right in the gut.  I have to sit and rationalize about all of the great reviews I have gotten.  So far, there are way more of those than the bad.  And, for some reason, the few bad ones I have gotten have kept them to their blogs.  Had they put them up on Amazon and B&N it still does not matter in the scheme of things.  ALL best sellers have one and two star reviews. Again, different opinions. I am sure more are coming, but so are 5 star reviews.

Some authors don't like my work nearly as well as readers who don't write books. They point out the different ways that I don't play the game right in my writing. Some of it I agree with and some I don't.  Some I will work to improve on and some I will blow off. Why would I blow it off?  Because I think some of it comes down to style.  My style does not have to be like theirs. That is why I am indie. If we all write the same way, what is the point? Still, if I hear repeatedly about things that are an issue I will know that needs to be considered. 

Even things that are a "no-no" in writing (like head hopping, for example) have some that think it heresy to do and others that say they don't care.  Some famous/best selling authors do it, some don't.  I do, but I am not famous.  Yet. :)

Yup.  I head hop. I am trying to learn how to do it in a less jarring way, but honestly, I want readers who are sophisticated enough to be able to read two or more points of view and thought processes at the same time. Yes, I know it is not usually done. That doesn't mean it can't be.  (And, actually, it is done way more than some might think.) I believe  people have progressed enough to be able to process that and still identify with a main character. Nowadays we multi-task all of the time, so it should not be a stretch. My gosh, if Picasso and a myriad of other forward thinking artists listened to the "no-no" we would still be hanging huge religious paintings on our walls.

Will I lose some readers by this?  Sure.  I will also lose some because of graphic sex. Or lack of sex. Or too macho of a male lead.  Or too wimpy.  You yourself will also will lose some readers no matter what.  However, if you give your very best...honestly write from your gut and have a way with will also keep some readers for life. They will feel your passion and believe in you. If you move them, it will be a lot of readers that you keep. And, if you have to choose between keeping readers who don't write books or authors happy, choose the former.  There are a hell of a lot more of those. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jubilation! Cancer Free For Two Years

I began my journey as an indie writer a little over a year ago.  I had lost my job, but I also was recovering from cancer.  After the radiation I started writing The Gastien Series, only I didn't know it would become a five book series at that time. I had always wanted to write a novel and cancer taught me that if I wanted something I had better go for it because tomorrow is never guaranteed. I am now finalizing book three.
Today I got the results back from my mammogram.  I am still cancer free!  Two years have gone by so quickly that at times I still think it is time for me to jump in the car and go to radiation treatment. Then I remember, and thank God I don't have to.

I could blog for hours and not find the words to tell you how joyous I am that there is still no cancer.  Every year when it is time for my mammogram (it was more frequent than that up to this point) I become very stressed and scared.  I hope that fades over time.  And, when I am stressed, I EAT! I was doing quite well at not eating when I was full, but that went out the window a couple of weeks before my appointment again. 

Many things are still how I would not like them.  We are not financially strong. I am hoping to eventually make a living from my books and my art, but also know I may be going back to work for awhile.  We also doubt that retirement will ever happen.

I still hurt like hell in my muscles.  Separate issue from cancer. After years of that I doubt it will suddenly disappear. Looking for a job that fits my needs (note that I did not say wants) is difficult. I hurt. A lot. I also need time to write and paint.

I am still fat.  Until I hit my 40's I never thought I would be even a little overwieght.  Life is just full of surprises.
Our home needs a million updates to it and they will have to wait.  It is not in disrepair.  It is out of date.  Oh, well.  So am I.

I still feel confused when one book reviewer sympathizes with Gastien, saying he can't catch a break and another says there was no conflict in the book, that things were too easy for him. I have learned (almost) not to let it bother me, but it is still puzzling.  How do two people see things so differently?

I get frustrated with lack of time, lack of discipline, and lack of money.  But you know what?  None of it matters today, not even a little bit. Nope. I could care less.  Because, today, I found out that I am still cancer free.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Would you eat an automobile air filter?

As an indie author of historical fiction, I do research on all kinds of strange things.  One thing I had researched recently were popular French dishes.  Some of these dishes featured various animal livers.  That reminded me of the fact that not so long ago, doctors avidly recommended eating beef liver.  Even Weight Watchers used to make liver mandatory once a week.

Now it is not recommended by either health professions or weight loss companies because it is very high in cholestral. Really?  That is the reason they have all decided that it is not wise to eat liver?  Hmmmm. How about the fact that it is just plain filthy?  Did that never occur to you?
To those who eat any kind of liver, what happened in your childhood to make you decide that you should punish yourself on a regular basis? Stop and think about this for a minute.  The liver is the filter for the body. The place that filters out all of the chemicals, disease and least as much as it can.

High cholestral or not, do you really think it is in your best interest to ingest an organ full of all of the things it was trying to keep away from an animal?  Isn't this sort of the same as eating an automobile's air filter? On second thought, the air filter might be more healthy.  Truly.

Besides, there is nothing in the world that tastes worse than liver.  That horrible taste is natures way of saying "Attention: Hey, dumbass, you aren't supposed to eat this organ!  It has filtered out lots of things that could have made the animal sick...and YOU are an animal!  At least, biologically.  Mentally, that may be a stretch. REPEAT: DO NOT CONSUME!"

Do we heed the taste warning?  Do we notice the slick goo that coats it and think, "Gee, maybe this is not such a good idea?" Well, some of us do.  Some still proceed and chomp away on a helping of chemicals, disease and God knows what that was stored in that organ, keeping the animal from getting sick. All righty then.

And, please, don't advise me that the flavor can be "covered up" with onions. First of all, nothing could cover up the taste short of cutting off ones tongue. Secondly, if the taste needs covering up, perhaps it is not such a great thing to ingest in the first place.  (Just like duck or venison.  Hey, if you have to hide the taste with grape juice, 7-up, or other things in the roasting pan then pick another meat.) The point is trying to make a good tasting meal, not playing hide or seek.  Now you taste it, now you don't.  You wish.

No, I don't eat mold or fungi and I don't eat disease filters.  Although I do hear that furnace filters can be quite tasty, if you add enough 7-up.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When did you stop being cool?

Maybe it is because as an indie author I have been writing about characters that were considered cutting edge during their time, but lately I have been thinking about cool people. I first realized that I was no longer cool back in my early 30's. While I applied make-up the thought came to me, "When did I last think about if I looked cool?" I couldn't remember.

The second thought was "The cool thing is, I don't care!" What a freeing experience.  I was finally mature enough to realize that every time I stepped outside, the whole world was not waiting to judge if I epitomized cool. How refreshing! I had always made sure I was dressed "arty" or "funky" in my 20's. Now I found myself dressing how I damn well pleased.  It was funky one day and dressy the next.  Imagine the freedom!

Later that year I was getting ready to attend a wedding.  The thought occurred to me that this day was for the bride to shine, not me.  (Only women will get this.) Previously, every time I attended an event, hours were spent selecting the best dress. It had to be one that took people's breath away when they saw me.  Hair and make-up had to be perfect. I had to be a fashion statement. Could not let the awaiting public down! Remember how much time you used to take to get ready for a wedding? The wedding dance was a Big Deal.  You had to have the sexiest dress, etc. Ummm...note to each of you...a wedding is NOT about anyone but the bride and groom.  Got it?

Then I hit my fifties and realized that not only were people not waiting in excited anticipation about my outfit, but I had also become invisible. Yep. People in their 50's and later are simply "filler" for events. The young people celebrating, and their friends, want the limelight.  Trust me, your niece or nephew want you to blend in, sitting at the nether tables. "Oh God," they think, "please don't let Aunt Cathy make an ass out of herself again on the dance floor."  No young person expects an older person to be the center of attention. You are simply a bit player in their scene. Hey, still make an ass out of yourself if you want to. Just realize that you might be stealing a scene that maybe should no longer by yours!  Can you say "age gracefully, but still have fun?" I sure hope so. Hey, still have fun and still be you.  Just don't insist on being the center of attention every minute of every day.

No one notices an older women much on the street, either.  Unless she is dressed strangely.  Which can be cool.  I can embrace eccentric.  In fact, I sometimes do.  Okay, I lots of times do.  Just because it works people up. And if a teenager pokes a friend in the gut and points, laughing?  I just surprised them by smiling and giving them a suggestion about what to do, starting with "Go" and ending with "yourself".  That really shocks them.  How can someone so old know that word?

But lately I have moved past "no longer cool" to out and out "dork".  I don't care, either.  I am busy.  I have books to write and format, paintings to create, people to love. If I want to go out in my yard with old lounger pants (pajama) that end above the ankle and no make-up, I do.  If the neighbors don't like it, they can kiss my...well, let's just say I have grown a large target for them.
I go for walks in whatever old crappy pants I can find. Sometimes I go to stores without make-up on. Writing and painting cause me to live inside my head a lot. I find the outfit does not matter.  If my outfit does matter to others, then they really do need to get a life. There is so much to accomplish before dying, so many things to try! What I am wearing shouldn't be a big deal to others.  If it is they are wasting some of their precious time here on my jogging pants with paint on them instead of enjoying their children or their jog.

Yup.  I look like a dork at times now. A funky dork sometimes, but usually just a dork. If you really look when I walk by, you will see that I truly don't care.  (Yes, I have good hygeine. I am talking about fashion.) I am too busy just enjoying the moment; a moment no longer highlighted by my shoes or pants. One of the wonderful things about becoming older is that I realize I am more than what I wear. The lounger pants don't matter. Experience and enlightenment do. Because of that, I am now truly cool.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What Turns You On? (Places You Love and Hate)

Both indie and traditional authors get to "travel" a lot, at least in their minds. Today let's talk about places that turn us on.  Not just countries, cities, etc have to be used.  You can tell me types of businesses that you dislike going to also.

I hate going to Iowa.  Des Moines is okay, So is the eastern side of Iowa along the river.  But, damn, the whole rest of the state is one very long and very repetitious cornfield.  Some of those towns should really be called an old ruin.  One building, two houses.  Kill me now.

Have never been to North Dakota but I am thinking it would be even duller. Oops.  I have been to Fargo, several times as a teenager.  That was okay. Something tells me the rest of the state is one flat wasteland.  Cold, too.

I hate Minnesota in the winter (this year was the exception). To me, there should be a law in nature that says you can't dip below 50.  But then, in my wildest dreams the low would never go below 80.

I also hate going to hardware stores and lumber stores.  ZZZZZZZZZZ. And, oh God, don't get me started about fabric stores.  Excuse me, but there is a reason stores sell clothing...

I am also not a big fan of crap, errrr, craft stores.  There is no need to paint on velvet or do string art.  Stenciling every room in your home with cupids or smileys is just not cool. Same with fluff and stuff stores. I can do one or two little shops that sell candles and knick-knacks if forced to, and then I am done. I just don't get it. Buy some art instead of expensive junk. I know I am not making crafters happy here.  But how many driftwood cribbage boards does the world need?  And is there a rule that all retired men must do woodcrafting?  Please, I have seen enough of your cute little benches for toddlers.

I also hate antique stores.  Every damn one of 'em stinks.  The smell immediately plugs up my nose.  Why does anyone want a house full of stuff that smells like mildew?  Actually, I do like some antiques, I just don't like retail stores stuffed to the gills with every old piece of crap that four dozen  "antiquers" found in their attics and are hoping some sucker will pay $100 for. Um, excuse me, that chipped teacup is NOT worth $75.  I don't care if Napoleon drank out if.  It is still yellowed and it is still chipped. If Napoleon really drank out of it he should be ashamed.

What places turn me on?  Art galleries, art studios.  Book stores that are independently owned (soon to be a thing of the past). Small businesses that dare to be different. The woods.  The woods are where I find God. I love cities and I love the country (as long as it has more than cornfields). Oddly, I would be equally happy living in Manhattan or on a farm.  I would need to get to the woods if in Manhattan and get to the city if on a farm once in awhile, but I dig both.

I would really love to see France, especially Paris. I believe I lived there in a past life and I would like to revisit that home.   I also would have liked to see Galapagos Islands, the salt licks deep in the Amazon jungles of Peru and Dominica (not Dominican Republic).  All but France won't happen anymore because I am not limber enough to make the trek without severely injuring myself.  Not a fun thing to do in remote places.

I love our home.  It is not an executive home by a long shot.  Nor is it a hovel. It needs things done to it and all of them are on hold while I try to make a go of it as a writer.  Still, it is home.  We are proud of it and thankful to have it. We have a pool and a fireplace, four bedrooms and a good sized yard. A nice deck. It is a comfortable home.

I also love going to the zoo.  Our zoos give the animals plenty of room and it never fails to make me feel like a kid again whenever we go to either zoo.  If I am overstressed, that is the place to head, along with the woods.

How about you?  What places do you dream of, love being at, or balk at going to?  What places turn you on?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What turns you on? (And this time, I mean sex)

As an indie author who writes dramatic stories about life and relationships, I many times need to write sex scenes. So, this "What turns you on" blog is about sex and romance.  You don't have to offer every intimate detail, but what turns you on?

I am curious.  Do most females really go for the syrupy romance?  I know I sure don't.  Yes, candlelight and roses are wonderful.  Kissing in a whirlpool in front of a fireplace is cozy.  Holding hands and watching ocean waves is delightful.  But none of that turns me on.

Don't get me wrong, it is not that I am not a romantic.  I just find romance not sexy. I love romance because it makes me feel appreciated and loved.  It is also an opportunity to show my husband how much he means to me in poetic ways.  It just won't get him a woman that is charged up for more heated things. Not one bit. Romance is romance.  And sex, glorious sex, is supposed to be sex.

Some friends of mine talk about certain famous guys and how they fantasize about laying on the sand at the beach, arms entwined and kissing.  Those visions are their ultimate turn-ons.  Not me.  If that is the best the man can do to show me how hot he is for me he will end up with me asleep and him alone with his hand.  Yawn.

I must have been a man during my last life.  Maybe most of them.  I don't look masculine.  I don't act manly.  But, damn. Cut the hearts and flowers and give me some raw sex! Talk dirty to me (not crude, show some intelligence and creativity.  Okay, sometimes crude is good, too), show me how out of control I make you, don't be afraid to go at it with gusto.  I am not a piece of crystal.  I am a woman and I want you to be a man. THAT will turn me on. Please note: I am NOT talking about taking a woman that does not want to be taken.  That is rape, and that is NOT a turn-on. 

Whenever I have daydreamed about a man, let me tell ya...we are NOT kissing.  We may be on the beach, but we are not sufficiently dressed.  There is a element of danger, of being caught.  We are dirty, we are needy and we could care less about being nice.  Or, we may be in a four poster bed with satin sheets, but it could just as easily be in the dressing room at Macy's or in the woods of a public park. The point is urgent need, not a movie scene for shrinking violets.

Forget "give me liberty or give me death".  Give me sex or give me a damn good reason why you feel like I have to be put on a pedestal in order to enjoy me.  And trust me, that reason won't turn me on. But if you ask me to pull off the freeway and ... Well, I promise you, that will.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What turns you on? Part 2: Lifestyle Choices

There are so many things to choose from in regard to lifestyle.  I could blog on lifestyle for days, but instead how about if I list some of my likes and dislikes and then you give me some of yours?  These will be random, from leisure to spiritual to whatever.

First of all, for leisure I really like to paint, play cards, hike and walk in the woods, interact with my parrots, watch movies, and get together with friends. Plays and art galleries are also great. 

I HATE bowling.  Bowling is just plain boring. I would rather stick toothpicks under my fingernails than bowl.  I also dislike watching hockey.  Yawn. Oh, and is there anything more dull than looking at picture after picture of someone's friends or relatives and you don't know a single one of them?  A few pics, fine.  An album? Spare me (that was thrown in for you bowling fans).

I dislike bed & breakfasts.  Most smell like mildew and are decorated like an 80 year old spinster sleeps in the room. Not exactly fantasy inspiring for your man.  Sex with grandma?  Um, no thanks. When getting away for a weekend with my husband, the last thing I want is walls as thin as cardboard and breakfast at a table with a bunch of strangers I am never going to see again.  Call me crazy, but a weekend away with my husband can be spent in a passtime much more fun than quiche and muffins with Joe from Iowa. Before you criticize my choice, consider that the same man has stayed with me for decades.  I must know something about favorite passtimes.
Nor do I enjoy camping.  Um, no thanks.  Although, if I had to camp I would rather bathe in a lake and poop in the woods then use a public shower and toilet.  Sorry.  Not gonna happen.  Give me a whirlpool tub and a bottle of wine or don't ask me to leave my home overnight.  And not in some creaky old bed & breakfast either.

I am spiritual but dislike organized religion.  God clubs don't ring true to me, and usually the people most active in them don't either. Enjoy your club, but don't ask me to become a member or try to scare me into joining. "Believing" out of fear is not faith. It is only being a coward. Check out the definition of "cult". Sound familiar? Had plenty of experience with organized religion in the past. Not happening .  God, or the energy source, knows me.  I know it and I know how to commune with it. End of story. 

I like art that makes me think; be it a painting, movie, book, etc.  It also needs to  cause an emotional reaction.  Does not matter if that reaction is positive or negative, just move me. What do I dislike in art? Well, one of my artist friends had a t-shirt that said "Good art does not match your living room furniture."  I think that about sums it up.

Since I am an indie author, I will also mention what I like to read.  Same as what I listed above for art.  Move me.  Make me think. Don't give me a formula story. People seldom live happily ever after. Don't pretty it up, tell it real. I can take it; I am an adult.

Lastly, and probably most importantly: I love ice cream and buttered popcorn. The reason?  If you have to ask, you must be in a coma.  Some nights I have both.  Yep, I need to lose weight. No one gets out of here alive.
How about you?  Come on, tell it.  I would like to know more about you. Oh, by the way, pass the salt.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What turns you on/off? Part 1: In a friend

As an indie writer, I need to be aware of differences in personality in order to make sure that all of my work does not have the same main character.  I thought it would be fun to share the different things I like and don't like, and then ask you to let me know yours.  This will be broken into different blogs. Today I am talking about what traits make you want to associate with someone and what traits make you want to bop them in the mouth or run away.

One of my biggest turn-offs in regard to hanging with someone is inability to make a decision. Come on, man, choose! I can understand something huge and life changing needing a bit of thought, but what ice cream flavor to get?  This is not going to make or break the rotation of the planet. I find myself avoiding hesitant people as much as possible. For me, their inability to make a decision is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

I will admit that I make decisions too quickly at times.  That has caused some big mistakes in my life.  On the other hand, I learned some valuable things from those mistakes.  The things I learned help me make similar decisions better - and still quickly! If someone thinks so little of their ability to choose that they fool around for a substantial amount of time, I am outa there.  By the time they finally choose ice cream, I have had a cone, a night's sleep, and have worked a full day.

How about people that have to go into extreme detail?  I don't care to know the color and pattern of the drapes in your Aunt's home.  Just cut to the broken leg. Can you tell that I am a person that likes things to move along?

Liars also drive me crazy. What is the point about lying about what you had to eat last night? Or what clothes you bought last Saturday?  I don't get it.  Then, when you point out that they said one thing, but did another, guess what?  They are offended and ask if you are calling them a liar.  Yes!  I am!

Oh God...don't get me started with braggers.  ZZZZZZZZZ.  Need I say more?

What turns me on to a friendship? Someone who knows who they are, but does not shove it down my throat.  They express their opinion and then listen to mine.  Listening is a rare gift few of us have learned.  I know I could stand some improvement there.  I bet almost all of us could.

I also like people who don't treat service workers rudely.  People who are not the loudest person in the bar or restaurant.  And people who actually remember to ask about life events that come up. In other words, I like people who treat others like they want to be treated. 

Most of all, I like people who have an open mind and are inquisitive about where we come from, why we are here and where we are going. That makes for interesting conversations and wonderful possibilities.

What about you?  What traits appeal to you and which ones don't?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Threatened by a hoodie? Ummm, Right.

As an indie author of fiction, even I would find it beyond the realm of possibility that a man could still be walking around free after shooting Trayvon Martin.Yet, the fact remains that George Zimmerman is not arrested.Why?

We all know why. George is white, Trayvon was black and it happened in the gold ol' red necked South. My apologies to those who live down South and have actually moved past the War Between the States. I know many fine people who live there. Unfortunately, many others down there still believe that any black person walking the streets is up to no good. Although racism exists all over the country, the South has more than its fair share of bigots.
Which brings me to another question.  Why do states allow gun laws that say you can shoot if you feel reasonably threatened? Who determines that someone is able to be reasonable? Listen, before you get all up in arms (pardon the pun), think about this: When I was 13 I was almost raped by a male with black hair and blue eyes.It took until I was about 30 to not feel threatened every single time I saw a man with that color hair and eyes.That might seem over the top, but unless you have been raped I don't think you can form a legitimate opinion about my fear.

If any of those black haired, blue eyed boys or men got too close to me on the sidewalk or in a building, my heart pounded. I started to sweat. I wanted to scream. Just imagine how many black haired, blue eyed men I could have shot in 17 years. I was walking around, legally sane, and scared out of my wits by them. Boom. Sorry. You simply had the wrong color of hair and eyes. How many people do you think walk around every day looking reasonable, with unreasonable fears?

However, a hoodie did not cause Trayvon Martin to lose his life. Nor did reasonable fear. Prejudice did, and a vigilante that had illusions of becoming Clint Eastwood. George Zimmerman should be in jail. Shame on us. We should all know better, and we should all demand justice for Trayvon's family, along with tougher gun laws.

The killing of Trayvon Martin does not make me ashamed of being white.  It makes me ashamed of being human.