Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome, Tanja Cilia

In the world of romance writing, authors strive to make their characters picture perfect.  No one wants a flawed hero or heroine, although some have dared cross the line of imperfection. I'm not sure how they fared. For me, romance conjures up visions of shapely women, handsome men, and magnificent couples, so the following article by Tanja Cilia, a new editor with Muse It Up Publishing, makes perfect sense. Do we set our aim too high for reality? Why don't we write about people with real defects?  Is it because society is unforgiving?

Fat Lot of Good

“She used to be a beauty queen” is an expression we hear more often than we used to, partly because of the proliferation of beauty contests, and partly because these days, it’s almost as if for some people, it’s almost the be-all and end-all of their existence – apart from modeling, and singing.

There was a time when the term was used to compliment someone who wore her age well; gradually, the term was also used to mock someone who was down on her luck and perhaps the only contract she would get would be to partner Michelin Man.

There are also those pageant queens who lost their crowns after they were discovered to have been married, or mothers, or involved in underworld activity, risqué modeling shoots, or not adhering to the specifications of the contest requirements.

There was also the ridiculous instance where Olivia O'Neil of New Zealand, Miss Teen Wanganui, was bereft of her crown for a risible offense; she returned to her natural colour (dark brown), having competed, and won, with blond tresses.

Alas, a section of the press was recently alight with the phrase again – and this time it was used in connection with Domonique Ramirez, the 17-year-old who was crowned Miss Antonio last year.

This young lady’s crime was... being too fat. Now we have all read books about how the protégées of sugar daddies who finally get to marry them have to sign pre-nuptials stipulating that they never get above a certain weight.

The same thing happened to Ms Ramirez - without a Hefner in sight. In her case, she had to maintain her weight at 129 pounds for 5’8, which she had been on the day she was crowned. Like O’Neil , albeit for a different reason, she had not maintained the image that had won her the contest.

Her crime was that she ate “too many tacos”. Apparently, she is also one of those women who took modeling jobs that were not endorsed by the organization that crowned her, and arrived late for activities that she was duty bound to host or simply attend.

All this was good news for Ashley Dixon the first runner-up, who has now been handed the crown on a silver platter, in a manner of speaking. In an obvious put-down to Ramirez, Dixon was touted as a “... talented, mature young woman who will encourage and serve as a positive role model for our youth."

This intimates that anyone who is not thin makes a bad role model – morals, empathy, dress sense and manners do not matter any more. Or is it that a role model must simply toe the line drawn by superiors, even when it comes to morals and so forth?

Despite slogans like “The Hourglass is the new Zero”, despite the ban on Size Zero Women and Manorexic Men, and the deaths of several high-profile models from anorexia, it seems that matchstick men and women are still in demand when it comes to serving as clothes hangers, perhaps because that’s what they look like.

I would say that designers sometimes go for the prepubescent look, the androgynous look, the bi-sexual, the skeletal look, and even the genderless look, to shock us into noticing their clothes. Then, we notice the models – who all appear to have come out of the same clone mill, where even the term Reduced Fat is a considered a profanity.

Whatever’s next? A thin male model in a wedding gown? Someone who looks like a Klingon, only with make-up slapped on more artistically? Oops! I’d almost forgotten Andrej Pejic and Andre J.

You can view another awesome article by Tanja here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Today, I'm pleased to share six sentences from my upcoming release from Eternal Press.  The Locket is the first and only book I've ever written that has an object as the main focus.  Here's my six sentences on this dreary Sunday in Tennessee (okay I cheated and put in the last sentence in the paragraph.)

O'Day closed his notebook, stuffed it in his breast pocket, and with a cigarette and lighter already in hand, headed for the door. His report was conclusive.  Sally Curshaw killed herself for reasons unknown. It happened sometimes, and evidence from her autopsy proved the gunshot had been self-inflicted. One more case closed. He stepped outside and lit a cigarette, inhaling deeply to satisfy his craving. The cloud of smoke he exhaled brought with it a cough that grew deeper with each passing day.

You'll excuse me if I do a happy dance, since the video for this book won third place in the You Gotta Read February video contest.  Thanks to everyone who cast a vote for me.  I was honored to be in the company of great creative minds. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Guesting Today: Roseanne Dowell

Everyone always asks me how I come up with the idea for my stories. I’ll try to explain. For Stranger on the Shore- well, I love the beach, always have. I don’t spend as much time there as I’d like to, but for several years, when my children were younger, we rented a cottage every summer in Lakeside, OH. Unfortunately not on the beach, but we often walked along the beach and looked and dreamed about the cottages that lined the shoreline. 

Of course, I wondered what it would be like to be there during a storm, especially a winter storm. Lake Erie is known for unexpected storms kicking up and Lake Effect snow. Since I’m no stranger to the crippling results of some of those snow storms, an idea developed. 

Once my writer’s imagination took over, there was no turning back. I learned a long time ago not to ignore my muse.  So, I pictured being alone in a house by the lake. It was only natural for my heroine to be a writer. I often dreamed of a quiet place to write with no one to interrupt and Lakeside inspired me for some reason.
Being a romance writer, besides a heroine, I needed a hero and what a better way to introduce one than to have him wash up on the shore, unconscious.

As I do with all my stories, after an idea forms, I know the beginning and the end, what happens in the middle is as much a surprise to me as it is to the readers.
Stranger on the Shore will be released March 1st from Muse It Up Publishing -
You can check out my website and learn more about my books
or my blog to learn more about me and other authors.
Excerpt from Strange on the Shore:

“Darn, it’s getting cold.” Jordan shivered and zipped her sweat shirt.  She hated storms, hated thunder and lightning most of all.  Grabbing at some papers that flew across the deck as the wind picked up, a movement caught the corner of her eye. Something washed up on the shore. Something big. A body? 

Jordan jumped off the deck and raced toward the craggy shoreline.  Dark clouds hovered across the lake. Cold water splashed against her as waves crashed against the rocks like angry arms hurling water at an invisible enemy. The crash of thunder echoed across the lake. Ducking her head as lightening streaked across the sky and the air crackled with electricity, she thought she must be nuts. Probably just a bunch of old clothes washed up. Still, she had to see for herself. 

Surely, no one in their right mind would be in the water this time of year? There had been storm warnings on the radio all morning. No one would be stupid enough to ignore the forecast. Would they? Heavy rain and strong winds then turning to snow, with a drastic drop in temperature, and blizzard-like conditions weren’t anything to ignore. Jordan winced as lightning flashed again, back-lighting the dark clouds.  Darn it, she wanted to be inside cuddling by the fire not out here in a storm. For two cents, she’d turn around and go back. But something drew her forward.

A man’s body against the rocks.

Oh, Lord, please don’t let him be dead. She had planned for a quiet weekend, writing. A weekend with a corpse wasn’t on her list of quiet. But she couldn’t leave him out here either. 

 Jordan came closer and stooped down next to him. Lifting his head out of the water, above the crashing waves, she felt for a pulse. Thank God, he’s alive. Now how to get him out of here? She grabbed his arm, rolled him over and tried to pull him from the fury of the lake. Wave after wave pounced on him, their foamy peaks trying to reclaim him. Lord, if she ever needed help, now was the time.  Struggling to roll him to higher ground, she lost her breath. His long, muscular frame outweighed her slender five foot two body and felt like dead weight.

 “You’re going to have to help me.” Jordan grunted and gasped for breath when the full force of icy waves pulled her down and washed over both of them.

No response. 

“Damn it. I can’t do this alone.” 

Still no response.

Great, how was she going to pull him to safety? “I hate to do this, but I see no alternative.” Jordan took a deep breath and pushed him over, rolling him like a barrel and trying to avoid cutting him on the sharp rocks. It wasn’t easy, but at least he moved.

“Come on!” Jordan tried to encourage some life from his limp body.  Once he was far enough away from the waves, she stared at him for a moment, before leaning down to give him mouth to mouth. His long straight nose, eyes set wide with bushy eyebrows and the grin on his lips, even in his unconscious state, sent a ripple of excitement through her body.

Not a handsome man, but something about him caused heat deep inside her. Shrugging off the urge to run her fingers through his curly black hair, she began mouth to mouth. When her mouth touched his lips, opened them slightly, something familiar tugged on her heart. She hadn’t touched a man's lips in, what, three years. This wasn’t exactly the way she imagined touching them again. Not that she ever imagined it. Never even thought about it. She’d had enough of men to last her a lifetime.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Freaky Friday

Last night we had severe straight line winds that blew through in about five minutes, leaving trees and power poles down and wreaking havoc. We heard a large crash outside the back door of our condo, and hubby said, "I don't think we have a fence anymore."

Now, I'm from California, and I'm used to the ground shaking once in a while, but I never expected the wind to pick up our BBQ and throw it through the privacy fence, but it did.

This is tornado season in Tennessee, and we were under a warning until around midnight. That means that weather preempts all my favorite shows.  They don't mess around here when it comes to storms.

 I've already witnessed the aftermath of two of them here in Tennessee, and I don't want to come any closer than I did with the last.  We were still living with my son and his wife, and the five of us huddled in their basement closet while the wind sucked the air from our lungs and sounded like a freight train passing by.

The swirling dervish missed my son's house by very little, and walking to the end of the street and viewing the swath of destruction was horrible.  That twister killed seven people here in Gallatin.  Now I'm asking myself if there really is a safe place to live right now.  Seems Mother Nature is pissed at all of us.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Contest - Get Published

Shoot for the Moon...Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars - Brian Littrell

BWLPP presents their Shoot for the Moon Contest.

Do you have what it takes to be a BWLPP Author?

Books We Love Publishing Partners (BWLPP), a by-invitation-only publisher, is opening their doors to submissions from now through April 30, 2011. We're looking for high quality manuscripts from published or unpublished authors in three categories:

· Mystery/Suspense. Any sub-genre within this category welcome, non-erotic if romance, please.

· Romance. Again, any sub-genre is fine. These stories should be sweet to sensual romance, non-erotic.

· Spice. Erotic romance in any sub-genre. All the usual caveats apply: No pedophilia, no rape as titillation, no bodily functions, no necrophilia (excluding bloodsucking undead) and no bestiality (excluding shape-shifters).

The top two manuscripts in each category, with sufficient potential, will be chosen to receive a publishing contract with BWLPP which includes editing, cover art and promotion.

Manuscripts should be a minimum of 25K, longer works welcome. Formatting: One inch page margins, Times New Roman 12 pt. font, single spaced, justified, first line indent .05, sent in .rtf as an attachment. Please enter completed manuscripts only.

Submit synopsis and first three chapters (roughly 5K) to by April 30, 2011. Full manuscripts may be requested at any time. Winners will be notified and announced the first week in May. Direct questions to above email address.

Good Luck and always Shoot for the Moon!


Everyone who comments on this post will receive an extra entry into BWLPP's Great Kindle Giveaway Contest. Winner must be a member of BWLPP's mailing list. Find the list here:
Limit one additional entry per week.

I'm a BWLPP Author, and very proud to be one.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Today, I'm featuring six sentences from my current work-in-progress (WIP) with hopes that Hattie will start talking to me again so I can finish her story.  She's quite stubborn as opposed to my other heroines. I even have the cover ready for this one so all I need is my muse...Come on, Hattie, peel off that Duct tape and talk to me.

Hattie's Hero:

   Despite her churning innards, she closed the gap between them on leaden legs, managing a weak smile. His tailored charcoal frock coat, starched white shirt and perfectly pressed trousers indicated a man of means. His thick mustache, broad shoulders, and angular jaw made him quite attractive, but clearly impatient if his tapping foot was any indication. A glance down at her tacky apparel brought warmth to her cheeks.  If her employment rested on her looks… 
   She clamped the frayed handle of her valise so tightly, her nails dug into her palms.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I have no idea who wrote this awesome advice.  I giggled my way through it and thought it worthy of sharing.  It came via email with no identification, so thank you to the the person with the amazing sense of humor who shared a personal moment.

All hair removal methods have tricked women with their promises of easy, painless removal - The Epilady, scissors, razors, Nair and now...the wax.
Read on..........
My night began as any other normal weeknight. Fix dinner, watch the grand kids come and go.

I then had the thought that would ring painfully in my mind for the next few hours: 'Maybe I should get the waxing kit from the medicine cabinet.

So I headed to the site of my demise: the bathroom.

It was one of those 'cold wax' kits. No melting a clump of hot wax, you
just rub the strips together in your hand, they get warm and you peel them
apart and press them to your leg (or wherever else) and you pull the hair
right off. No muss, no fuss. How hard can it be?

I mean, I'm not a genius, but I am mechanically inclined enough to figure
this out. (YA THINK!?!) So I pull one of the thin strips out. Its two strips facing each other stuck together.

Instead of rubbing them together, my genius kicks in so I get out the hair
dryer and heat it to 1000 degrees. ('Cold wax,' yeah...right!)

I lay the strip across my thigh. Hold the skin around it tight and pull.

It works!

OK, so it wasn't the best feeling, but it wasn't too bad. I can do this!
Hair removal no longer eludes me!

I am She-rah, fighter of all wayward body hair and maker of smooth skin

With my next wax strip I move north. After checking on the family, I
sneak back into the bathroom for the ultimate hair fighting championship.

I drop my granny panties and place one foot on the toilet..

Using the same procedure, I apply the wax strip across the right side of
my bikini line, covering the right half of my hoo-ha and stretching down to
the inside of my butt cheek (it was a long strip).

I inhale deeply and brace myself.... RRRRIIIPPP!!!!

I'm blind!!! Blinded from pain!!!!..... OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!!! Vision
returning, I notice that I've only managed to pull off half the strip.


Another deep breath and RIPP! Everything is spinning and spotted.

I think I may pass out.... I must stay conscious... I must stay conscious..

Do I hear crashing drums??? Breathe, breathe.... OK, back to normal.

I want to see my trophy - a wax covered strip, the one that has caused me
so much pain, with my hairy pelt sticking to it. I want to revel in the
glory that is my triumph over body hair.

I hold up the strip!

There's no hair on it.

Where is the hair???


Slowly I ease my head down, foot still perched on the toilet.

I see the hair. The hair that should be on the strip... it's not!

I touch.. I am touching wax.

I run my fingers over the most sensitive part of my body, which is now
covered in cold wax and matted hair.

Then I make the next BIG mistake ... remember my foot is still propped
upon the toilet? So I put my foot down.

Sealed shut! My butt is sealed shut. Sealed shut! I penguin walk around
the bathroom trying to figure out what to do and think to myself 'Please
don't let me get the urge to poop.. My head may pop off!'

What can I do to melt the wax?

Hot water!! Hot water melts wax!! I'll run the hottest water I can
stand in the bathtub, get in, immerse the wax-covered bits and the wax
should melt and I can gently wipe it off, right ???


I get in the tub - the water is slightly hotter than that used to torture
prisoners of war or sterilize surgical equipment - I sit.

Now, the only thing worse than having your nether regions glued together,
is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of the tub....
in scalding hot water.

Which, by the way, does not melt cold wax.

So, now I'm stuck to the bottom of the tub as though I had cemented myself
to the porcelain!!

God bless the AT&T man who had convinced me a few months ago to have a
phone put in the bathroom!!!!!

I call my friend, thinking surely she has waxed before and has some secret
of how to get me undone. It's a very good conversation starter.

'So, my butt and hoo-ha are glued together to the bottom of the tub!'

There is a slight pause. She doesn't know any secret tricks for removal
but she does try to hide her laughter from me.

She wants to know exactly where the wax is located, 'Are we talking cheeks
or hoo-ha?'

She's laughing out loud by now ... I can hear her.

I give her the rundown and she suggests I call the number on the side of
the box.

YEAH!!!!! Right!! I should be the joke of someone else's night.

While we go through various solutions, I resort to trying to scrape the
wax off with a razor. Nothing feels better than to have your girlie
goodies covered in hot wax, glued shut, stuck to the tub in super hot water and
then dry-shaving the sticky wax off!!

By now the brain is not working, dignity has taken a major hike and I'm
pretty sure I'm going to need Post-Traumatic Stress counseling for this

My friend is still talking with me when I finally see my saving grace......
the lotion they give you to remove the excess wax.

What do I really have to lose at this point?

I rub some on and OH MY GOD!!! The scream probably woke the family and
scared the dickens out of my friend.

It's sooo painful, but I really don't care.


I get a hearty congratulation from my friend and she hangs up. I
successfully remove the remainder of the wax and then notice to my grief
and despair....THE HAIR IS STILL THERE.......ALL OF IT!

So I recklessly shave it off. Heck, I'm numb by now. Nothing hurts.
I could have amputated my own leg at this point.

Next week I'm going to try hair bad can that turn out???

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Odessa is here!

Born on February 7th, around 3:30 PM EST, my latest baby made her appearance.  This was a fun book to write, and as most of my other western historical romances, is sweet enough for your teenage daughters to read. 

Here's a blurb and a short excerpt:

The wagon carrying Odessa Clay and her father overturns, killing him.  Alone and scared in the middle of the desert, she faces finding her way to Phoenix and Aunt Susan. Food and water run out, and Odessa is near death when Zach Johnson finds her.  Squinting up into his tanned and handsome face, Dessie believes she’s died and gone to heaven.

Would-be-outlaw, Zach Johnson finds an unconscious woman alone in the middle of nowhere.  Where did she come from?  First glance: she appears young, but the curves beneath the dusty gingham say otherwise.  He didn’t plan to become someone’s hero, but how can he leave her stranded?

Will the promise of Odessa’s sweet lips lure Zach from the secret mission that has his gut twisted into a knot?  His father’s ranch isn’t the only thing at stake—now it’s his heart.


Odessa Clay struggled to lift the overturned wagon off her father. Her muscles burned and splinters dug into her palms, but Papa’s ashen face and eyes squinting with pain inspired her determination. She bit her bottom lip and struggled to stay calm.

“God, please help me,” she muttered through clenched teeth, as she pushed, shoved, and lifted with every ounce of strength she had left. The veins in the backs of her hands bulged, but the wagon didn’t budge. At one hundred pounds and barely five feet tall, she proved no match for solid wood. Her chest heaved and
each breath took effort. She brushed sweat-dampened hair from her brow and knelt. All her struggling had only succeeded in setting the left rear wheel into a slow spin and creating an eerie whirring in the silence.

“Hold on, Papa. I’ll find some way to help you.” Her nails bit into her fisted palms.
His pale features contorted, and fear clutched her heart. She rose and stared up and down the trail. Nothing stirred except the hot wind that whipped her long hair into tangles and sent a dust funnel swirling in the distance.

Turning her attention back to her father, she again attempted to lift the wagon’s cumbersome weight and failed.

“Can anyone hear me?” She screamed the words as she searched the trail again. 

The dirt road unfurled like a brown ribbon between the expanse of cactus and sagebrush. Odessa, refusing to let her father see her hopelessness, blinked back tears.

Anger heated her blood. This was all her fault. First her mother died giving birth, and now her father was dying because of her.

He wanted her to have a woman’s influence in her life—have more opportunities. Their trip had gone smoothly until Papa failed to see a treacherous spot in the trail in time for the team to avoid it.
The same wheel that spun now had been the one that slipped into a ragged rut and tipped the wagon over. She’d jumped clear, but her father remained pinned beneath the sideboard from the waist down. The accident snapped the harness rigging, and the animals ran off. What she wouldn’t give for one to wander back right now.

She rushed to the other side and pulled with all her might on the front wheel. Praying for strength, she gritted her teeth and tugged until splinters from the prickly-wooded spoke tore into her flesh. There was nothing she could do. The wagon wouldn’t shift.

Something stung above her left eye and she swiped her knuckles across the spot. Blood mixed with the dirt on her hand and created rust-colored mud. She wiped the stain on her sleeve and scanned the area for something to use for leverage. Her father had often lifted things by using a piece of wood or a log from a fallen
tree. She hitched up her skirt and traipsed through sparse knee high
weeds, praying to find something—anything.

“Stay with me, Papa, I’m looking.” She cast another hopeful glance at the trail. Still no one in sight. Why had they decided to make this wretched trip to Phoenix? Just because Aunt Susan lived there? Odessa’s stomach churned with fear and her mind
spun in a hundred directions. What if she couldn’t get Papa out?

She spied nothing but rocks, boulders and a broken saguaro arm too rotten to use. Her shoulders sagged as she returned empty handed to the wagon. Her father’s face appeared even more ashen and his breathing ragged. A scarlet pool colored the dirt beneath him. She hunkered beside him and took his hand. Why had God let this happen?

Before she found her voice, his eyes fluttered open. “Don’t fret, Dessie. I’m not afraid to die. Your Ma is waiting for me.” His weak voice faded into a cough then his face puckered into a grimace. He licked his lips.

“Do you want water, Papa?” She swiveled to fetch the canteen, but he grabbed her arm.“

No.” He took a shallow breath. “I’m worried about you, darlin’. Find your Aunt Susan and let her know what happened. She’ll take care of you.” He moaned and swallowed hard. “All I know is she'd somewhere close to Phoenix.  Tell her I'm sor..."

Odessa squeezed his hand. “Don’t leave me, Papa.”

His hand slackened in hers, and a final breath escaped his already blue lips. She remembered the distinct death rattle from when her grandmother passed away a few months back. Odessa collapsed across her father and wept. The day had started out with such excitement, and now she’d become an orphan. Being alone
in the middle of nowhere magnified the pain of her loss. Was she destined to die too?

She sat up and gazed through blurred eyes at her father’s face. Her chest ached as though someone embedded a knife within her heart. If not for the smudges of blood and dirt on Papa’s cheeks, he almost appeared to be sleeping. In a way he was. The eternal sleep of the angels. She splayed her fingers through his hair and sobbed. 

“Please wake up. I don’t want to be alone.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Profound Words - Forgiveness

It's not every day that you learn something from watching television, especially if you can apply it to your own life.  The message was forgiveness, and I listened when Oprah interviewed twin young ladies who had been molested by their older brothers and their father most of their lives.  What made it worse, their mother knew and turned a blind eye.  How do your forgive that?

My problems in life haven't been nearly that serious, but I do know what it feels like to carry a ton of hatred.  The only person it weighs down is me.  You see, in 2002,  two fellow co-workers and I were sued by another for racial discrimination.  We had worked alongside this person for eight years and never treated her any differently than we treated one another.  In fact, there were many times I toted her work home to help her manage her load.  What's worse, like the mother in the case above, my employer turned a blind eye when they knew trouble was brewing years before.  Why they didn't call us in and discuss it, was beyond me.  We lost three valuable employees because of her and her inability to get along and had even gone to mediation three times on our own to try to resolve any issues she had.  The entire time, she insisted she had none.  I was so certain that after 20 plus years of proven exemplary service, my employer would comply with my request (and doctor's orders) to work apart from her.  Wrong!

It's a long terrible story, and  I didn't have the mental strength to remain without confronting her and asking WHY.  I eventually took an early retirement, and every month when my check comes I see what her selfish actions cost me.  What's worse... I still have no idea what I did to her.  I was handed the "papers" from the attorney and instructed to continue working with her as I had in the past, not ask any questions, nor discuss the case with anyone outside the university attorneys.

My best friend and a person named in the suit died in 2003 from Pancreatic Cancer.  The person suing us had the nerve to come to Pat's memorial service.  I bit my tongue and gave my eulogy for a friend who died way too young, and probably from the added stress of being sued. Guess who I blamed.

The one person who remained of the three is now the head of the department...something I might have achieved had I been a stronger person.  The person who sued?  She has my job.  I find it laughable since she couldn't even handle her own, but now I can pity her instead of hate her.  She's the one who has to live with what she's done, but then maybe she has no conscience. Mine is clear.

In a moment of hatred, I had planned to write a book entitled "Souled Out" about my experience at the University of California. I intended to name names and tell my story...resolution and retribution, but that idea would only dredge up more pain and angst for me and serve no purpose.  I'm not a litigious person, but I wish I had sued my employer for letting things get so far.  How can you fix something when you don't know it's broken?

What Oprah said made perfect sense.  To find peace you have to find forgiveness, BUT forgiveness doesn't mean you want that person back in your life, it simply means that you accept that the past cannot be any different than it was.  That's a tall order, but when you think about it, you can lighten your load and ease the burden you've carried with you.  I accept that the past can never change, I can't go back and fix anything, but I can let it go and move on.

So, thanks to Oprah, I forgive ******.  There is something to be said for peace of mind.  Oh, and Glynda...I forgive you, too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Best and Worst of Valentine Memories

I'm part of the Coffee Crew now at CTR, and I was so deeply touched by the post added by another member in a discussion of things we remember most about what is supposed to be the most "romantic" day of the year.  I asked permission from Virginia Nelson to share this with you.  After all, isn't Valentines truly supposed to be more than cards, chocolates and roses?

By Virginia Nelson:

I initially didn't answer this one.  I haven't celebrated Valentine's Day, other than to dread it, since I was sixteen.

But it has been bugging me and since it has, I thought I would share why this holiday is rough for me.

My first boyfriend evolved out of my first best friend.  You know, that kid you eat mud with... climb trees with... that first good friend.

He took me on my first date for my thirteenth Valentine's Day.  It was my first date ever and we were going to a church dinner at the Roadhouse, (Then Brown Derby but I digress).

He showed up at my house with a three foot tall Ziggy card (I remember the words to this day... Ziggy was huge on the front and he advised the reader to place their left hand on their right shoulder and vice versa and squeeze...) a dozen longstem red roses, a box of chocolate, red heart shaped earrings and a tiny gold ring (my first real gold and real diamond ring even if the diamond was little more than dust...) and the shape of the ring was called the Love Knot.

He said, as we talked over steak, that he wanted my first date to be my best one and no one to ever be able to top it first-date-wise.

I am 33 years old and no one has.

He had these gorgeous golden curls.  They were long and I used to wrap my fingers in them and watch the curls bounce back into place...

That same year, his back hurt.  All the time.  At first it was called growing pains.  Then they advised his parents to buy him a new bed.

Then they did some tests on his back...

And found that his kidney was the size of a cantaloupe.  It was cancer.

I spent that year watching the curls fall out.  He and I laughed and I bought a pin and wore it all the time that advised, "Bald guys are sexy."

I learned how to clean the tube that piped food and medicines from a backpack to a place above his heart... when he was too sick to eat anymore.

He had pictures of me (I was a model at the time... the nurses teased him about his hot girlfriend and he ate it up...) all around his bed at the hospital.

I remember, during that summer, riding in his mom's van with the windows all open and Free Falling blasting on the radio and his head in my lap, closing my eyes and hoping it wouldn't ever end.  It was perfect, even if it was terrifying.

We had a date to celebrate our anniversary.  Valentines Day.  He had just turned 16 and I couldn't wait to be able to drive in a few months myself...

I didn't cry when I found out he died the week of Valentine's Day.

I didn't cry at his calling hours.

I stood over him and worried that I looked okay. About nothing things...

When my mom showed up and met me at the casket she said, "You know you can touch him."

I scoffed.  Of course I knew that.  It wasn't my first funeral.

I reached out a hand and closed it over his.

And his fingers didn't grip mine.  For as long as I could remember, when my fingers met his, his had closed around mine.

And I shattered.  It was real.  He was gone.  And with him he took all that was pure and sweet and untarnishable in my life.

Since he has been gone, I have lived a life I wouldn't have dreamed of back then.  I have had children, married and divorced and traveled to many of the places that he and I planned to see.

But a little part of me, a bigger part when that anniversary comes around, still remembers the feeling of his golden curls warm in my fingers, his face smiling, while the wind whirled through the van and Free Falling blasted through it all like the theme song to our life...

And no hearts and flowers will ever bring that back.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Welcome, Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz as she winds down her blog tour...

It's my pleasure to interview Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz about A Past and A Future, a collection of sixteen short stories.  This is book is available in print at

Penny will be awarding a free story to one lucky commenter, so be sure and leave your name and email to enter the drawing.

1)      Tell me a little about your book.
My collection of stories,  A Past and a Future, is published by Sam’s Dot Publishing.  I’ve always enjoyed fantasy and soft science fiction.  Eight of the sixteen stories included in the selection are fantasy, and the other eight are soft science fiction. 
A PAST AND A FUTURE – stories in the collection:
FLIGHT OF THE ROC – Girl collides with a roc as she struggles to find her magic powers
BLURRED VENGEANCE – Vain and aggressive, Temur ignores the warnings as he seeks vengeance for his father’s death
WHO WILL HEAL THE HEALER – How can a young sorceress save her mentor when the powers of darkness threaten?
ASHLEY OF ASHLAND – Will the plain, younger brother win the heart of the fair princess or be executed as a traitor?
THE WATCHER – Her vision causes her to become a betrayer of all she holds dear.  Can she be saved?
ENCHANTRESS – Merlin knows the one he loves will be his downfall, but can he win in the end?
DRAKONI – Torn from her modern day world and thrust into a world of dragons, evil magicians, and handsome elves, will Farah succeed or die trying?
HESHE- Forced to hide as a young man, will the young noble woman tell her benefactor who she is, or will her pursuers capture her and take her back into slavery.
THE BABY MAKERS – In a world where cloning is possible, will Reese be able to save his illegal newborn child from a government determined to make her a non-citizen?
3-D PICTURES – The government thinks he is crazy and sends him to a shrink.  What will Avery do when the elves appear in the 3-D picture in the waiting room?  Go or allow himself to be “cured?”
SCREEN SAVER – The program arrives as a demo.  Will it be Clancy’s ticket to survival or a rip-off which brings him to destruction?
ISOLATION- The world as we know it is gone.  The rich are isolated from the dying poor.  Will Caryn and Rader make the right decision when they search for freedom?
LOVE IN A DIFFERENT HUE – What would you do if a blue-skinned robot wanted to protect and love you?  Chiri isn’t sure until he takes her in his arms.
DOWN SO LOW, THE GROUND LOOKS LIKE UP – Sylvan drinks herself into oblivion to compensate for her psi talents.  Can Deveneaux save her from her demons, or will he lock her up for propositioning an officer of the law?
REBELS WITH A CAUSE – Shayleena is tired of living her life through holovision.  She wants a real life with real people.  Will she find it as a volunteer for juvenile offenders, or will she be mugged and left to die?
CLOCKWORKS – John lives in Structured.  His ancestors came from a country where time means nothing. What will he do when he tries to trace his roots and finds his structured life is now in chaos?

2)      What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I’ve always enjoyed writing short stories. While some writers find them more difficult, I find them easier than writing a novel. I like the challenge of fitting a complete story within a limited number of words.  I’ve written a number of these over the years and decided it would be fun to put them together into a collection.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I split my time between writing my own stories and editing for two small publishers.  I sometimes find I spend more time working on other people’s writing than my own, but that’s okay.  When a story idea strikes me, that’s the time I write.  I tend to write in bursts, which is why I enjoy writing short stories more than novels.

4)      When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was just a child (Don’t most writers say this?), I entertained myself by writing stories, illustrating them, and binding them between shirt cardboard, tied with a ribbon.  In high school, I convinced my English teacher to let me write a novel instead of doing my English homework.  It was fun, but the novel was never completed. I continued to enjoy writing and pretty much always knew someday I’d be published.

5)      What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I read to escape, and I hope my readers will do the same thing.  I am not into deep thought-provoking stories.  I write to entertain myself, and I would like my readers to be entertained as well.

6)      Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I write in a lot of different areas.  My middle grade novels are both paranormal mysteries.  My adult fiction tends to be fantasy or science fiction, although I also dabble in romance.  I like to write about relationships, and all my stories have some kind of relationship going whether it’s overt or covert.

7)      What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The toughest thing for me is marketing.  I’m an introvert in a lot of ways and going out and “tooting my own horn,” is difficult for me.  Internet marketing is a lot easier as it’s all done through the written word as opposed to a book signing where I have to meet and greet prospective readers.  Unfortunately, marketing has to be done, or books aren’t sold.  I’ve gotten better at approaching people to host me on their blogs, like you’ve done for me, and knocking on book store doors and asking to be a guest.

8) What about your book makes it special?
I think this is special because it is a collection of short stories.  It is not a themed collection, but a little of something for everyone.  There are eight fantasy stories and eight soft science fiction stories, yet each one is about a relationship and connecting with people in some way or another.

9) What is your marketing plan?
I have approached a number of bloggers, like yourself, who feature other authors on their blogs.  I am appearing for the next couple of weeks talking about myself and my book.  I have been writing tweets on Twitter and posting on Facebook.  I will also be making announcements on various forums to which I belong.  Finally, I plan to approach my three local bookstores to see if they will either host me for a book signing, or at least carry my book.

10) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have my web page and a blog where I feature other writers, occasional reviews, and writing tips. I am also on Facebook, Twitter, Jacketflap, Amazon, and a few other sites.

11) What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?

Most of the work is written as Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz, with the exception of my middle grade novels and picture books, which are written as Penny Lockwood.

A Past and A Future (short story collection) is now available

Ghost for Rent – writing as Penny Lockwood (middle grade novel) is now available (also on Amazon)

Dragon Sight (YA illustrated chapbook) is now available

Love Delivery, (contemporary romance) coming August, 2011
Lady in Waiting, (historical romance) coming November, 2011

All the following are written as Penny Lockwood:
Funny Dog, (picture book) coming May, 2012
Ghost for Lunch, (MG novel) coming September, 2013
Many Colored Coats, (picture book) coming October, 2014
Boo's Bad Day, (picture book) coming June, 2015

12) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Read, read, read.  Always read both current and classic authors in the genre you wish to write.  You don’t want to copy their work, but you do want to read with an open mind to see what they have done to make their stories work.  I also encourage everyone not to give up after a rejection.  What one editor may not like, another will love.  You won’t get published by leaving the story sitting on your hard drive or in your file.

Thanks for having me as a guest today.  

My pleasure, Penny.  You're welcome to "Dish It Out" any time.  :)  And, don't forget to follow Penny on her last three stops: Feb 13, 7 PM EST, The Writer’s Chat room  Feb 14 Kelly Harmon  Feb 15 - Su Halfwerk

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cross This Off My Bucket List...

If you look really close, you'll notice Sister's in Time finally made the shelf in Wal-mart.

Okay, okay.  So I smuggled it inside, tucked in my jacket and put it on the shelf,  then took this cheesy picture, but I figure now I can say, and actually have proof that you can find my book(s) at Wal-mart...of course only on certain days and when I'm in the direct vicinity with a book and my camera.  Sometimes you just have to be creative.

I would like to add that I did get some strange looks while I lingered in the book section.  One woman even gasped when I took the book off the shelf and stuck it in my purse.  I defied someone to approach me about shoplifting...of course I might have had a hard time explaining my motive.  Yes, my dear friends, I've finally crossed the line between sanity and insanity.

The best I can do is a virtual shelf.  :(

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Muse It Hot???

Coryne recently acquired a substantial amount of money, but her life still lacks something important. Keith Patterson, the handsome hunk she hires to build her new home, is more enticing that she can stand, but she buries herself in her legal work while he and his crew work tirelessly to meet her set-in-stone deadline. It’s been a long time since she’s been intimate with a man, and her body yearns for fulfillment. Talk about vivid dreams.

Forever With You by L.J. Holmes raises questions from the beginning that keep you turning pages to find the answers. Where did Coryne’s sudden windfall come from? Why does she resist temptation from a willing and handsome man? Why is the timely completion of her new home so vital?

This is a fast read, but one that will surprise you in the end. L.J. Holmes delivers a warm fuzzy feeling you don’t see coming. Treat yourself to a copy of your own at Muse It Up Publishing. Muse It Hot…for sure.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Another Book Review but not for me...

Call Me Duchess by Maggie Dove

Can't decide which genre you like...historical, mystery, suspense, women's fiction?  Then you'll love Call Me Duchess by Maggie Dove because it fits the enjoyment bill on so many levels.  In this novel, you aren't just treated to a hero and a heroine, but an entire dysfunctional family in which a deceased mother leaves three daughters with an irresponsible father whose lust for gambling exceeds his love for the welfare of his girls. With everything of value lost, he unloads his lovely, unwed young ladies on their aunt, leaving them with a list of names and qualifications of appropriate husbands from which dear old dad expects to sponge. 

The quote, "be careful what you wish you," rings very true with young Marguerite Wiggins.  She has her cap set for the Duke of Wallingford since she's adored him forever. Sadly, she unknowingly insults him, believing the voice behind her is the cad who made inappropriate advances.  Ashton James, the man elected as the young ladies' chaperone eventually catches her eye, but he has a secret. He's not the only one.  A rapist is on the loose, and the mystery keeps you turning pages as he shares his dark and foreboding POV throughout the book.

How Ms. Dove managed so many subplots and tied each of them up with the style and talent of a great author leaves me speechless.  The only question still in my mind is why the heck did those English folks back in the day have so many titles and names?  It took a while, but managed to connect title to person and vice a versa.

Every character had a distinct personality, which I loved.  I connected with everyone of them and felt like I was part of the "Season."  If I tell you I stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning because I couldn't put the book down (okay...actually my Kindle), does that tell you how much I enjoyed Call Me Duchess?  Heck, if Maggie Dove wrote a menu, I'd stand in line to read it.

The book is published by Eternal Press.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hooray, Odessa is here...finally

Odessa was one of my more stubborn characters.  She only talked when she wanted to, so it took me longer to finish her story.  Today, Eternal Press is releasing my latest historical western romance.  It will be available in both download and print, and even better, Kindle and Nook.

Although my stories are fictional, when you write historical, you must have your facts straight.  I've mentioned two people in the dedication, Janice Hendricks and Keith Davis from the Tombstone Times who went above and beyond when I asked for their help.  I discovered all kinds of interesting facts about Arizona and how it's progressed through the years.  Sometimes, the research alone is like someone telling me a story.

There is a bit of danger in research though.  Not long ago, a mainstream author was accused of plagiarism in her research data.  I believe she lost her contract with a publisher over something that any author could easily do.  You MUST use your own words and not those of someone else. I can totally understand how this happened when describing something like a yucca plant that I know nothing about.  I can imagine as more and more authors become published, it's going to get a lot harder not to duplicate words, titles, and even story lines. One thing is a sure bet though...historical buffs are out there and they will spot any inaccuracies and point them out. 

Let's hope I don't have any problem areas in Odessa. I love the story, and I adore Odessa.  And then there's Zach.  Oh-la-la.

You can read all about Odessa on my website.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

From Tender Return, available at Red Rose Publishing.  The story takes place in 1943 during World War II:

Meagan Murphy  bolted upright.  She strained to hear what woke her, but the room remained silent.

She squinted until her eyes adjusted to the muted rays from the streetlight below her window.  Shadowed movement of tree limbs outside danced across the wall. Everything took on a eerie form.  The sweater she'd draped over the chair gave the appearance of someone sitting, and when she realized it wasn't, she released a pent up breath.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Murder is a Family Business

I've decided to give up my column in lieu of cutting back on my responsibilities. Through reviewing,  I intended to give more exposure to our industry, but the inception of ebook readers has done that already.  Therefore, I'm only going to review books I've read that I feel compelled to share.  I just finished Heather Haven's Murder is a Family Business and I was pleasantly surprised with the infusion of humor the author has added to this suspensful read. I never figured whodunnit until Liana shared the culprit's name with me.
You see, Liana Alvarez is part of a  private investigavtive business that deals mainly with computer software theft.  At thirty-four-years old, she and her fashionista mother don't always see eye-to-eye, but Mom's the boss and calls the shots.  Lee, as she's called, also doesn't share much in common with her nerdy computer-geek brother,, but they all work together in a family operation.   Uncle Tio and Tugger the kitty add even more of a family air to the story.

While Lee is staking out the husband of her mother's friend, she doesn't expect to get caught in a rainstorm, almost get struck by lightning, take a bath in San Francisco Bay or find the object of her surveillance dead.  The twists and turns the story takes will keep you turning pages, and the writing style will put you in the character's shoes.  Expect to giggle, as the verbal exchanges between the family members may strike a real and familar cord. 

This is the first book in the Alvarez Murder Mystery series.  I cannot wait until March for the second , A Wedding to Die For.  Ms. Haven has found a  new fan.

To get your copy, visit Muse It Up Publishing.

Friday, February 4, 2011

So You Think You're Ready????

Through the kindness of one of my new Coffee Crew pals at CTR, Virg Nelson, I have permission to share what she posted to the loop this morning.  I like the way she thinks.
Hey, I wrote this today after reading this note on FB that listed things you should do before thinking about having kids.

It was all lessons for preschoolers so I wrote this.  Hope it gives you a giggle:
Some of you may have read the posting about having a child.  It lists things you should do before deciding... But all of them were for the preschool set.

As my darling children are all in the school ages now, one a full fledged teen and one almost a teen, I figured that people who make it through those lessons might (like most of us who make it through the preschool years) think they are prepared.  They may have the assumption that now that they have nailed working and coping with parental demands on zero sleep, that life will be simpler now that the child at least allows you to sleep.

I present these lessons before attempting parenting in your home...

Step One:
Drive to the nearest elementary school.  Head straight to the office.  Sit in an uncomfortable chair and think of all the reasons that you may have been called to the school.  Make sure none of the things you are thinking of are good and the more outrageous the better (bet you never thought you would get called to school because your child clucked like a chicken?  Was caught chewing toilet paper?  Didn't get in a fight but could have?  I have been called for all these reasons.  Be creative.)  Now hand your paycheck to the office.  Advise them that you will be back with the contents of the nearest Office Max.  The school will nod and smile.  They are used to it.  Then ask them to make you feel like you are the worst parent ever and how dare you have thought you were doing a good job parenting.  Once you have been thoroughly chastised, get in your car.

Step Two:
Go home and talk to a wall.  When the wall doesn't a. clean a room b. answer you about grades c. have an explanation as to why it thought it was a good idea to convince the baby that gummy worms and real worms are the same thing... continue to try to convince the wall to accomplish/answer a. b. and c.
You have now had a conversation with a child.

Step Three:
Get back in your car.  Drive in large circles.  Pause at museums, schools and random houses.  Get more gas while blasting a tape that repeats, "Are we there yet?  He is breathing on me again.  I'm hungry."
That's all.  Just do that.  Every spare moment you have.

Step Four:
Go back to the wall.  Give it three random directions. (Example: Take off your shoes.  Put them by the door.  Hang up your coat when you are done.)
Then ask the wall why it only finished one of the directions. 

Step Five:
Tape a high pitched shriek that shatters your ear drums and makes your eye twitch.  Then go back to the wall.  Talk to it.  Every time the wall would be expected to reply, play the shriek.  To really do this exercise well, you must never raise your voice or lose your patience.  Continue to talk to the wall.  Do this for an hour.  You have now discussed something with a teenage girl.

Step Six:
Assume you are wrong.  About everything.  All the time.  Because between the children, other parents that don't seem to be frayed around the edges and the aforementioned school... You will realize  that you are wrong.  Always.
Luckily, your kids have an answer for everything.  Everything.  And they will tell you.  At length.  Usually when they should be sleeping.

Step Seven: 
Once, every so often, fill a bucket with a mixture of rotten potatoes, spoiled milk and kool-aid.  Set your alarm for 2:30am.  Wake up.  Pitch the bucket at your couch or the carpet or even better dump it on you and your bed.  If you want realism, have someone else wake you by dumping the bucket, preferably after warming it, on you while you sleep.  Wake up.  Notice that the smell hits you first.  Instead of shrieking in panic and disgust at the mess, grab a pillow covered in vomit.  Cuddle it and clean it gently while murmuring soothing things.  Then give it a bucket and clean up the rest of the mess.  For more realism, have a back-up bucket and have someone dump it when you are almost done cleaning up the first.
You have now experienced projectile vomit.  And no... they rarely ever make it to the bathroom.

If you can do all of these steps, continue to smile and never yell at the wall or stinky pillow, you are ready to love an older child.
This is tongue in cheek fun, people.  Kids are totally worth it.  You will never laugh so hard or be so willing to conquer anything as you are when you are a parent.  Kids make you brave.  Kids make you learn what love is. 
But there is still the projectile vomit...

You can 'befriend' this witty woman on Facebook.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

So Little Time, So Much to Do

Funny how growing older changes ones outlook on things.  A few years ago, I was very lackadaisical in setting priorities and getting things done.  There was always tomorrow.  All of a sudden, I've become a senior citizen, and I wonder how many tomorrows I have left.  There is still so much I want to do...need to do, but I'm sure everyone feels that way.

In 2003, my best friend, Pat, died from Pancreatic Cancer.  She never smoked, didn't drink and took really good care of herself. But none of that mattered when the doctor delivered the diagnoses and gave her 6-9 months to live.  Watching her fade into a mere shadow of herself was more than I could stand. There was nothing I could say or do to make things easier, and often I felt that my being there and being healthy just didn't seem fair.  I didn't get to tell her goodbye because I didn't realize that tomorrow wasn't coming for her when I put off visiting one more day.  I miss her more than I can say. and I hope she knows how much she meant to me...still means to me because she's in my thoughts so often.

I've been giving a lot of thought to how much of my life I spend on the computer, blogging, emailing, promoting, etc..  This sedentary life is taking a toll so I really need to give some thought to what's important to me.  I've already resigned from book reviewing at, and I'm going to go no mail on most of the Yahoo loops that I only skim now.  I need to devote more time to my grandson, because if I have one goal before I leave this world, it's to see him kick Autism's butt! I really want to hang around as long as I can, if only for him.

I don't mean to sound maudlin, but turning sixty-five has really been much more depressing than I imagined it would be.  There's a difference between approaching a time when you'll be a card-carrying senior citizen and actually becoming one.  What happened to that thirty-five year old person I was just a few days ago? She's definitely not in the mirror anymore.  I've even forced myself to fill out a living will so no one will have to make decisions on my health care.  I don't plan on leaving anytime soon, but I've watched what my sons have gone through every time their dad wasn't expected to make it another day.  I never want to put them in the position of deciding whether or not to pull the plug.

I talked to my Mom today, and I really wanted to ask her if these kinds of thoughts occur to her.  Is she afraid of dying. Is her faith so unshaken that she doesn't question everything she's believed her entire life?  She just turned eighty-six in November and although I haven't seen her for a few years, she sounds full of energy and like the mom I remember when I was forty four and she was the age I am now.

I realize how depressing this blog is, but it's almost 3 A.M. and I'm fighting off a panic attack by sharing my innermost feelings with you.  So, I guess I'll try to go back to sleep and perhaps dream of something more cheerful.  I hope Heaven is all I picture it to be, and when my time comes, I'll find Pat waiting for me under the shade of a big tree where we can sit and catch up on old times. 

Now that I've totally depressed prepared are you? Do you think about how much time you have left?  A wise person once said, "treat everyday like it's your last because you never know when it might be."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Welcome L.J. Holmes...

Duck…Cupid’s eyes ain’t what they used to be!

As age creeps…creeps? More like ZOOMS up upon us, one of the first things we notice taking a hike, is our 20-20 eyesight. Mine decided to skitter on outta here while I was not paying much attention to my eyes at all. I mean I was back in college, a single mom, working three jobs, raising two kids, and trying to maintain a high enough GPA to keep the scholarships rolling in.

The wavy lines, haloes, and pixilated interruptions in my 20-20’s I put down to growing fatigue that would right itself just as soon as I put in more than two hours of sleep, crashed out on the living room floor where I landed as son as I’d shut the door of our apartment behind me. I mean wouldn’t you?

I worked my first job, trawling around the neighborhood, tossing, none-too-gracefully the morning papers upon your lawns so you could hide behind them at your breakfast tables. This means I was up and out by 4:00 A.M. From there I’d zoom down the interstate for one glorious…please car do not break down…hour, giving a humungous sigh of relief when I finally found a free parking lot in the student’s parking lot at my college. Why it is the nearest parking spot always seems like it is a good mile hike from class?

Studying when you are on the downward slope of thirty requires great attention and tenacity. In between classes, I tried to catch a “z” or two curled up in a most uncomfortable chair…why is it there are never any benches free when you need SLEEP? During my many years pounding the academic pavement, I searched high and low for a “quiet” spot to catch those ‘Z’s” in…Okay I see you want to laugh up a storm. Go ahead, feel free. You wouldn’t be laughing though if at some point you hadn’t tried to find that elusive quiet spot, so we are both dumber than academic dirt.

In between my 8:00 A.M. class that ends at 9:00 and my 1:00 class, I have to zip back up that interstate…please car stop guzzling oil like its water…so I can get to my second job…keeping the books and making deposits for an Auto-parts store. That took me from 11:00 am thru 3:00 PM when I downed a few Saltine crackers and headed back down that ribbon of concrete towards the college. When I arrived there, I had to call home and take a few to speak with my kids, find out how they were and promise them I’d help my daughter build her tar pit for school, and play target practice with my son and his paintball gun. (Yellow is really hard to wash out of your hair, so it’s a good thing I was already blonde.)

5:00 sitting smack dab in the front of the room, because I discovered I had to squint too much from the back, I began  taking notes on the rights and requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. We DID get a fifteen minute break at the halfway mark because three hours of sitting on hard benches makes just about everyone’s ass go numb…and for some reason you don’t’ learn as much on numb asses.

8:00, a quick rush to the library so you can sign out that book on Teaching Reading to the Handicapped you need for your term paper. 9:00 back on the road headed north. Okay car, now is SOOO not the time to give up the ghost. Get me safely home and I promise I will buy you 10/40 weight oil next time we go to Walmart.

11:30, for some reason there was a LOT of traffic on the road tonight, I get home, stagger up the steps, open the door, enter, close the door, and fall, like a tree cut down in its prime. I’m asleep before my face smooshes against the fortunately richly carpeted floor.

So is it any surprise I did not recognize the real reason I had to squint, saw haloes, or just suffered from an advanced case of eye fatigue. Name me any student who doesn’t believe that the lack of proper vision isn’t because the Sandman is not a frequent visitor.

So it came as a real shock the first time I was pressured by my children into seeing the eye-doctor.

Most people start out with single lenses. I’m no wuss. For me it was right to bifocals.

If you are not familiar with bifocals, let me correct that education deficiency. Bifocals are like wearing little telescopes with your nose as the bridge between them. Telescopes bring everything CLOSER. The bifocals make that hood ornament on your car that you use to guide you into staying properly in your own lane, closer, conning you into thinking the tank you are really driving is a VW Bug. I had to go out into the Country…way out in the Country, to learn how to drive again with bifocals. Mrs. Eastburn, I am really sorry I felled your prize yew tree. I didn’t realize I was that close to the roads edge…and well, your yew, it jumped out…I think it might have had a suicide by auto wish. IT probably needed therapy.

Many years have passed since Mrs. Eastburn’s favorite yew gasped its last sap. My eyes have gone through many changes, including surgery for cataracts, and laser surgery when the cataract surgery left me with a thick wall of scarring. I asked my eye doctor about contacts, and he had the nerve to laugh. At MY age, he chortled! Hell, I am only 59, I wanted to respond, but I remembered something I read somewhere…about old eyes not producing as much tears. I imagined contacts plastered against my eyeballs without tears to keep them comfortably floating.

Maybe the doc was right. At my age keeping foreign things outside my body is probably a good thing.

Now that I have made all your stomachs flop and you eyes bug, let me tell you why you need to have vision that is in tip-top shape…

I am L.J. Holmes and I have a slew of e-books coming out from Muse Publishing, Inc. in the magical year, 2011. Yeah, I KNOW we are already IN 2011, but my first 2011 book does not release until February 1st.

So lean back and let me regale with my February and March releases. No, I am not going to tell you about my May, June, August, September, November, or December releases this time. You’ll just have to wait till I visit with Miz Ging again.
February 1 brings you one of my all time favorite tales…a really short one called Forever With You. Coryne is a family court lawyer who has recently come into a lot of money. She inherited some lake front land in the mountains that she had planned on building her dream home on one day in the future…the future though has caught up with her, and except for some needed alterations, the time to build is now.

Keith Patterson owns Patterson Construction. Coryne takes one look at him and wants to run. Surely someone who looks like a god and is built like a sinner, cannot possibly build the house Coryne needs built and in the limited time frame she requires? Besides what he does to parts of her she had decided were dead, was sinful.

Her co-workers convince her that Patterson Construction is the best. Coryne hires him but also purchases a camping trailer so she can be on the spot overseeing the progress. Not the wisest of choices, she would come to admit, but she would not turn coward now. Each day Keith filters into more and more of her daydreams, and x-rated night fantasies. It’s hard enough to avoid your own wild dreams, but much harder when the object of those fantasies lets you know he’d be more than willing to trip the light-explosive with you.

Will Coryne be able to avoid giving in to Keith’s magnetism?

Forever With You comes out from Muse It Hot, the erotic wing of  Muse Publishing, Inc. on February 1st. You do not want to miss this book, nor do you want to miss the surprise ending. I promise it will stay with you long after you have read the last line.

On March 1st, The Pendulum Swings releases, also from the Muse It Hot Side.

Guess you can tell from the cover there will be some erotic belly dancing going on. But that’s not the half of it.

She wakes up in a room that has the weirdest things she’s ever seen. What is this thing she is lying on…a bed, but not like any bed she could remember sleeping on before? And why doesn’t her hand look familiar to her?

The door whooshes open and in walks a gorgeous man whose carefree expression turns into a blistering scowl when he realizes she’s awake.

He calls her “Joanna.” Why would he do that? She’s not a Joanna? But as she wrestles with her mind to bring up through its many layers her name she is panicked to discover she does not know who she is. How can that be?

She poses the question to the angry man. Her question makes his face morph into a horrible mask of dislike and distrust. The next word he throws at her makes her recoil even more. Amnesia. What or who is Amnesia?

Almost on the next heartbeat he tells her he’s her husband. This man who obviously hates me, owns me? Something inside her began quaking. Why would he take as his wife someone he obviously hates, and why can’t she wrap her mind and heart around the idea that she is the loathsome creature he obviously despises?

The Pendulum Swings releases from the Muse It Hot side of Muse Publishing, Inc. Join this poor woman as she seeks the answers to these questions and more. Meet the sexiest fireplace this side of Scheherazade, and the paneled door that takes prisoners.

I want to again thank Ginger for allowing me to come in and play in her toy chest.

I can be reached by e-mail at
I also have so many blogs I don’t know what to do, but I will give you the one where I do most of my own mouthing off…on a semi-regular basis, and the two I have for the cover blogs for Muse authors…if you don’t know what a cover blog is, Miz Ging has dubbed them Stationary Trailers and you can learn a lot more about ALL the authors and their upcoming releases.

First my…mouthing off blog.
Second is the blog I set up for the adult muse stories form the Muse It Up and Muse It Hot Side…
Finally the one I set up for our YA authors…

Romance Reviews

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