Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WIP Wednesday, plus some very cool Kindle Fire covers

Are you an author? Would you like to share a little bit about a current work in progress on a future WIP Wednesday? If so, please e-mail Erin O'Riordan (erinoriordan AT sbcglobal DOT net).

Today is the deadline for submitting to Vampyres: A History Written in Blood. I'll be submitting my Bessie Smith/George Gershwin vampire story, which I've decided to title "Rhapsody in Blood." Here's another short excerpt:

Bessie was glad to be inside, away from prying (blue) eyes that might accuse her and Rita of being where she had no business being. She was even happier when Rita pressed a tall glass of clear liquor into her hand. It was gin – not the shine was used to – but it would do in a pinch. It helped her make it through the round of how-do-you-dos she had to endure before her host would shut up and let her at the piano.

Taking steady sips of her drink, Bessie looked over at the piano. She didn’t recognize the white man on the bench, lazily vamping an up-tempo melody; he hadn’t introduced himself to her at the door. He had Benny’s slicked-back black hair – maybe a little longer, a few more curls tucked behind his ears. He didn’t have Benny’s milk-pale skin. He wasn’t Josephine Baker-brown like Rita, but he had a little color, like he’d just come back from vacation in Mexico. His cheeks blushed pink, and his eyes shone a vivid hazel.

The other white folks in the room, Benny included, were dressed to the nines, but not the piano player. His style was as laid-back as his piano playing, casual and flashy at the same time. The high shine of his black leather shoes said he had money, but his attitude said anything but stick-up-the-ass.

One glance at the piano player and she knew two things: he would be with her for the rest of her unnatural life, however long that would be, and he was, at the moment, slowly dying.



***

On a loosely related topic, there are some very cool sales happening now at MYHABIT. Today and tomorrow, you can still get a DODOcase for your Kindle Fire. These handmade covers, built to resemble an old-fashioned bound book, come in seven solid colors and a peacock pattern. This is the sky blue:


The other really cool thing at MYHABIT right now is the collection of wall art inspired by Andy Warhol and his unique pop art style. I've always loved Andy Warhol: his drawings of cats, that banana he designed for the Velvet Underground album cover (I have the boxed set with the peelable banana), his oft-parodied Marilyn Monroe image, his insane movies - even Lili Taylor in I Shot Andy Warhol. Warhol died when I was 9, but he remains a source of endless fascination and inspiration.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

March Rocks! (Welcome Blogelina Commenters!)

Welcome, repeat and new readers of Pagan Spirits alike! Today is the first day of the beautiful month of March, which always excites this Irish-American girl. This week, I'll be participating in the "Get 100 Blog Post Comments" event hosted by Blogelina.

The Pagan Spirits blogging schedule:

Are you a Pinterest pinhead? Stop by Pagan Spirits on Mondays for Blue Monday. I'll share some of the images from my "I've Got the Blues" board around a theme.

Are you an author? Would you like to share about a work in progress? Stop by Pagan Spirits on WIP Wednesday! I'd love to have some new WIP Wednesday guest authors, and you can read about what I'm writing.

St Patricks Day Pictures, Comments, Graphics, Cards
St Patricks Day Images - Photobucket


Speaking of guest authors, on March 13th I'll be welcoming PM Terrell. She'll be talking about her book Vickie's Key and some real-life psychic warriors.

My guest on the 20th will be Diva Jefferson, with an excerpt from her historical romance novel, To Love an Irishman.

On March 24th, my guest author will be Julianne Snow, who writes zombie horror fiction.

Do you ever need a chance to dump your thoughts out onto the page? If so, you'll want to stop by Pagan Spirits on Sunday. I hook up with the blog hop hosted by AllThingsFadra for Stream of Consciousness Sunday. Fadra provides the prompt - all you have to do is free write for 5 minutes and link up.

This SOC Sunday post is about Whitney Houston's passing, and how tough it is to love somebody with a drug problem.

St Patricks Day Pictures, Comments, Graphics, Cards
St Patricks Day Images - Photobucket


...and, in case you couldn't tell, I get excited about St. Patrick's Day!

But La Fhéile Pádraig is not the only celebration in March. We'll also be looking forward to the first day of spring. Thursday, March 8th is International Women's Day, and the entire month of March is Women's History Month!

Are there any Twilight fans in the house? (You probably guessed I was a Twilight fan by my Breaking Dawn Pt. 2 countdown widget.) Then you may be gearing up to celebrate St. Marcus Day on the 19th - don't forget to wear your red!

Have you ever wondered how much of St. Marcus Day was fact, and what was fiction? Read this post.

St Patricks Day Pictures, Comments, Graphics, Cards
St Patricks Day Images - Photobucket


Thanks for visiting my blog! I hope you had a great time here - come back any time!

St Patricks Day Pictures, Comments, Graphics, Cards
St Patricks Day Images - Photobucket

Excerpt from "Little Red Riding Wolf" by Jessica Aspen

Thanks for having me as your guest on your blog again, Erin. Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my debut novella, Little Red Riding Wolf. Little Red is a spicy twisted paranormal novella where Red is a werewolf and the stranger in her woods is a human forest ranger named Evan. When Red decides to rebel by seducing Evan it all turns topsey turvey as she not only falls in love but realizes Evan holds the knowledge to expose her pack to discovery.

The following excerpt is take from chapter one. The two have just met for the first time. Red is on her way to check on her grandma and Evan discovers the sexy red head crossing his territory.

Please enjoy the following excerpt from Little Red Riding Wolf:



Evan.

She rolled his name through her mind, resisted the desire to taste the flavor of it on her tongue. Maybe if she wasn’t touching him she could do this…carry on a normal conversation. She struggled for something to say, something that would cover this incredible desire to fuck a complete stranger.

“Welcome to Radon,” she managed to get out. “How do you like it so far?” Inane. Moronic. But it was out now. She hoped he couldn’t see the shaking that had started at his touch, or smell the moisture between her legs. Lucky he was only human.

Calm down, Red! You can do this. You have to do this.

“It’s been interesting. It’s a pretty tight-knit little town.” His smile had warmed, become friendly. And interested.

She knew what that appraising look meant. She’d received it from all the available males her parents had invited to their house in an effort to entice her to settle down. But that look
from the bachelor wolves had never made her feel like this. Feel like her whole body was tuned in to his. Like she should get on all fours and push her ass in the air, spread her legs, and beg.

Her palms were damp. She caught him checking her out and was glad her hoodie was zipped up tight and covered her chest.

Her nipples had tightened so fast, so hard, they almost hurt.

“Town’s been a little tough on you, huh?” she asked. Poor guy, he couldn’t have known what coming to this area would be like. They hadn’t had a ranger in the area who wasn’t pack in her lifetime. The county was up in arms.

“You could say that.” He shot her a conspiratorial smile that warmed his eyes to molten chocolate. She had a sudden vivid picture of a sheepskin rug and him lying naked in front of a
fire, her lips and tongue tracing the contoured lines of muscles illuminated by the flames.

She dragged her mind back and forced it to focus on the present. Focus on the words coming out from between his sexy lips.

“You’re the friendliest person I’ve run into in this town. Where have you been hiding?”

Wrong question ranger. The question was who had been hiding him from her? Now her mother keeping her home from work to make jam had begun to make sense. Maybe her mother would never think she was an adult. Although maybe her mother was right, given her lusty thoughts, maybe she should
be sequestered.

“I normally work at the general store in town. I must have just missed you.” Yeah right. Did that sound as lame to him as it had to her? She lifted her chin. Her mother had been making up
excuses to keep her at the family’s house all week. Despite being sent off to the boonies she had met the hot new guy in town.

Her mother’s plan had backfired.

“Is that Burdock’s? It’s the only general store I’ve seen.” One long hand reached up, pushed his thatch of hair back off his face in an unconscious slow sensual movement. The hair fell forward back into place as soon as he released it, dark and thick.

“Yeah, I guess you’ve been in there.”

“Yeah. Is the black haired dude with the bad-ass attitude who mans the counter related?” His eyes crinkled up at the corners when he smiled. An urge to spread her thighs slid through her.
In an effort to control it, she clenched them tight.

What had he asked?

“Seth,” she said, relieved she knew what to say. “He’s one of my brothers. He’s none too happy that you’re here.”

“Why is that?”

“Let’s just say that we’re a typical small town. Outsiders aren’t really welcome.”

“You know, you’re the first woman I’ve met under thirty all week. I was beginning to wonder where they all were.”

Dangerous territory here. She’d better be careful of what she said. Obviously the alphas had the few available females under lock and key.

“We have a surplus of men in this town. You probably just missed the women.”

She shouldn’t be talking to him. He made her so nervous, she just knew she would slip and let something out. Something that would alert him that all was not as it seemed in small town Radon, Colorado.

“Well it’s been nice chatting, but I have to get going.”

She smiled and started to move off down the path again, but he stepped in front of her, blocked her. The back of her neck prickled.

She supposed he was eager to talk to the only friendly face in town, but she wished he would back off. She was having enough trouble controlling herself as it was. Her heightened senses told her to take action. Now.

He’d moved too close. His spicy male scent filled her nostrils, caressed her skin. Made her want to bury her face in the crook of his neck and inhale, suck him in like oxygen before going
underwater.

“Where are you off to?”

“My grandmother lives up the mountain. I’m just going to check on her and stay a while.”

His face lost its easy smile, grew concerned. “You’re hiking up the mountain by yourself? A woman like you shouldn’t be out here alone.”

She bristled at his statement. Just like her brother! What was it with men and their bossy attitudes?

“A woman like me? Slow down buster! I’ve been hiking this mountain since I could walk. You’re out here alone, why not me?”

“But I’m a trained outdoorsman. You hardly look prepared in those shorts if the weather changes. What do you have in that pack?” He moved closer to her, and she backed up, suppressing the desire to bare her teeth. With relief she channeled her newfound sexuality into anger instead. This she understood.

Human or not, he was beginning to get her back up, just like any other male.

“I’ll be at Grandma’s before dark. And it’s an incredible day. No storm in sight. See ya.” She edged around him and moved back onto the path, determined to put him and temptation, behind her.

“Wait, I’ll go with you. There are signs of hunters in the area, you shouldn’t be hiking alone.”

He picked up his oversize pack with ease. Then scrambled, trying to buckle the waist straps and
keep up with her at the same time. She stepped up the pace. She could feel him close behind, knew he was eye level with her ass. Knew he watched her backside swish with each step.

Her tingling nerves began to send messages again. With him nipping at her ankles, she felt like prey.

“No, thanks. You won’t be able to keep up.” She moved faster, pumped her legs in a rapid rhythm on the familiar trail.

His legs might be longer than hers, but she had Were stamina and a light pack. No way he could keep up with her for long.

“Hey, I’ve been through hell in the military. If I could keep up in basic, then I can keep up with you little girl.”

She laughed, flashed a catch-ya-later look over her shoulder, and put on a hair more speed. He’d find out soon enough that she might be little, but she had more oomph in this little package than most. And he could just watch her swish her tail until she was out of sight.




Bio: Jessica Aspen writes paranormal romance near the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. Her books are full of elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. She loves dark chocolate, walking the dog, hiking and is obsessed with her new lap-top. Jessica is also obsessed with writing and learning about writing. She is a member of RWA, CRW, FF&P and PRO. You can find Jessica the first Friday of the month at http://ParanormalFreebies.com and most days during the week at http://jessicaaspen.com




Follow Jessica on twitter @jessicaaspen and on Facebook.com/Jessica.Aspen and don’t forget to enter her contest HERE to win free copies of Little Red Riding Wolf, chocolate and more!

Come into the woods with Little Red Riding Wolf, Jessica Aspen’s spicy paranormal novella available now from Passion in Print Press. What if Little Red Riding Hood was a werewolf and a sexy forest ranger wandered into her woods?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blue Monday #2 - Monumental

If I was in Paris, I would say ooh la la la la la la la...



This gorgeous winter scene is in Chicago, at the Historic Water Tower.



Blue Monday brings you some of the highlights of my Pinterest board I've Got the Blues.

A fascinating article about Pinterest sexism among mostly-male tech bloggers appeared at Clever Girls Collective on Valentine's Day. Apparently, some bloggers think that "used mostly by women" is some kind of red flag, even though THE INTERNET IS MOSTLY USED BY WOMEN.

Lest you think that this is an isolated incident of media sexism, check out The HTML5 Gendered Advertising Remixer. Don't think that in this day and age, play is branded differently for little boys and little girls? Use this fun and educational tool to watch boy toys ads with girl toy voiceovers, and voice versa, then watch the absurdity (or ad-surdity, as it were) ensue.

Part of a larger trend? Sadly, yes, as Sifat Azad demonstrates in "Are Women in the Media Only Portrayed as Sex Icons? Statistics Show a Massive Gender Imbalance Across Industries." Hey, there's nothing wrong with being a sex icon when you're trying to get laid, but it's a bit beside the point when you're trying to report the news, review a book, or direct a film. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review ~ The Gospel According to Twilight by Elaine Heath

The Gospel According to Twilight: Women, Sex, and GodThe Gospel According to Twilight: Women, Sex, and God by Elaine A. Heath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Is this a good book, worth taking the time to read and ponder? Yes, it is. Maybe I think that because I'm a Twilight fan (not a diehard one, perhaps, but a pretty big one) and, to me, most thoughtfully-created works of literature centered on the series would seem worth the read. Maybe I think that because I was raised as a feminist and a Catholic, and Heath's non-patriarchal approach to the "Gospel" aspect of her investigation is one I find familiar and comfortable.

A quote sometimes attributed to Stephen King re: Stephenie Meyer's series is, "Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend." While the quote may be apocryphal, I have noticed that the Twilight series is criticized for its overemphasis on romantic relationships. Before I read Heath's book, though, I had not made the connection between the apparent fear of being single in Meyer's series and Meyer's Mormon belief system. That connection makes sense to me.

I'm also glad that Heath addresses another common criticism of Twilight: that the female characters are weak and unfeminist, while the male characters - Edward particularly - exhibit behavior that, in a nonfictional boyfriend, would be red flags for abuse. Even those of us who continue to love the book and movie series should ponder/discuss/address these aspects of the novel. I agree with Heath when she suggests we don't want young girls to mistakenly pick up the message that abusive behavior in relationships is acceptable.


Not being a particularly orthodox member of any religious group myself, I don't have any specific criticisms of the way in which Heath addresses the Gospel aspect. She's an ordained minister and an associate professor of evangelism in the Methodist church, so I assume many American Protestants will accept her credentials and understand her point of view. When I finished the Twilight series, I picked up on the fact that Bella's transformation was a akin to the transformation of the Pevensie children in the Chronicles of Narnia, with Edward in this case standing in for Aslan (standing in for Jesus). Heath takes the metaphor a step further, showing how Edward, Bella and Carlisle are all aspects of a Christ figure. Bella even rises from the dead after three days.

Based on some of the other Goodreads reviews, some of the criticisms of this book have been, "Heath thought too hard about a series that is, essentially, an extended romance novel with vampires and werewolves." If you fear that the author may analyze too deeply, then no, this is not the book for you.

But if you're willing to put some deep thought into how Christianity and Twilight co-exist - perhaps as part of a book club - then you've come to the right paperback.



View all my reviews

This is an affiliate link:

Understanding the Prophetic Times We Live In by ASR Martins. $10.26 from Smashwords.com
This book is about the end-times. The aim of this book is to bring clarity and to counter confusion in the lives of many Christians regarding the end-times, especially regarding the prophetic time we live in at this moment. Clarity will equip and enable God’s children to follow His vision for, and in this time period we are living in right now.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

REVIEW: SOLARIS by guest blogger Jordan Siron

Solaris began its life as a science fiction novel written by Polish author Stanislaw Lem. After garnering a substantial amount of praise from readers and critics alike, in 1972 Lem’s novel was adapted for the silver screen by director Andry Tarkovskiy. While it stuck very closely to the novel (Lem, himself, said it was the best adaptation possible), and is considered by many to be a classic, I have always had my nits to pick. I don’t know if it’s the pacing or the score – or both – but I have always failed to connect with the film. Luckily for me, exactly 30 years later, Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney joined forces to make an updated version. In my eyes, we’re all the better for it.




The Basics

For those who are unfamiliar with both the book and the adaptation, Solaris is the story of Dr. Chris Kelvin (George Clooney), a brilliant psychiatrist who ironically spends his days silently grieving over the death of his wife, Rehya (Natascha McElhone). One evening while Chris is preparing dinner for himself, two government agents enter his home and deliver a pre-recorded message from his colleague, Dr. Ghibarian (Ulrich Tukur). Ghibarian, it turns out, was on board a small spaceship researching an unidentified mass in space called Solaris – neither planet nor sentient being.




As the message goes on, we learn that something has gone wrong and that each member of the crew has been driven to isolation in order to avoid strange hallucinations. Convinced the visions and Solaris are not connected, Kelvin is sent to the research vessel in order to diagnose the members of the crew. What he discovers is something that cannot be diagnosed, understood, or classified. When Kelvin begins having hallucinations of his dead wife, it becomes clear that Solaris is a force all its own – of good or of evil, however, may never be known.

Review and Analysis

Solaris, much like the book and adaptation before it, is a remarkably subtle film. Apart from that, it is a very refreshing entry in a genre that has been convinced by box office sales that it solely exists to show heroes with laser guns taking down alien hordes. Solaris was, in my opinion, the film that brought dignity back to the American made science fiction films. In fact, so much of the film’s look and tone can be seen in later genre gems such as Children of Men and Moon. Soderbergh truly made the most out of the opportunity, and it shows in every frame and in every line of dialogue.

The cast includes Clooney and McElhone, primarily, but is supported by the characters of Dr. Gordon (Viola Davis) and Snow (played by a wonderfully anxious Jeremy Davies). Gordon and Snow are the only two members of the crew left on board the ship, and, while we do not know exactly how much time has passed since the visions began, Davis and Davies play their parts believably – one suspicious and overly cautious, and the other unsettlingly unaffected. While Gordon and Snow do not get as much screen time as Kelvin and Rheya, the moments they are on screen are absolutely delightful to watch.


As mentioned above, the film possesses a subtlety that adds to the tension in each scene in ways that would not be possible otherwise. The lack of a score throughout most of the scenes taking place on the spaceship is almost hypnotic, and really demonstrates how silence can often be musical in its own way. When there is a score it is both moving yet subtle, and without a doubt some of the best music paired with any film to date.

As for the cinematography, there are no words in any language to give Steven Soderbergh’s own work the praise it deserves. Perhaps some of the most beautiful shots in the entire film are the flashbacks of Kelvin’s time with Rheya before her death. The top and bottom of the frame feature a gradual fade that makes the action taking place in the center seem as though it is somewhat clouded, as if any moment it may return to the miasma of Kelvin’s repressed memories. Much like the images in Woody Allen’s Manhattan, every shot composition could stand as a work of art in its own right.

Alas, all of the hard work and craftsmanship would be for not without a story to which the audience could cling. To the credit of both Stanislaw Lem and Steven Soderbergh, Solaris is exactly that such story. Watching Kelvin struggle with the repeated loss of each iteration of Rheya tugs mercilessly at the heart strings, and we share his sense of hopelessness when he comes to the realization that he will never get to live the life he so loved before tragedy set down upon him.

Great drama aside, the theme that lies at the heart of the film is what truly drives each and every scene. Lem always maintained that the book was meant to teach one of the most difficult life lessons we all must learn: Communication – real and honest, and unfaltering – is impossible, even between two members of the same species, let alone a force that cannot be understood on the most superficial level.




It doesn’t matter if Solaris is a planet, a sentient being, or (as one theory proposes) God itself. Everything that can be said by either party will be misconstrued; heard, but not comprehended. Good science fiction entertains, while great science fiction reminds us of issues in our day-to-day lives that will worsen if left unchecked. Solaris is in a whole other echelon, and surpasses definition.

I suspect Lem would find that rather fitting.

Jordan Siron is a freelance writer/blogger living in Orlando. 


Friday, February 24, 2012

An excerpt from “Hidden Wheel” By Michael T. Fournier

From the Press Release: “Hidden Wheel”: Profiting from a system designed to fail.

A new novel by author/rock critic Michael T. Fournier uses the indie art and music scenes as the backdrop for a hard look at the current banking crisis.

Amherst, MA-- 11/21/2011—In Michael T. Fournier’s debut novel “Hidden Wheel, ”an opportunistic trustfunder named Ben Wilfork starts an all-ages art/music space in the Midwestern town of Freedom Springs, intent on profiting on the artists and musicians he promotes, no matter the cost.

Max Caughin, who writes graffiti under the name Faze, gets famous quick with a series of paintings on CD covers. His buddy Bernie Reese donates sperm to raise money for a new drum kit so his two-piece noiserock band Stonecipher can record. Bernie's romantic interest (and former chess prodigy) Rhonda Barrett does dominatrix work by day and paints her life, sixty words at a time, on giant canvases by night to help stave off the Singularity. Their fates intertwine in a story reconstructed by William Molyneux, a 24th Century scholar reconstructing the Hidden Wheel scene after a solar flare erases all digital data in his era.

Hidden Wheel, Michael T. Fournier's debut novel, is an unflinching reflection of the growing complexities of navigating art, commerce, and the internet. Its use of intersecting plotlines illustrates the confusion and potential of the early 21st century and the evolving ways in which its inhabitants try to make a mark in the specter of financial upheaval and shifting technologies. Author Selah Saterstrom says “Don’t be surprised if, upon finishing this book, you remember – and long for – an art, writing, and music you have never even encountered.”

Hidden Wheel is published by New York City’s Three Rooms Press, whose upcoming releases include Mike Watt’s “On And Off Bass.” It is available on all major online retailers and at select stores throughout the U.S. Hidden Wheel retails for $15.




An excerpt from “Hidden Wheel”
By Michael T. Fournier
Michaeltfournier.tumblr.com
Twitter: xfournierx

(Interview with Lara Fox-Turner: “My ArtScene Life.” Time magazine/pulsestream, April 7, 2041. Used with permission.)

Time: What will you do when you retire?

Lara Fox-Turner: I’ll be doing a lot of the same things I have always done: attend art shows, openings, rock shows.

T: Rock shows?

L F-T: Forever young. (laughter) And I’ll have more time to read books. Much more time to spoil my grandchildren rotten.

T: ArtScene started off as a sixteen-page magazine. Did you ever have any inkling that you’d be so successful?

L F-T: The original concept – to travel to different cities, and document their art and music scenes – seemed the best job in the world. When I got the magazine running, with the help of my investors, we traveled and documented art that we loved and thought important. To us, that was success. Everything else was extra. I have been blessed to make a living this way.

T: What would you consider your proudest moment?

L F-T: I’m certainly proud of the way pulsestream technology has revolutionized periodicals and books. To have the chance to work on an efficient, environmentally conscious method of information delivery which has helped alleviate problems of pollution and deforestation is my proudest accomplishment.

My proudest moment, in terms of the magazine, isn’t a moment per se, but a discovery. My dear friend Benjamin Wilfork’s art opening in Freedom Springs was so memorable. It was the first time I met Rhonda Barrett, and the first time I saw Festival of Hamburgers play.

T: That opening is referred to now in the same way as legendary. Did it seem that way at the time?

L F-T: It was exciting. The Freedom Springs scene was vibrant, if only for a small period of time. Everyone who attended the show was happy there was something happening in their town – prior to Hidden Wheel’s inception, there was nowhere to display art, and shows were limited to bars.

T: What was it about Freedom Springs that made the art so interesting?

L F-T: I think that Freedom Springs was far enough away from established art and music scenes so that it developed in its own way, and at its own pace. The art and music from that gallery has been influential since, and that was due in part to ArtScene’s documentation of the happenings there.

T: Certainly, Rhonda Barrett has been an outspoken advocate of the arts. Her recent contributions have been impressive. And Festival of Hamburgers’ anniversary show at Knebworth was watched by millions worldwide.




L F-T: I’d be lying if I said I had any inkling of how important that evening was. I didn’t. I simply thought I’d be covering a small scene, like we did in so many other cities and towns over the years. Rhonda’s contributions to the art world have been a revelation. Her steadfast adherence to a set of values is unprecedented.

T: What were your first impressions of her?

L F-T: That she was brilliant. (laughter) But not for her painting. I confess that her anti-conglomerate stance seemed like a sophisticated shtick to me, one designed solely to attract the press. My impression was that she was grooming herself to be a famous painter who didn’t paint. Over the years, I have come to realize, of course, that there is no schtick involved. She is deeply concerned about the human condition.

T: There were several lesser-known artists there that evening, as well. What happened to them?

L F-T: I’ve lost track of the members of Coxswain, except for Maddie, who played in many bands over the years. She was later in Edison’s Campaign, who did very well.

The other artist that day, Max Caughin, was at the forefront of a small art movement called urban mosaicism. He became famous, then obscure just as quickly. Very little of his work still exists.

T: Why is that?

L F-T: The synthetic paint he used was pulled off the market not long after that show. It begins to disintegrate after about five years. It’s tragic that his artwork no longer exists, and it’s tragic what happened to him.

The band that I thought most interesting that night was Stonecipher. Bernie Reese is largely known as Rhonda Barrett’s onetime lover. People forget that he was an innovative drummer. He is an experimental composer, constructing entire symphonies out of percussion. He is also a foster father. The bass player in the band, Amy Czjdeki, is still in Freedom Springs, managing a restaurant.




***

Michael Fournier's biography: Michael T. Fournier’s debut novel, “Hidden Wheel,” uses his punk rock background to reflect on the financial crisis, forced obsolescence, and nature of criticism. The nice folks at Three Rooms Press, based in New York City, have just released this debut. He will tour the United States extensively in support of “Hidden Wheel” in 2011 and beyond.

Fournier is also the author of a book-length discussion of the Minutemen’s 1984 album “Double Nickels On The Dime,” the 45th installment of Continuum Press’s “33 1/3” series. He booked multiple do-it-yourself tours to promote the book upon its 2007 release and read in bookstores, clubs, and galleries in Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Concord NH, Easthampton MA, New York City, Olympia WA, Philadelphia, Portland ME, Seattle, San Francisco, and Worcester MA. He’s shared stages with Richard Hell, Duncan Wilder Johnson, Zeth Lundy, Amanda Petrusich, Mike Watt and countless bands.




His music criticism has appeared in Boston Magazine, Vice, the Oxford American, the Boston Phoenix, Pitchfork, and Chunklet. He is a weekly reviewer at 365 Albums A Year (www.365aay.com). His fiction has appeared in Barrelhouse, Fluke, Pennsylvania English, Stolen Island Review and Talking River.

His History of Punk Rock class at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts boasted visits from such scene luminaries as Steve Brodsky and Adam McGrath (Cave In), Clint Conley (Mission of Burma), Ian MacKaye (Dischord Records/Fugazi), and Shred (WBCN-FM).

He lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife Rebecca and their cat.

Musician Photo: liftarn, Creative Commons license

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Becoming Someone New" by Nan Andrews

First, I have a confession to make. I don't usually like to go to Las Vegas. I know, how can that be? Isn't Las Vegas one of the most exciting, wonderful places on the planet?


Well, you see, I don't like to gamble, so I'm not sure what to do in all those casinos. When I'm there, I feel vaguely uncomfortable, like my wallet has a hole nibbled in it and the cash is draining out as I walk down the street. Or that someone is going to stop and ask me directions and I don't know where anything is. I don't seem to have the right clothes to wear and it's hard to get my bearings. Everything seems larger than life, from the performances to the food, the bright lights and the scale of the hotels. It's all so much more dramatic than my regular life.

But one thing that Sin City is perfect for, actually, is becoming someone new. If I leave my usual self at home, I can enjoy everything that Las Vegas has to offer. I found this out in September, when I went to the first ever Erotic Author's Association convention and spent four days being my alter ego, Nan.

I write erotica under a pen name and at home, it's only a small part of my regular life. However, when I went to Las Vegas, I became Nan full time. It was a liberating experience. I even learned some things about my alter ego: Nan still doesn't gamble, but she likes to watch her friends do it. She didn't drink too much, or dance on any bars, but she did go see some adult entertainment and enjoyed talking about adult things with other erotica writers for several days.

At home, I don't vacuum the house in a bustier and high heels, but they were the perfect attire for attending a reading of erotica at the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas. Being Nan that night, I got to stare at a pair of exquisite ankles in impossibly high heels with delightful ribbons and imagine all sorts of inappropriate stories they might inspire.



As Nan, the next day, I watched the belly dancers dressing for their demonstrations down the hall and imagined steamy desert nights where the dance of veils clouded many men's vision. Nan got to talk to people who know about the proper way to handcuff someone, or tie them up and flog them. She got to imagine the secret life of anyone who comes to Las Vegas and lets their hair down. She let her own hair down for a few days and it was wonderful. I brought more of Nan back with me and she has made my regular life brighter, too.

We can all share some of what Vegas has to offer. “Voyeur Eyes Only” is full of tales of what can happen in Las Vegas. The lights are bright and the windows are dark, perfect for gazing in. In my story, “Dancing Waters,” a habitual watcher finds a willing partner for his pleasure. He gets to direct her performance from a distance, until the performance overwhelms them both with a life of its own.

I hope you'll enjoy this and all the rest by a fine group of authors, including Laura Antoniou, Nik Havert, Jade Melisande, Courtney Breazile, and Cecilia Tan. Available as an audio book, as well as an e-book, with proceeds to benefit the EAA Writers Conference.



*****

An erotic collection of shorts stories by best-selling authors with a central theme of voyeurism in Las Vegas.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? Not anymore…

High above the Las Vegas strip, at the top of Skylane Tower, the rooms come with one special amenity; a high powered telescope. When a group of erotica writers descend on Sin City for their annual conference, the voyeurs witness first hand, that some authors live by the adage, ‘write what you know’.

A woman’s curiosity is piqued as she observes a beautiful stranger being bound in silky red rope. A man scouting for new sex slaves, watches as an elegant woman gets more than her hands dirty. A prostitute pulls a switch - sending her lover out on a call. A simple slip of the hand, causes a case of mistaken room identity and a linen closet at a nearby hotel, sees more action than all of them combined. And that is just the beginning…

They say perception is reality. Is what the Voyeur sees through their spyglass just a fantasy; on which side of the lens would you like to be?

The "Voyeur Eyes Only" tour is hitting fourteen websites over fourteen days - check this link to see where and when the other posts are: http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/voyeur-eyes-only/

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

*****

Nan Andrews' stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Mammoth Book of the Kama Sutra; Where the Girls Are: Urban Lesbian Erotica, and CREAM: The Best of the ERWA. She is a member of the Erotic Authors Association as well as ERWA, and lives in Northern California.




Belly dancer image: Jhayne from Vancouver, Canada; Creative Commons license. "Welcome to Vegas" sign is in the public domain.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WIP Wednesday, Short But Sweet

I haven't been feeling well since Monday afternoon, so I'll keep this week's WIP Wednesday short and sweet.

Are you an author with a current work in progress? Share about it with us on a future WIP Wednesday. Send an e-mail to erinoriordan AT sbcglobal DOT net.

This week I'll be doing some pre-edits to my short story "Sheep Shifter." I also have one week to finish my Bessie Smith vampire short story - I hope I'm feeling well enough to work on it soon.

Meanwhile, today and tomorrow, you can save 20% at Lulu.com with the checkout code SWEET306. This means you can save on:

The Smell of Gas paperback

The Smell of Gas e-book

Hearts of Tomorrow paperback - contains my short story "Melusine's Secret"

Hearts of Tomorrow e-book

Oh! And "The Spell You Cast" got its first review on Smashwords. Laura Cooper writes:

"Loved the storyline which captured my attention right from the start. Well written and just the right amount of spice and detail to not only make it believable, but to make me consider sharing my man. Well worth the read!"

If you would like to review the 18-page erotica e-book "The Spell You Cast," send me a message and I'll send you a code for the free e-book. BUT you have to write me a review on Smashwords.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guest Post: Inksnatcher's Review of The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney

A sigh of satisfaction escaped my lips as I finally put this book down. With a plot as meandering as an Irish country road, The Last Storyteller, this final book in the Venetia Kelly trilogy, is a deeply satiating read. From the first page Delaney pulls you into the old Ireland — the humor, the poetry of the vernacular, the poverty, the ability to always pull through and laugh at everyone.

This book goes deeper into Ben’s personal struggles, and throughout the book he examines and questions his actions over the years. We follow him around the Irish countryside and meet those closest to him — those he has allowed to come close — and get to know them better. We also find out what happens when he meets Venetia again and how that emotional mess of a love story ends.

As in the other books, fiction lives within fiction, almost like a dream within a dream, and we are fortunate enough to hear some of the secrets of the seanchaí, the Irish storyteller. The reader is caught up in the mystical, mythical quality of the legends as they are told, and then wonders how the story of Ben will play out if/when told by the seanchaí.


Delaney’s writing, yet again, reaches deep into the soul and he produces words from his mind that allow the story to dance and sing and mourn and weep. I wanted to stop and highlight some of his words, but didn’t want to stop reading — “I was shivering like a wet child,” “the long, quiet lane ended at his house,” and “and still came the rain, so heavy that I could have sucked it off the windshield” — just wonderful heart-warming writing that makes a hungry reader happy. If you have to choose between buying this and your next meal, buy this — it’s more of a meal and far more filling.

Originally published at Inksnatcher.com

About the Reviewer, Sally Hanan: Business woman, strategist, counselor, writer, seeker, thinker, facilitator, mediator, bossypants, housework avoider, busybody, mother, wife, Jesus lover.

The Pagan Spirits review of Sally's Joy in a Box is HERE.

http://sallyhanan.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sally-hanan/10/b8/9b1
www.facebook.com/Inksnatcher?sk=info

ink–noun a fluid or viscous substance used for writing or printing
snatch–verb (used without object) to make a sudden effort to seize something, as with the hand; grab (usually fol. by at)

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Writing the Mysterious: Notes on the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Bill Johnson

It's a convention in mystery writing to 'start with a body.' Starting with a body sets up some immediate questions: who is the victim? Who killed him or her? Why? What makes the case compelling to the character seeking to solve the murder, and, by extension, to the story's readers?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo takes a different tack. Here's there's no body, just a mystery around what happened to a missing girl. It is the mystery of the situation that creates the initial hook to draw in readers. In this essay, I'll set out how that quality of mysteriousness is created.



First sentence, It happened every year, was almost a ritual.

The question here, what happened? What made it like a ritual?

Second sentence, And this was his eighty-second birthday.

This tells us something about who is involved in what's happening.

Third sentence, When, as usual, the flower was delivered, he took off the wrapping paper and then picked up a telephone to call Detective Superintendent Morrel who, when he retired, had moved to Lake Siljan in Dalarna.

That the character here calls a detective about the delivery tells us something unusual and possibly criminal in involved; it also begins to set out a place for the story. It's important to understand the difference in withholding information for dramatic effect (like the meaning of the ritual) and withholding information that gives a reader a sense of time and place. Time and place can be withheld as part of creating mystery, but if not done correctly, it can also create irritation and a sense of an author confused about the craft of telling a story.

Fourth sentence, They were not only the same age, they had been born on the same day—which was something of an irony under the circumstances.

Why this is an irony is another mysterious question.

Last sentence of paragraph, The old policeman was sitting with his coffee, waiting, expecting the call.


So, the delivery of the flower happens every year on the old man's birthday, and it involves information that he immediately relays to a detective. Yes, this is mysterious, but there's a concrete quality to the information. It's a great hook and creates the necessary effect of a first paragraph: the reader is pulled forward to read a second paragraph.

The old man and the detective have a conversation about the flower, but the upshot is that it revolves around a mystery that 'which no-one else in the whole world had the least interest in unraveling.

This raises the question, so why is the mystery so compelling to these two men? What is the mystery?

Also, characters in novel must exist in a state of narrative tension to sustain the drama in a novel. Here, we're introduced to the tension these characters feel about this situation of the annual delivery of a picture of a flower, ahead of more mundane details about what they look like. Without narrative tension, a novel manuscript is simply a collection of details that turn in to an impassable swamp.

After a line break, the novel continues with a description of the flower, that it is native to the Australian bush. This is foreshadowing. It seems like an unimportant note here, but, understood in the correct context, it would solve the mystery of the flower and its delivery to the old man. But he doesn't know that, and we don't know that, but the author does. And he plants this clue here knowing exactly what it means.

The question here for the old man is, could the flower by grown in Sweden? That gives us a place for this story. The last line of this section, It needed pampering, is also suggestive in a way that won't be clear for hundreds of pages.

The novel continues with the old man pondering, again, that there was no way to trace where the flower print came from (since they arrive every year on his birthday from all over the world). Again, we are in the realm of the mysterious here.

Continuing, The strange story of the flowers had never been reported in the press; only a very few people knew of it. Thirty years ago the regular arrival of the flower was the object of much scrutiny—at the National Forensic Laboratory, among fingerprint experts, graphologists, criminal investigators, one or two relatives and friends of the recipient.

Without directly saying what this is about, the scale of the investigation of where the flowers are coming from heightens the dramatic impact of its arrival this day. This was once part of a major investigation.

Now, it's of importance only to the old man, the old detective, and, presumable, the person sending the prints of these rare flowers.

It's revealed the detective has arrested dozens of violent men and murderers, but only the details of this case have remained an obsession that haunts him (and the other old man). This again heightens the mysteriousness of what's happening, without saying exactly what it is.

In the last two paragraphs of the prologue, the old man looks up at the wall covered with framed, rare flowers that he has contemplated for 44 years, one for each year.

The last line of the prologue, Without warning he began to weep. He surprised himself with this sudden burst of emotion after almost forty years.

That's the conclusion of the prologue. We still don't know what this is all about, what is at the heart of this mysterious event. But we've been told enough that we're being drawn forward to want to know more.


There are answers to questions here, but not the deeper answer: what set this mystery in motion?

To begin to get that answer, we have to turn to the first chapter of the novel.

What Stieg Larsson demonstrates here is a consummate ability to know what to reveal and withhold to draw readers in. The focus here is the narrative tension these two men share over this unsolved mystery.

Hooking a reader on a character's narrative tension is what makes a novel compelling, whether it starts 'with a body' or a character haunted by not knowing what happened to a loved one.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was just released as a movie. Anyone considering turning a novel into a screenplay would find reading the book and then watching the movie instructive.

Where so much of the book is internal, about what characters are thinking, the movie tightens the plot to focus on two main characters and recreates the visual action of the novel.

I found the novel to have more depth, but the movie was also a pleasure to watch.

**********************************************

A fourth edition of Bill Johnson's writing workbook, A Story is a Promise and The Spirit of Storytelling, is now available for $2.99 from Amazon Kindle. The book reviews popular novels, movies and plays to teach an understanding of story structure.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

SOC Sunday: Thoughts on Fate and Tikkun Olam


Today’s (Optional) Writing Prompt: What’s your take on fate? Does everything happen for a reason? Are we in control of our own destiny?

Find the rules and the link-up on this writing prompt/5-minute brain dump at AllThingFadra.

I don't tend to believe that "everything happens for a reason," because some really, really horrible things happen. I do believe in a supreme being (which I call by various names and conceptualize in a variety of forms), and I have a tough time with the concept of that being willing human beings to suffer terribly.

I know some people believe that suffering is necessary to somehow "purify" a soul (I remember this from Catholic school) - sort of the "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" theory, although in some cases suffering does physically kill you, and it's the soul that's supposed to get stronger.

I believe we have more free will than that. I believe from moment to moment, we're called to choose the actions that will cause other human beings to suffer less. I believe in the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, "heal the world." I believe we have a choice between compassion and indifference, and to "be good" and "do right" we have to constantly choose compassion.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause v. Twilight

This post is inspired by “My Top Ten Vampire Rules” by Rhiannon Mills.

In a comment, Rhiannon wrote, “Erin, you should read a book called The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause. I'm quite convinced that Stephenie Meyer very well might have ganked MOST of her books and the characters from the character, Simon, in The Silver Kiss :) AND after Googling, I found out that I'm actually not the only person with this theory.”

The Silver Kiss, it appears from the copy I read, was first published in October 1990. I did not do the Google search or read any more about the subject. I simply read The Silver Kiss (a compact single volume rather than an epic) and came to my own conclusions. Here’s what I think.

Similarities

The main character is Zoe Sutcliff, age sixteen. Zoe’s mother, Anne, is dying of cancer. Anne is confined to a hospital bed, and Zoe’s often left alone while her dad, Harry, stays with her mom. Harry has essentially been left to be a single parent, and he struggles to communicate with Zoe and understand how her mother’s illness affects his daughter. Zoe has more household responsibilities than she did before her mother got ill. The Zoe-Harry relationship resembles the Bella and Charlie Swan relationship in its awkwardness. Bella Swan’s mother is also absent, and rather helpless when Bella is with her.

In the first chapter, Zoe’s best friend, Lorraine, announces she, with her father and stepmother, are moving to Oregon. It’s unclear where Zoe lives, but Klause mentions that Oregon is not far, so Zoe might live in Washington state, or perhaps in northern California. In the beginning of Twilight, Bella herself decides to leave her mother and stepfather in Phoenix (as they prepare to move to Florida) for her childhood home in Washington state.

Still within the first chapter, Zoe goes out for a walk. Klause writes, “The night was crisp and sweet like apples. A gibbous moon hung plump and bright.” The first book in Meyer’s series features an apple on the cover, and the moon inspired the titles of books two and three, New Moon and Eclipse.


Zoe walks to a park with a gazebo. (The gazebo is featured prominently in the film version of Twilight, in the prom scene in which Bella and Edward contemplate Bella’s mortality.) There, she sees a teenage boy with silver hair.

Said teenage boy takes over the narrative in the second chapter. He is the vampire Simon, no last name. His business in the park is killing and drinking blood - not from people, but from an animal, a rat in this case. He has killed people before, but his innate sense of morality told him it was wrong. In this way, he is like the Cullen clan of Twilight. Simon’s skin is pale, and does not sparkle. His hair, however, is distinctively silver and shiny.

Simon thinks Zoe is rather reckless to be alone in the park so late at night; Bella has a similar carelessness about her personal safety. He also calls her “pale as the milk of death.” Bella is notoriously pale for a person who lived in Arizona (although Klause tells us that Zoe is capable of tanning, something Bella never seems to do). Simon is attracted to Zoe’s beauty and vulnerability, as well as the smell of her blood. (Unlike Edward, Simon allows himself to take a taste.)

Zoe should be afraid of Simon, but isn’t. “Would he have hurt her? No. He looked like an angel in a Renaissance painting. Could beauty hurt?” Likewise, Bella is attracted to Edward’s outward beauty and tells him, “You won’t hurt me,” even when he confesses to being a killer.

Simon visits Zoe’s house without her knowing it, although he can’t come in unless she invites him. Edward, with no such restriction, comes into Bella’s room and watches her sleep at night. Like Simon, Edward himself never sleeps. Unlike Bella, Zoe feels violated and angry when she realizes Simon has been at her house, watching her.

Twilight and The Silver Kiss both feature a small group of young males who fight with the vampire. The men in The Silver Kiss never threaten Zoe directly, though she is somewhat offended when they “take over” her park. Simon doesn’t drive, but a Volvo does merit a mention:

“He crouched by a parked Volvo. Around the bumper he could see the park across the street. Two boys passed, smoking cigarettes and punching each other with the blows of comrades. They disappeared around the corner. He had gotten ahead of Zoe, but he could see her coming up the other side of the street.”

Stephenie Meyer's official Cullen Cars page is located HERE.

Simon has a vampire rival (his brother, Christopher, who appears to be a boy of about six) who threatens to kill Zoe and drink her blood. Simon kills his rival as Edward kills James.

Finally, The Silver Kiss is dedicated to Larry Callen. Could the name Callen have inspired the name Cullen?

Similarities to other books

In many ways, Simon and his brother Christopher resemble Dracula from Bram Stoker’s original novel. They need the soil of their homeland to sustain them. They’re capable of turning into bats, wolves and, apparently, also pigs. They can be killed with stakes or with sunlight.

The rivalry between older brother Christopher and younger brother Simon reminded me of Damon and Stefan Salvatore – who, in L.J. Smith’s novels, were also Europeans several hundred years old. The Salvatores are Italian, though, while Simon and his brother are English. (The TV Salvatores are Virginians from the 1800s.)

Armand in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles is described as looking like a cherub in a Botticelli painting. The child-vampire Christopher is reminiscent of Anne Rice’s Claudia, introduced in Interview With the Vampire in 1976.

Stephenie Meyer is apparently an Anne Rice fan also - recall that her vampires have different "gifts" like the ones in Twilight. Interview reveals that Lestat can read minds, but Louis can't. Edward is the Cullen clan's mind-reader.

We know that Anne Rice is a Stephenie Meyer supporter:



Differences

At its core, The Silver Kiss uses vampirism as an extended metaphor for death itself. Zoe is forced to come to terms with death because her mother is dying, and Simon eases her into the belief that death is a natural and necessary part of life. As part of this metaphor, Simon has to die. He and Zoe were never destined to be together eternally – exactly the opposite of Edward and Bella. Bella becomes immortal at eighteen, never having to face aging or death.

There are enough similarities that one could imagine that Stephenie Meyer read The Silver Kiss, kept it in the back of her mind for a number of years and was eventually inspired to write Twilight. To her credit, Meyer invented a much wider world for her vampire characters, including a rival clan of werewolves and the possibility that vampires could reproduce in ways other than biting.

The evolution of vampiric children:



From Claudia to Renesmee



This is an affiliate link:

The First Bite Is the Deepest by Elisa Catrina. $2.99 from Smashwords.com
“Funny and clever and emotionally hard-hitting” "A perfectly creepy read." Elisa Catrina's debut novel begins as a quirky send-up of vampire romance, but quickly turns sinister. High schooler Stella Ortiz starts dating the mysterious new guy, but her friends are convinced he's bad news: Sebastian misses tons of school, he day-drinks something that smells like pennies, and oh yeah, he's a vampire.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Vamps for Valentines Winner + Love for The Tale of the Body Thief

As chosen by Random.org, the winner of the two paperbacks in my Vampires for Valentines is...Denise Z! I'll be e-mailing you with a request for the address to which the books should be sent. Anne, you won the romance paperbacks giveaway.

I was thrilled last week when I read Nola Cancel's article stating that Imagine Entertainment, Ron Howard's company, has optioned Anne Rice's fourth Vampire Chronicles novel, The Tale of the Body Thief for possible production. The word that comes to mind is "Squee!"

This has inspired me to watch the first two film based on the Chronicles. I enjoyed Interview with the Vampire - but not the Guns 'N Roses cover of the Rolling Stones classic "Sympathy for the Devil."

This should be the theme song instead:



Not quite as entertaining, but still interesting, is Queen of the Damned, starring Aaliyah and Stuart Townsend. I don't love all the music in this; I'm no more a fan of Korn (whose lead singer acted as composer) than I am of G&R. I do like one song, though: The Deftones' "Change." In "Oakley Falls," I used this as Oakley's intro music.

This clip won't play on this blog, but it does link to YouTube, and you can see it there.



BUT it does bother me a tiny bit that Stuart Townsend is clearly brown-eyed, while book-Lestat has gray eyes. I'm not sure if the first movie had Tom Cruise wear contacts, but he seems to have naturally blue eyes. Blue is much closer to gray than brown is.

The non-Queen of the Damned version of the "Change" video will play here.



More on Anne Rice tomorrow...

Sorry, Edward, but this is too good to resist. This comes courtesy of Rhiannon Mills.


This is an affiliate link:

The First Bite Is the Deepest by Elisa Catrina. $2.99 from Smashwords.com
“Funny and clever and emotionally hard-hitting” "A perfectly creepy read." Elisa Catrina's debut novel begins as a quirky send-up of vampire romance, but quickly turns sinister. High schooler Stella Ortiz starts dating the mysterious new guy, but her friends are convinced he's bad news: Sebastian misses tons of school, he day-drinks something that smells like pennies, and oh yeah, he's a vampire.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"I Used to Be a Romance Writer" ~ Guest Post by Thelma Zirkelbach

I used to be a romance writer. People are surprised when I tell them this, because I don’t look like most people’s picture of a romance writer—say, Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone. When I explain that I’m also a speech pathologist, no one is surprised. I look like someone who would enjoy helping children overcome lisps. Nevertheless, I have written a number of books for Harlequin, so I’m a bona fide romance author. Here’s my story, with its not-so-happy ending.

I always say that I became a romance writer because I don’t drive on the highway. When my father’s health began to fail, I made frequent trips to visit him. We had three teenagers in the house at that time, so my husband stayed home to keep an eye on them. Because I fall asleep the minute the car leaves the city limits, I made my trips on the bus. Boring. I needed reading material. One day I was wandering through a discount store book department when I came upon a Silhouette romance. Hmm, just the right length to keep me occupied on my next bus trip. I bought it, read it, and got hooked on romance. I began buying two books, one for the trip there and another for the trip back. I bought more and read them at home.

One day I saw an article about Romance Writers of America, which was having its first annual conference in my home town of Houston. Hey, here were a bunch of women getting paid for writing what I was reading. Why not me?

I joined Romance Writers of America and hesitantly went to my first meeting. How would a nice middle-aged speech pathologist fit in with those sexy gals who turned out hot books? Surprise! Most of them were just like me. I had found a home and a group of friends.

Eventually I sold my first book, Blessing in Disguise, written as Lorna Michaels, to Harlequin Superromance. Alas, I never became really famous but I did sell my share of books, and yes, they were hot. In fact, the editor of my first book told me to cut down on the sex. I had too many love scenes.


My writing career continued until my last book came out in 2006. That was A Candle for Nick, a Silhouette Special Edition. Writing that book was eerie. The heroine’s son has leukemia and shortly after I pitched the idea to my editor, my husband was diagnosed with the same disease. I wrote that book while he fought a losing battle with cancer and finished it just weeks before he died.



His death propelled me from romance to creative non-fiction, where I have found another home. I’ve been working on a memoir, have published essays in various anthologies and am currently co-editing an anthology on widowhood with Silver Boomer Books. Anyone interested in contributing? Check out www.silverboomerbooks.com and click on For Writers. We’re accepting submissions through March 31.

I love writing, from those too-many sex scenes to the quiet reflection of the essays I write today, with my cat sitting on my desk and purring as I type on my computer. I love being a speech pathologist, too. I have the best of both worlds, although I wish my husband were still here to share it.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WIP Wednesday

The Vampires for Valentines giveaway post is HERE.

Are you an author with a current work in progress? Share about it with us on a future WIP Wednesday. Send an e-mail to erinoriordan AT sbcglobal DOT net.

Erin O'Riordan: This isn't really a work in progress, but I haven't done much writing this week, so here you go.

Peg Tittle, the author of Shit That Pisses Me Off, recently released a second volume. Not surprisingly, it's called More Shit That Pisses Me Off.


The Blurb: Challenging thoughts about everyday things: men who spit, guns, cell phones, the right to life, school crossing signs, inner peace, figure skating, grade ten history, sex, AIDS, christmas elves first contact, soldiers and mothers…

For every belief, attitude, and behaviour Tittle investigates (in a way that only a trained philosopher can), she exposes the often unflattering implications of endorsing that belief, attitude, or behaviour (not the least of which is that there is no reasoned argument one can give in support of, no acceptable, sufficient, defensible rationale for, the belief, attitude, or behaviour in question) and, furthermore, presents a great many counterarguments to those who would nevertheless persist – leaving the reader with way more to think about than the word count would suggest.

Philosophy with an attitude. Because the unexamined life is dangerous.

available now for Kindle for $2.99 (free read for Amazon prime members)

available May 2012 in other eformats at the usual online stores



Peg Tittle has an M.A. in Philosophy, a B.Ed. in English and Man-in-Society [sic], and a B.A. in Literature and Philosophy (with a minor in Psychology).

She has written Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason (Routledge, 2011), What If…Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy (Longman, 2005), Should Parents be Licensed? Debating the Issues (Prometheus, 2004), Ethical Issues in Business: Inquiries, Cases, and Readings (Broadview, 2000). She also contributed the Ethics unit to the high school philosophy text, Philosophy: Questions and Theories (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2003). Her papers have appeared in Sexuality & Culture: an interdisciplinary journal 1 (Autumn 1997), The International Journal of Applied Philosophy 11.1 (Summer/Fall 1996), and Philosophy in a Contemporary World 3.1 (Spring 1996) and have been anthologized in At Issue: Is Parenthood a Right or a Privilege? and Current Controversies: Child Abuse.

She is an Affiliate Scholar for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and was a columnist for The Philosopher Magazine’s online philosophy café for eight years and for Philosophy Now for two years. Her columns have also been published on a regular basis in Humanist in Canada , Links, and Academic Exchange Quarterly and on an occasional basis in Inroads, The Nugget, Canadian HR Reporter, Elenchus, Teaching and Learning Literature, University Affairs, South Australian Humanist Post, Forum, and The Humanist.

She has served on the ethics committee of the North Bay General Hospital and has had a number of positions in the education, social services, and recreation fields. She has also worked in maintenance and as a disc jockey.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Chocolates are a WriterGirl's 2nd Best Friend (after words, of course)

The Vampires for Valentines giveaway post is HERE.


Random.org declares the winner of the Romancing the Book paperback giveaway to be...Anne! Congratulations. I'll be contacting you by e-mail to get your address!

_________

Happy Lupercalia! To me, nothing says Valentine's Day like chocolate. I'm good with a Ritter Sport hazelnut bar, but for fancy Valentine's Day gift-giving, these chocolates are a girl's second-best friend. After words, of course. I love you, words.

Guylian Belgian chocolate seashells. I actually associate these with Christmas, since that was when my Catholic-of-Jewish-descent grandmother would order these delicacies, considered some of the finest Belgian chocolates. The company donates a portion of its profits to Project Seahorse, which supports ocean conservation.


Ethical Ocean Madagascar chocolate. This award-winning chocolate bar is made with 70% organic ingredients. If that wasn't good enough, it's also fair-trade chocolate; the farmers who produced the organic ingredients earned a fair wage.

Dagoba Organic Chocolate. These bars come in flavors including Eclipse (barely sweetened), New Moon, lavender blueberry and lemon ginger. Prefer to drink your chocolate? Dagoba's drink mixes come in flavors including chocolate chai and xocolatl, the latter of which is flavored with chilies.


Seattle Chocolates. If you like variety, you'll love the selection of specialty truffle bars from this company. They include:

*Pike Place Espresso

*Cappuccino Crunch

*Birthday Cake

*Coconut Macaroon

*Rainier Cherry

*San Juan Sea Salt

Want organic AND fair trade AND an espresso flavor? Then the Equal Exchange Co-Op is there for you.

If you're looking for something different from chocolate bars and hot chocolate mixes, try the Guthrie's Original Sin in a Tin chocolate pate dessert. It's all-natural, and it actually comes in a tin. So does Guthrie's Original Lemon Lust lemon crisp tart. The chocolate pate has a unique texture, and can be served hot or cold, by itself or spread on fruit or cookies.

Any one of these cocoa-rich offerings would make an excellent sacrifice to Juno Februata. They could also make me very, very happy.

Seahorse, Turneffe Islands, Belize. Image taken by Clark Anderson/www.aquaimages.net. Creative Commons license.

Advertisement: Save 5% on Valentine's Day gifts and gift baskets with promo code CFLESS through Feb. 15th at CoffeeForLess.com


Make Custom Gifts at CafePress

Monday, February 13, 2012

Blue Monday #1 - The Night Circus

Stopping by from Reading-Romances.com's Romancing the Valentine Giveaway Hop? Please find the giveaway post HERE.

The Vampires for Valentines giveaway post is HERE.

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Since I've become a Pinterest pin-head, I've wanted to start a new weekly feature, Blue Monday. In this, I'll share some of the highlights of my I've Got the Blues board.

This one has a little Water for Elephants flavor. I didn't read the book, but I did see the movie. I still say someone should mash up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Water for Elephants so it looks like Cedric Diggory runs off with a beautiful dragon trainer.



This one has the same color scheme.



I had some other shtuff here, but it didn't work as well as I'd hoped it would. So it's just Blue Monday now.

If you're drooling over the tulle skirt and in need of retail therapy, check out the couture collection for men, women, children and the home at MYHABIT.