Monday, June 30, 2008

It's where?

This week our topic is accuracy in the written word. I recently had some discussion on my own blog about this topic so I thought I would start out with that and go on from there.

I recently read four stories by one author and that led to a detailed discussion with the house hunk regarding the many ways a certain erect body part behaves. In every single book the author described this body part in a position that is a physical impossibility. We tried various experiments and... Realllly impossible. Unless he was hung better than a horse--and probably not even then.

That discussion led to other observations about incredibly silly things that writers describe. Now I am a woman. Yes, I know that probably comes as a terrible shock to some of you, but there it is. You'll just have to deal with it. As I was saying, I am a woman and therefore, I'm pretty sure of the general location of various specific
feminine parts. And unless the woman in a book is an alien, then her parts should be located in pretty much the same place as every other woman, right? RIGHT? Well, then, why am I reading books that have those parts in the wrong place? Is the writer in fact a man using a woman's name? Well if he is a she, then the internet is a wonderful thing, you know with pictures in living color and detailed instruction. Or he could ask the woman in his life to assist him in his investigations. If the writer is a woman, doesn't she have a mirror??? Just sayin', ya know?

You might look at it this way (no pun intended... get your mind out of the gutter!) If we're writing this stuff, shouldn't it at least be accurate? To my way of thinking, screwing that up is just as sloppy as a character walking into a room with a skirt on and two paragraphs later having her take off her jeans. Sloppy. And it reflects badly on all of us.

So you can see where I was at that point. Nothing annoys me more than a glaring inaccuracy in a book. I once stopped reading a book when I was confronted with an error that could easily be researched by looking at a map. Very simple. A map. If writers don't believe that no one notices, then they're wrong. I used the small city of Bristol, Tennessee as the backdrop for my book, Winter Hearts. Not too long ago, I heard from a reader who lives in Bristol, Tennessee. She gently twitted me about the wild goings-on in her fair city--according to my book. Readers notice.

In this day and age, there is no reason to have glaring errors when we have access to the enormous databases on the Internet. All it requires is time.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Releases

Weirdly Volume II: Eldritch is a collection of strange tales that will be released on June 24th by Wild Child Publishing.

Here is the blurb:

From paranormal to weird, from chilling to odd to scary, Weirdly Volume 2: Eldritch will sate your lust for strangeness in bite-sized pieces. Each tale weaves its own spell. Vampires, beasts, ghosts, evil creatures and, of course, every day people inhabit Weirdly’s pages.

Soldiers must reach their destination before the undead get to them first... What does the picture on the wall mean to Jen? Fate holds something in store for Lewis—but is it what he wants? Lillie embarks on another quest... Is the young man who sees and hears fluffy beings insane? An old letter urges a young woman to the train station—but is the train that puffs into view real? All these tales and more. Dare you read them?

Esprit de Corps is my contribution to this anthology. It is the story of a group of Army Rangers trying to get out of Al-Rutbah. They aren’t worried about insurgents keeping them from reaching their destination. No, it’s the hordes of zombies they must overcome to make it home.

Be sure to pick up a copy. This is a collection of stories you don’t want to miss.

Pixels and Pain is now available in e-book format.

Pixels and Pain

Here is a blurb:

Explore the dangerous domain of a madman…

Johnny Walker is a FBI agent on a personal crusade to catch a killer. One year ago, his little sister was brutally murdered and the police still don’t have a suspect.

Mary Marshall founded a watchdog group to rid the world of online predators after her sister fell victim to a charismatic stranger she met on the popular networking website, HiyaSpace.

As the similarities surrounding their losses draw these two together, they soon embark on a desperate quest for answers—a quest wrought with peril, betrayal, and unimaginable horror.

In a virtual world where everyone’s a friend, and everyone’s a suspect, will Johnny and Mary be able to track down and stop an internet serial killer whose unspeakable deeds threaten to destroy them all?

Or will these two hunters become the prey, unable to escape the web of Pixels and Pain?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Three the Hard Way

Well, I had a post all prepared for this morning, but when I went to upload it from my thumb drive… it was gone. I’ve tried to recreate it as best I can on short notice, but if you find it halting and poorly written, I must beg forgiveness and promise to try to do a better job next week.

The ménage, that dirty little secret, that fantasy many have, but few will admit, this is the topic of the week and those who’ve came before me have done a remarkable job of covering this issue from all angles. Well, almost every angle…

Maybe it’s because I’m odd, maybe it’s because I’m just wired this way, but m/m/f does absolutely nothing for me. Always one to keep an open mind, I’ve tried to become interested in it, tried to see it from a character’s point of view, but I’m just not into it.

Why on earth would I say something like that, especially knowing full well, that some of my friends from this very blog, write about this exact type of relationship? Because as a writer, even though the books with m/m/f are very popular right now, I’ll never be able to write one, because my personal preferences would surely bleed down to my characters and the result would be meh at best.

Now the f/f/m scenario is a different matter all together.

Picture a time when waterbeds were still popular. Now imagine the bed with all of the sheets and covers tossed to the floor and four industrial sized bottles of strawberry flavored body glide poured on it.

Two women and a man frolic on the slippery surface, their glistening bodies entwined, skin sliding, lips roaming, fingers probing, tongues flicking. And that’s just the foreplay. The center of attention shifts frequently, each of the participants striving to please each other, striving to maintain a balance to be sure the experience is nothing short of bliss for all concerned.

Each person sharing the pleasure of all, each body plunged into near sensory overload, each becoming a part of a whole. When I hear (or read) ménage, this is the image that most often springs to mind.

Now, I’ve never claimed to be an erotic writer (haven’t quite succumbed to the draw of the dark side), but I’ve actually incorporated a ménage scene (or three) into one of my novels that should be coming out next year. It may be the start of a trend. I found I really enjoyed writing these particular scenes. I guess only time will tell…

Regardless of the gender of the participants, I wonder what effect the writing might have on the reader. Does the mere fact that the reader has chosen this story suggest it is already a fantasy that interests them? What if a writer has captured the scene with such vivid imagery and passion (as a good artisan is quite capable of doing), the reader decides they want to give it a try in real life? Fantasy and the actual act are often miles apart as regards to the emotional impact and possibly tangible consequences of indulging in a night (week, month?) of pleasure. Or by choosing to read about the fantasy are they afforded to indulge without the risk of hurting or being hurt by people they care about? Or does it matter at all? We provide the entertainment, what they do with the information afterwards is up to them

Thursday, June 26, 2008

the numbers game

Ménage, threesomes, foursomes, group sex—polygamy. Different words with similar meanings. Men have admitted for years that having two or more women at once is one of their ultimate fantasies. I read a LOT of it during my college years in Robert Heinlein’s later works, including Time Enough for Love, Cat Who Walked through Walls, and To Sail beyond the Sunset. Whole cultures and religions have been built around polygyny (one man, many women) after all. And you know sometimes those sultans, or sheiks, or whatever, weren’t only doing one concubine at a time.

So now we’re starting to see an open interest in polyandry—one woman, multiple men. Is this new? Not really. I remember being faintly horrified by Paint your Wagon, as a kid. It started on Broadway in 1951. The movie with Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin came out in 1969—an apt year, no?

Face it folks, in the last 50 years, women have come a long way in understanding and expressing their own sexuality. The fantasy of having multiple partners do things to your body that require more than one mouth, two hands, and one set of sex organs is pretty powerful, no matter which washroom you use.

We’ve seen this week that ménage á trois is properly defined as a situation where the multiple partners are all committed and emotionally attached to one another in a living arrangement. In other words—polygamy. Does polygamy, or true ménage work in real life? I’d have to say that like any lifestyle choice it works for some and not others. There are certainly going to be issues. First of all there are social ramifications. No hospital in the world is going to acknowledge two fathers in the birthing room (okay, maybe a few, but not most). Same for schools. Legal issues like health coverage and mortgages can get awkward. It may work, but I’m bloody damn certain it isn’t easy. Also I’d imagine it’s very hard to maintain a relationship where all three bonds remain equal, and where two of the partnership don’t eventually edge the third out. I know I’m too insecure to share my partner, not even with another man. I need to know that in our relationship, he’s all about me, just as I’m all about him.

But the fantasy—yeah, that’s powerful. Just like vampire romance is powerful because those characters truly get their happy-ever-after. And one thing my dear cohorts on this blog have forgotten to mention, is that right now, ménage romances sell. Sometimes folks, the bottom line is, really, the bottom line. I looked at sales figures one month when all the bills were overdue and weighed my options. McDonalds or ménage? Guess what won?

Now with that said, once I told myself to do it, I had a blast. It’s silly and fun and again, it’s fantasy. The characters are two elves (m/f) and a demon (the other m). And I enjoyed every minute of writing their story. (Three for All, Ellora’s Cave, October 2008) It is an m-m-f story, which means, I’m told, that the guys get into each other as well as the girl. I find this a lot more believable on an emotional level. If three people are rolling around in the bed, eventually, penis is going to rub against penis. It’s a pretty thin membrane between the two holes, folks. It just doesn’t work for me, logically, if the guys aren’t at least a little turned on by each other. The exceptions to this I’ve seen in fantasy, include Anny’s Honeysuckle, where the two brothers are sort of two halves of the same being. I can suspend disbelief if you give me a reason. I just have less problems accepting it the other way. As Regina said, sometimes paranormal elements make the whole thing work better. In my elf and demon cultures, there’s no prejudice against same gender attraction or groups.

So, yes, I wrote a story because the market is there. Does that make me a hack? If so, that’s fine with me. I think the story will stand on its own merit. It's a true romance, just with three protagonists. I enjoyed writing it, and I like the characters as well as their HEA. Does that make me depraved? Snort. I have the most conservative lifestyle of anyone I know. I’ve been happily married for almost 23 years to the only man I’ve ever been with. No real desire to broaden my personal experience. But in my stories? Ah there, the sky is the limit.

Seriously…sex in flight…gotta write that sometime. Got a gargoyle/half dragon story coming up…could work there…

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Accidental Menage

Have to say I hadn't given much thought to writing a menage until recently although I like reading them. Menage, for those of us who have a, tame lifestyle, it's pure wicked fantasy and there's not a thing wrong with that. But honestly? That's how I look at menage. I don't think it's the norm although I'd be interested in seeing statistics on how many people live that lifestyle or just indulge on occasion.

As a writer of erotic romance, I have to say I've always been kind of vanilla, I guess. One woman, one man...very hot, but there you go, VANILLA. That's okay. BDSM, menage, f/f, or m/m isn't for everyone. Thing is I find I'm branching out these days. Maybe my comfort level as a writer is expanding and that's a good thing because, as writers, we want to grow and try doing new things.

Well, finally, I moved to the next level, crossed over to the dark side, and I've written my first menage and currently I'm working on another. And it all happened by accident! Not long ago, I was seriously stalled on a work-in-progress. This wasn't brain surgery. It was an erotic romance. But for some reason, my mind just froze. I talked with a friend about the whole stalling-out thing and she suggested an exercise that seemed a little different so I decided to give it a try. She told me to write something completely "different" from what I'd done before. Didn't have to be long or anything...just different. She suggested writing a story about a love affair between a were-rabbit and a were-tiger. Okay, rolled my eyes and laughed over that one, but she had a point. I got it.

So just to give myself a break from the stubborn work-in-progress, I gave it a try. I had the flash of an idea for a paranormal and jumped in with both feet. I've NEVER had so much fun writing a story. This was another genre I hadn't tried and yes, it definitely took me to another level in my writing. The story flew and before long, due to the paranormal element, I was injecting menage into the plot. It was an accident, but it worked. I finished the shifter story in about four days, incorporating what I've been calling a MENAGE plus ONE. Guess I could've called it a foursome but that just sounded too much like a bunch of guys planning a golf date.

Now I've never been much of a fan of "stranger sex". You woman walks into a bar and spots a couple of equally hot guys. She stops and and you. Come with me. We're gonna have wild monkey sex. Uh-uh. I don't find that appealing in anyway but I've found that injecting a bit of paranormal into the mix frees the writer up to deal with any morality qualms nicely. You have a world to create and diffent standards crafted exclusively by the writer. You can get away with just about anything.

For what it's worth, I sold the paranormal with the menage plus one to Ellora's Cave and now I'm onto another. It was so fun that I just had to do it again. Sometimes it takes a gentle nudge to try something different and some accidents can be good things.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Just another Threeway?

Menage. It's not someone a business owner hires to coordinate other workers. You will not find the position of a Menager (manager). Nope. Wouldn't that be an eye-opener? "The position of Menager is now available with full benefits." Heh.

Because I'm the least likely of this crowd (okay, maybe James too) to approach this subject with any kind of authority, I decided to check out Wikipedia. I can't be the only one who reads this blog with only the barest understanding of what a menage a trois is. This is what Wikipedia says:

Ménage à trois is the French term describing a relationship or domestic arrangement in which three people, often a married couple and another lover, share a sexual relationship, although the relationship might or might not involve all three persons having sexual relations with each other. The French phrase literally translates as "household of three".

The official definition went on to describe how it is often termed a threesome. However upon looking up the definition of threesome, there is a noted misunderstanding between the two terms. A threesome can have any three people for the purposes of sex or furthering the sexual experience. That means the third person could be someone who watches the other two or someone who participates in fondling but not the sex act. Yes, it can mean participating in sex with the other two but the third party is often an invited outsider who is not a part of the couple's relationship. It's called "soft-swinging".

On the other hand Menage carries with it all the specifics of any three people having sex, specifically, and by requirement, are in a relationship together. This definition was most enlightening:

A threesome generally involves a couple that seeks out a third person for sex without the emotional entanglements that are normally seen in an open relationship. On the other hand, the term ménage à trois implies a special form of a threesome which involves an emotional bond among all three people and in many ways resembles more of an open relationship than a threesome.

How ignorant I was! I had no idea that a menage required a special bond between three people. I thought the bond I had seen in pieces from other authors (example: Anny Cook's Kama Sutra Lovers, Ellora's Cave-July 18th) was due to the author's preference in making a meaningful connection between her three characters. -See yesterday's Grip post- As Anny is someone who requires a deeper emotional connection between her characters to make the threeway believable.

Apparently though, there is a huge difference between a threeway and a menage. And apparently you can have a book with both! I suppose a fourway is a menage with a fourth person watching or peripherally participating... the options are endless now.

The definitions do open it up, don't they? That means if you are an exhibitionist in your sexual life, you are participating in a threeway, you soft-swinger you. I bet you had no idea.

What I find thoroughly intriguing is that the definition for Menage REQUIRES a bond between all three. We are not talking about being lose and free with a third you asked to come over. We are talking about a committed relationship of three people. Three people who are emotionally tied to one another, love one another, cannot imagine not being together and then taking those three people and joining them in the highest form of intimate contact. Changes the perspective doesn't it? Makes it less of a whispered word and more of a beautiful union.

And the difference is commitment. In the end, isn't it always about commitment? And isn't that the romance writer's code to the reader?


Monday, June 23, 2008

Three is just right!

It seems that I get to carry the ball onto the field. Monday, a new week, a new subject. This week the subject is menage in romance. I didn't bother to specify erotic romance because mostly if it's a menage, then by definition, it's in an erotic romance. There's been a lot of speculation about the reason that menage is so popular at the moment. I think it's pretty simple. The two males, one female romances allow for the fantasy of two men pampering and making love to one lucky woman. Notice that I said it's a fantasy.

Yep, I know there are people out there involved in polyamorous groups, but the truth is that there aren't a lot of them in long-term relationships and that is what most romances are about. Most romances after all, are going for the happy ever after ending. So in that sense yeah, they're mostly fantasy. It is difficult enough sharing your inner self with one person. Sharing that way between three people is even more difficult.

There are some menage stories where the actual events are short term--sort of an experiment and not meant to be long term. I have trouble justifying those kinds of stories for myself as I'm pretty much an all or nothing kind of woman. I know that there are many readers and writers that have no problem with short-term sexual relationships. They are just no part of my lifestyle. And because of that, I have difficulty in setting up a situation for my characters where that would be part of the story.

So, how do I write a menage? In every single one I've written, there is a permanent relationship between the three characters from the very beginning. Since I write fantasy genre, it's relatively simple to set up the story so that there is a permanent marriage or relationship that is legal. Then the trick is to develop three characters who fall in love, yet are different and independent. The sex is the easiest part.

I have talked to other writers who have difficulty writing menage scenes and I think...I think it has more to do with whether the characters are truly loving toward each other--or not. If they don't love each other, then there is no love scene. I once wrote a scene and sent it off to a critique partner. She wrote back... "If you're trying to convince me that they love her...well, I don't believe you." I took a long hard look at the scene and she was right. It was simply insert tab "A" into slot "B", etc.

Whether writing two or more in a romance, the key point is the feelings between them. If those don't ring true, then the rest of the story won't either. After all, the emotions are the key to any story--even a menage. That's what makes the fantasy "real".

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Marriage Plot, NEW EXCERPT

Available NOW from Resplendence Publishing!

Nicolas closed the space between them. He could think of only one way to make the questions stop until he could settle on a better explanation. And damn if the idea of kissing her into silence didn’t appeal to him.

Her eyes widened.

This close, he could see flecks of brown and amber streaking through the honey in her irises. Her lashes fluttered but he did not miss the wary interest in them, or the way her breath caught as he leaned toward her.

“I’d rather continue your instruction,” he whispered.

“You’re trying to distract me from my purpose.”

“Would that be so wrong?” He brushed his mouth across hers.

Sensation sizzled like water droplets on a hearth. The sweet warmth of her breath tickled the sensitive flesh of his mouth. He wanted her to kiss him. He wanted her to reach up on her toes as she had the first time, thrilling him with her forwardness. Would she know what he was after?
He cupped the side of her face, stroking her cheekbone with the pad of his thumb. His gaze lingered on hers until she lowered it to his mouth. There to the left, by the bridge of her nose, he found a faded freckle. Another below her right eye. Three along the slim line of her nose and a small, flat beauty mark at the corner of her lips. He’d not seen it before. Nicolas kissed it, reveling in the possessive curl of pleasure over her breathy gasp.

Had Puck seen these same marks up close? Did Puck know Caroline had played outdoors without a bonnet when she was a child, marking her perfect skin with nearly invisible spots? They weren’t invisible to Nicolas.

He would have expected the reminder of her youth to pull him away from his current longing, to fade the lust boiling in his belly. Instead it only served to distance her from childhood, to fade her immaturity as it had faded her freckles, and make her appear that much more the woman. A woman, not a girl, from whom he desperately wanted a kiss.

Why had he stopped? His slow scrutiny tortured her. His heated gaze searching and settling on each feature warmed her as much as his hand on her cheek. His lips brushed the side of her mouth. She hadn’t realized she’d been holding her breath until she gasped.

His face hovered over hers, too close for propriety, not nearly enough to satisfy her screaming senses. What did he wait for? Permission? Caroline rested her hand on his chest. The quick, strong beats of his heart were a metronome to the melody of her pulses. His lips parted, but still he did not move.

With a soft cry, Caroline rose up to meet him. Her lips claimed his since he would not claim hers. Their mouths bumped awkwardly in her haste but smoothed with heated flesh to heated flesh. Closing her eyes on sensation, she sighed against his mouth, wanting but not sure she knew how to take. It hadn’t been so complicated in the rain storm, when he had kissed her, showed her how to blend their mouths.

Shoving thought from her mind, she acted on instinct. Would he laugh at her clumsy seduction? The beat beneath her hand raced. Caroline’s lips sank into his, this time parting under him and capturing his bottom lip between hers.

He groaned.

Encouraged, she slid her free arm around his neck. Her legs trembled and Nicolas pulled her to him. His body supporting her, warming her, she drew back from his mouth, overwhelmed and uncertain.

But Nicolas wouldn’t let her.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Guest author: Katie Blu

Today the Oh Get a Grip! crew welcomes guest author Katie Blu, all the way from Down Under:

I reckon I don’t have much to add to the thoughts already posted. My take on marriage is right limited as I’m not married. A fellow will come along one day to whom I will consider turning the key to my freedom over but until then I’d have to be mad to shackle myself until I’m ready. That’s not to say there isn’t a reason to find someone to share yourself with. Just I haven’t found him.

I’m not sold on there being only one kind of commitment. I believe commitment comes in many forms, not just marriage. I support relationships and see that my characters all feel likewise. My project at hand is a m/m, vampire/were with touches of ménage. I would challenge a reader to say the two heroes are not in a committed, loving relationship.

Perhaps marriage is not a requirement for a satisfying ending to a book. Perhaps that is the workings of the industry we write for. My thought is that if you have that loved one whose heart beats in time with yours, the question of marriage is no longer a goal. It is an agreement of legal proportions but not the final word on what works for some couples. Are they happy? Does their relationship hinder you in any way? Does the recognition of a m/f relationship earn a dominant role above m/m or a loving ménage? Did some government official decide this and under what pretense?

Having touched that subject then, on to something I can discuss. Books. I released my first ever short story in the March Caveman Anthology, Jewels of the Nile Vol. 1 to solid reviews. The second, Surprised by Desire, an Oh Yum! was released in May. My next, Beloved Brother will release on July 4th. I also write for Total-E-Bound with a release August 18, Office Politics. To tie back into the topic of the week, all the characters address commitment of a kind. Click on the cover to buy the book
Here’s a HOT clip of my upcoming release from Ellora’s Cave, Beloved Brother JULY 4:

Phoebe Marks squeezed further into the shadows of the wraparound porch, trying as hard as she could not to pant in unison with Mrs. Gilfoy who keened low and fast with each thrust from her lover. Mrs. Gilfoy, her back to Phoebe, had her sexy black dress pulled up around her neck. Her body glistened like polished alabaster in the moonlight.

Her lover’s fingers dug into her hips. Mrs. Gilfoy’s bottom hopped on the banister with each impaling thrust from his lusty cock. The top of his dark head on her shoulder told Phoebe he nuzzled against Mrs. Gilfoy’s neck as she clung to his broad shoulders.

Heat pooled between Pheobe’s legs. Her breath caught at the shuddering squeal of release when the lover pounded harder and faster into Mrs. Gilfoy, not stopping until he grunted his own satisfaction.

It was the first time she’d actually seen him fuck someone. Phoebe had imagined it many times in the last two years, but never like this. Never the primal drive to screw she had just witnessed. Her breath was still coming hard as she watched Jared reclothe Mrs. Gilfoy and tug her hem into place. His hand drifted over her ass as he walked her to the door.

Phoebe’s thighs throbbed, her body clenched deep inside. She’d seen him neck her best friend in high school. She’d even watched him cup one girl’s breast, stroke over it, making her kiss him with frenzied intensity. That was college. Phoebe’s nipples had contracted tightly at that. And there had been the time she’d seen his car in the parking lot outside his dorm building, rocking vigorously beneath a tree. But Jared Larabie, her new step-brother, had never made her ache so badly, before tonight.

Mom had to be crazy to marry his dad. What’s worse was she hadn’t given Phoebe any notice—just up and married him in a courthouse. Not that Phoebe begrudged her remarrying after the way Dad ran off, but did she have to marry the father of her daughter’s nemesis? The guy who’d made high school hell and college life torture once she’d looked past his mocking sneer to his handsome face and still had to hate him for past sins?

Okay, she’d been at the bar celebrating her twenty-first birthday and had made the odious mistake of hitting on the sexiest man who’d walked in the door. Imagine her horror when she’d quit staring at his hot bod long enough to take a gander at his face. Two years ago. Two years and that instant attraction after years of avoidance hadn’t left her, damn him.

When Mom called to announce the wedding today, Phoebe had dropped everything to come home. It appeared Jared had done the same. She eyed Mrs. Gilfoy. Well, maybe not everything. The only dropping he’d done on Mrs. Gilfoy was her panties. Phoebe stifled a snort.

Mrs. Gilfoy kissed Jared goodnight and slipped into her house. It was then Pheobe realized Jared knew she was there. His gaze locked on her through the shadows and he smirked. His loping gait brought him to the spot where he’d fucked Mrs. Gilfoy into next week. Leaning on the banister, Jared stared into the shadows where Pheobe stood.

“Did you get a good look, Phoebe?”

And a HOT clip of my upcoming release from TEB, Office Politics (unedited) AUGUST 18:

He froze when he made the corner and saw Betsy in his chair, her slick pussy lifted to the world, her fingers stroking over glistening curls. She moaned softly with her head thrown back, her lips parted, and her glasses askew over tightly shut eyes. Max’s fingers clenched on his briefcase. He closed his eyes thinking his fantasy life had developed way out of control. He reached down and adjusted his suddenly attentive cock.

He forced his mind to think of the woman as he saw her every day. Betsy was a serious woman with a fantastic work ethic, not an erotic poster girl. Okay, maybe his idea of an erotic poster girl, but it had something to do with the shoulder length curly hair and the funky horn-rimmed glasses, one played off the other. It was sassiness and brains and fuck if it wasn’t sexy. Her smart approach to the magazine industry made her a tough competitor for the editor’s position. There was no chance he was going to let her get it. It also simply wasn’t possible Betsy was sitting in his chair moments before midnight in an empty office, stroking her pussy. It just wasn’t.

I hope you enjoyed the clips!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Second Time Around


And it begins with a kiss, much like the actual courtship. My wife and I were friends long before we were lovers. We hung out a lot, having similar interests, but neither of us were looking for a relationship, having both survived nasty breakups and subsequent divorces. We would go dancing, check out movies, hit the karaoke bars and just generally tear up the town. She was my wingman as it were, complete with all the duties that title usually entails and I hers.

We even had a notion that we would be roommates and share a nice apartment for a while. I needed a roommate, but let’s face it most guys are slobs and I like a clean neat home to live in so the idea of sharing space with any of my male friends (of which, I only had a few as most of my friends have always been of the fairer sex) was extremely unappealing. She also needed a roommate and since we already spent so much time together anyway, it seemed like a good fit. We set the plan in motion and started making arrangements as I waited for the lease on my house to expire.

Then it happened. We were out dancing one evening and something sparked between us. I couldn’t help myself, I kissed her and she returned the kiss eagerly. We decided to leave the club early, actually within a few minutes of the kiss. The next day, I tossed my little black book in the trash and I haven’t dated another woman since. We dated for nearly six months before she asked me to marry her. I told her I could think of no one I’d rather spend the rest of my life with.

We were in the process of buying a home and had just decided on the one we still live in today. On the day we signed the papers, I made the engagement official on bended knee with ring extended in the bare expanse of our new living room.

As we’d both been married before, we decided on a small ceremony… very small. We flew out to Vegas and had the wedding in The Little White Wedding Chapel. It was just the two of us, even our witnesses worked at the chapel.

That was nearly seven years ago. I still feel that spark when I look at her, when I touch her, when I kiss her. Just the thought of her body pressed against mine makes me smile. Life before her seems like a hazy dream and life with her well, it has been a dream come true. I had no idea love could be like this and seems to have only grown stronger over the years. She is everything I could ask for in a friend, a wife, a lover… a soul mate.

Have we had our ups and downs? Of course we have, there is no way people could spend as much time together as we do without occasionally knocking heads, but we almost find a common ground and never go to bed angry. We are strong believers in communication. If something bothers us, no matter how minute, we discuss it. Even a small problem if left unresolved can fester into something so hideous, the fallout is far worse than the initial infraction could possibly warrant. I learned that the hard way as did my wife. We often joke that our first marriages were just training to let us no what NOT to do to keep each other happy.

As long as she is by my side, the world is my oyster…

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wedding Crashes

No, the missing R is not a typo. Keep reading.

My wedding was almost 23 years ago (June 29, 1985, to be exact) and yet, of course there are parts of it I remember like it was yesterday.

I was 22, and so was the groom. I'd just graduated college, he was still figuring out where and what he wanted to be. My parents covered most of the cost without a quibble, and it was a nice, middle-of-the-road, working-class wedding. My dress cost a few hundred, but not a few thousand dollars. The reception was at the local American Legion hall with a buffet of fried chicken, mostacolli, and...ham..I think. The usual. The bar was included, but I remember it being hours into the reception before I managed to pause and get a drink--7-up because I was so thirstry from talking to everyone. The music was a disaster. Glenn's brother was supposed to bring the records for the dj to use (a college friend using Glenn's equipment)--and he forgot. So we basically had a few country ones I'd brought, the red and blue Beatles collections, and whatever cassette tapes people had in their cars. After the first half hour we all quit noticing.

My maid of honor hooked up with Glenn's best man (his brother and my best friend from high school) they were married a year later and are still together today. At their wedding another couple hooked up--and they're still together too. I'm not sure, but I think the chain continued from there. Weddings are nothing if not contagious. Another pair emerged from our wedding party--my cousin and Glenn's best friend. That one didn't last, much to my dismay. But as that friend eventually married one of my critique partners instead, I've forgiven him . (wink and a grin)

One of my big problems is that I tend to giggle at weddings. Truthfully, though I believe in the seriousness of marriage, I've never been very good at taking ANYTHING in life too seriously. Life is funny. Better to laugh than cry, right? So when one of my bridesmaids started sobbling LOUDLY, I was in trouble. Unfortunately we were lined up so I had a perfect line of eye contact with the groomsmen. And these were all my D & D buddies--my friends as well as Glenn's. This was bad. Three ushers and the bride up there on the stage trying desperately not to laugh.

And the piece-de-resistance? Glenn and I are both noted for being a bit--irreverent--at best. So imagine this sequence: my father gives me away and takes his seat. I take the groom's hand. Together, we take that first step onto the stage....


The single clap of thunder that was heard all day went off.


Our friends demanded to know how we arranged this.

I thought the minister was going to wet his pants.

Fortunately, he collected himself enough to marry us anyway, and after 23 years, I'd have to say it took. Can't imagine being with anyone else. And I REALLY can't imagine the nightmare of having to DATE again at my age. Besides, no one else would know all the inside jokes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Talk Talk Talk

I'll be the first to admit I'm no expert on fancy weddings. We didn't HAVE one. My DH was in law school at the time, money was tight, and we, frankly, didn't want to WAIT so we basically ELOPED. Nothing fancy...believe me. Looking back I wish we'd had a picture or two to commemorate the occasion but no. Just memories of the day and a great weekend at Galveston Island. We'll be married 26 years this October. We had a HALLOWEEN WEDDING, if you can believe it. It's always been a big joke around our house that instead of saying "I DO", we said "TRICK OR TREAT" or I might get completely corny and say our wedding was very scary. Yuck Yuck.

Funny thing, my sister married two years later and had all the bells and whistles. A very posh affair, mass amount of money spent and I still remember her sitting in the bathtub CRYING hours before the wedding because she was soooo majorly stressed out. It went off without a hitch though. Very beautiful. She and her husband will celebrate 24 years together at the end of summer.

Over the course of our marriage, we've had our ups and downs like most couples, but we've always worked through things. Talk, talk, talk. It's the most important advice I could give any new couple. Most arguements really and truly seem to stem from little things and I learned early on to ask myself if this little deal is really IMPORTANT. Nine times out of ten, it isn't. Marriage is about giving, bending, understanding, and compromise. My husband has been practicing law in this area of Texas for many years, has handled thousands of divorces. Yes, lots are warranted but more often than not, couples lose that sizzle and spark and end things because of it. It's a shame really because sizzle and spark isn't all that important in the end. Yeah, we revive it from time to time...have date nights and spend lots of time together...but marriage is more about friendship and common goals, in my view.

It might not sound very romantic, but there it is.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And then what?

Ahhh love. Sometimes it sucks but we in the romance industry have made it our business to sell it with flowers and tender sentiment have we not? Have you noticed how most mainstream romances carry a story of the hero's and heroine's trip to the altar and then stop? How once they get married, the story ends? We get them there and then it's up to the characters to make it work. And just like life we offer them no instruction manuals. In fact, I think we kind of chuckle maniacally, sit back, and see what happens. Or maybe it's that we are panting so hard from getting them to that milestone we give up and say, "You two take it from here."

In real life-pretty sure I don't need to tell you this, but anyway-the music doesn't swell when he kisses you the first time. Sure there are those lovely butterflies which have been sprayed with Raid by the time you hit ten years together. Romantic love turns into something more sustaining, we are told. He scratches more or you no longer know what it's like to go to the bathroom without someone following you in. You have set up routines and none of them involve saving a loved one from a bad guy, going undercover in disguise, or time travel. Those have been replaced with cleaning the toothbrush cup and emptying the dishwasher. No deep, searing kisses goodbye, quick groping feels when no one is looking that make you two drop to the kitchen floor and forget all else, no tongue wars. We know what the other likes and hopefully strive for that. Sure we might spice things up and those butterflies may try valiantly to give one last beat of their wings, but basically the thrill is muted.

Why don't we write about that? What happens to Bob and Susie when they have rugrats slamming the front door to get to the school bus and today, today Bob gives Susie "the look" which gets her hot and makes her throat dry? When Bob rips his tie off and says, "Screw work, I'm doin' my wife with overtime." Are we there? Are we capturing those moments in ink?

Sometimes I think we ought to. We should carry the story beyond the nuptials in more than a sequel with secondary characters. We should offer hope to the men and women who divorce 50 percent of the time. I heard one woman complain that she'd been married three times because after the first few years, the tingles went away. I thought it sad. They are supposed to go away. They are supposed to develop into something deeper, stronger, more important than a flit and flutter but a security in knowing this man is here in your life FOR YOU for the rest of your life. That this man wants to wake up to you every day and no matter how fat you feel, how bad you complain about the weather, how PMS'ed you are, he wants you. Only you. And you know what? You want his whiny ass too. Sure that gut is getting bigger but when you look in his gorgeous green eyes and they sparkle cause he just saw something he KNOWS you are snarking at internally, you connect and it becomes a warm hug pressing the inside of your breastbone.

Yeah. That enduring thing is different. It's not outright sexy and may not make you damp or hard or weak with need but it's strong. It's what keeps you coming back to one another. It's why he hugs you when you're cooking dinner or waits til you're on the phone to cop a feel. Why he swats your butt when you walk by and why you snuggle up to his side at night, your head on his shoulder as you fall asleep. Romance changes. It matures and spreads its fluttering wings into a stable, sure cocoon around you two. It's what happens next.

Scott and I are celebrating 13 years on July 1st. It's a few weeks off. And I do have my moments where I want to drop kick him though I'm pretty convinced he has those moments about me as well. And yet, here we are, two stubborn people wholly committed to each other. You don't find that kind of commitment very often.


Monday, June 16, 2008

You're getting married when?

The picture is my wedding picture. That's the house hunk, naturally. Um... forty years ago. The day after Halloween he called me up and asked me what I thought about getting married at Christmas. Uh-hmm. I was still seventeen. In Chicago, it was illegal for a female to leave home until she turned eighteen so I was living with my parents though I had graduated from high school and was working full time. I made the princessly sum of $200 a month--take home pay.

Anyway, I checked the calendar that was hanging on the wall above the phone, the only phone in the apartment in the kitchen. My mom was sitting at the kitchen table making a grocery list but she perked up when she heard the subject of our conversation. In the next twenty minutes the house hunk and I decided that we'd get married the 16th of December. I would be eighteen for all of three weeks. Nice and legal.

When I hung up the phone, Mom looked at me and said, "We need to order the cake by next week." And that was it.

In the ensuing weeks I went looking for something to wear. White, of course. Try finding a white dress in Chicago in the winter! However, much to my surprise, I did locate a white dress suitable for an informal wedding on a clearance rack. $10. A friend made the veil. I found white shoes (which I wore once) for $6 on another clearance table. (Are you keeping track of the tab so far???)

The wedding went off without a hitch. I had asked a woman in our church to manage the reception. She and Mom arranged to "settle up" after the reception. When Mom asked for the final accounting the woman informed her that the reception was a wedding gift from her and her husband. So Mom and Dad paid for the cake. That was their total cost.

The house hunk's parents paid for the flowers.

Forty years later our $50 wedding is still a happy memory. I think there were probably a total of fifty guests. After the wedding we went down to the church fellowship hall and had cake, coffee, punch (non-alcoholic), mints and nuts. Our pastor and my dad shared the ceremony duties and Dad signed my wedding certificate. It started a tradition in our family. Dad married the rest of the bunch, too.

Looking back on it, I'm so happy that it was a quiet little wedding. In the morning when I arrived at the church the sun was shining. By the time the reception was over, it was snowing and that seemed a perfect ending to the day. I was kind of young, but back then I really didn't understand just how young I was. Nor did I have any idea of all the ups and downs that were stretching out ahead of me. I'm really, really glad that I didn't have a clue.

Forty years seems like a long time, but it went by in such a flash. Perhaps that is the real secret to a long marriage. The time zooms by so fast that you don't realize it's gone.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Always A Cowboy, available now!

What a sense of completion, to finally finish my first series! Yep, as of Friday, the Love at the Crazy H series is officially complete. For those of you who have been waiting and prodding me for Trip's story, well, here it is: TA DA!

So here's a taste of Always a Cowboy, available now from the Wild Rose Press. Click on the cover for more information!

Blurb: Trip, the youngest Hall brother had a nice career going in Los Angeles until a car-crash gone wrong destroyed his future as a stuntman. Now he’s back in Shirley learning how to walk again and learning to be a single dad to baby Trevor. He doesn’t have time in his life for a woman, especially one with a three-year-old daughter. Beth learned her lesson back in high school about Trip’s playboy ways, and she knows better than to give her heart to him again. But when a stalker targets Beth and her daughter, will Trip be able to save them in time? When old friends reunite, danger threatens and sparks fly.

Excerpt (G)
Beth Corcoran watched warily as Trip Hall approached. Tall—about six foot three now that he was done growing, she thought, and lean as ever. He was limping and it took all her willpower not to run over and take the heavy plate and bottles of water out of his hands. She’d heard about his accident—Shirley was too small of a town for her not to—but this was the first time she’d laid eyes on him since he’d moved back home last winter. In fact, since she’d been working with Rhiannon to design a website for the bookstore, she actually knew far more about Trip—and the rest of the Hall family—than she wanted to.

“Lizzie? Is it really you?” He flashed her that mega-watt Hollywood smile which showed the one dimple in his left cheek, and handed her one of the bottles of water. After he set his plate down on a nearby stump, he held out his right hand for her to shake.

She took the water, shook his hand and smiled back, trying hard to ignore the miniscule tingle that ran up her arm at such a casual touch. Just one look in those sky-blue eyes of his had her heart going pitter-pat. She tried not to notice that his wavy black hair had been freshly trimmed, though that one rogue lock still fell across his forehead—just like it always had. She’d spent all of high school resisting the urge to smooth it back out of his face.

“It’s me, all right. Though I go by Beth these days. You’re looking good, Trip.” And wasn’t that the understatement of the year?

He shrugged, his broad shoulders rippling beneath the jacket of his western-cut suit. He and CJ had stood up with Fitz, and were all dressed up, while most of the guests were in what she called “Wyoming casual”—sweaters with denim or flowered skirts on the women, while the men wore pressed jeans and bolo ties topped by either western blazers or denim jackets.

“I’m alive. I’m walking. These days, that’s about as good as I can ask for. How have you been doing, Liz—Beth?”

“Oh, I’m fine,” she answered vaguely. It would be so easy to fall into those eyes and drown, to forget all the reasons she needed to steer clear of charming playboys. She chanced a look at his face, saw the new lines that bracketed his eyes, the thin white scar on his temple, and she allowed him a real smile. She was so damned glad he was here and alive. Even if he’d unintentionally broken her teenage heart, she’d never wanted him hurt. “I heard about your injuries last year. It’s good to see you up and about again.”

He nodded, giving her his trademark lopsided grin, the one that had haunted her dreams all through school.

“Thanks. But that’s the way it goes, I guess. Life throws you curveballs and you either swing or watch them go by. And if you’re smart, you learn a little something along the way. So here we are, older and hopefully wiser.”

She couldn’t stop the wry laugh that emerged as she nodded. “Yeah, that about sums it up, doesn’t it?”

“Mommy, why’d you stop?”

Beth looked down at her almost four-year-old daughter and realized she’d quit pushing the swing. “Sorry, kiddo. Mommy was just talking to an old friend.” She obediently gave Bailey’s bottom another gentle shove.

“She’s a beauty, just like her mom,” Trip offered warmly. “What’s her name?” The compliment rolled so smoothly off his practiced lips that Beth didn’t think he even knew he was doing it. Trip had always been able to effortlessly charm any woman from one to one hundred. That was what made him so dangerous. She was a grown-up now, with responsibilities. She couldn’t afford to fall under the hypnotic spell of Howard Hemingway Hall—better known as Triple H or Trip for short.

By now, though, Bailey was staring at the intruder with rapt curiosity. “My name’s Bailey,” she offered proudly. “What’s yours?”

“This is Mr. Hall, honey. He went to school with Mommy a long, long time ago.”
Trip laughed and gravely shook the little girl’s hand, making Beth’s heart twist even tighter.
“Pleased to meet you, Miss Bailey.” He straightened and turned to Beth. “It sure seems that way, doesn’t it? It’s only been fourteen years since graduation, but it seems like a hundred.”

If only he knew. Some of those years had dragged like centuries. But Beth pasted her polite social smile back in place. “I think Harper is trying to attract your attention.” She pointed across the park to where Trip’s oldest sister was collecting up members of the Hall family for the photographer. “It was nice seeing you again, Trip. Bye now.”

He grimaced and picked up his plate. “You too, Beth. See you around sometime.” He turned and limped away.

She muttered beneath her breath, “Not if I see you first.”

Find out more at

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger, Multi-Published Author Judith Rochelle!

The Oh Get A Grip crew is thrilled to welcome today's guest blogger, multi-published author, Judith Rochelle:

Vacation? Vacation? Not this one

Many years ago my father-in-law remarried and his new wife fame complete with two full-grown married children. And their children. The son was smart enough to live in Albuquerque but the daughter lived in Michigan, where we were living at the time. And the newlyweds thought it would be wonderful if---let’s call them dick and Jane---went on a vacation with my husband and me. Over Christmas. To Puerto Rico, where we already had made vacation plans.
Going on vacation with Dick and Jane was like traveling with—well, what can you say, for example, about a woman in her thirties who brags about buying her panties in the children’s department and they all have the day of the week on them.

So, okay. We rearrange our plans and we’re off on vacation. Right. Also, from Michigan to Miami we had their children who were being delivered to the grandparents for two weeks. We pick up Dick and Jane and their kids and head for the airport. Only to get there and realize Dick has left his wallet on his dresser. At home.

“I’ll be back before the plane leaves,:” he assures us.

“Sure,” we say. Meanwhile Jane and the kids are about to become hysterical.

Dick leaves us all at the airport and speeds off to retrieve his wallet. We have the pleasure of escorting to Miami three people who have never flow before and are hysterical the minute we enter the waiting area. Then they refuse to get on the plane until Dick gets there, but the plane is loading so we are now dragging the three of them, kicking and screaming, onto the plane. And as we pull away from the gate, there’s Dick, plastered to the window, looking out at the departing plane. Now there are some real hysterics to deal with.

We land in Miami as I’m about to slit my throat and hand the kids over to the grandparents while my husband tries to find out what happened to Dick-who it seems is now being routed through New York. At Christmas. And everyone insists on sitting with us in the airport until the plane for San Juan leaves.

So we get on the plane for San Juan, with only Jane by now, who proceeds to drink four glasses of wine because she’s so upset. Which we paid for. We land in San Juan and can’t find a cab to take us to our hotel which is too short a ride for them unless we pay double the fare. And of course, to make things better, when we go to check in, the one thing Dick and Jane were responsible for got screwed up. Instead of changing the reservations, they cancelled them.
Did you ever see a wilds woman screaming at the top of her lungs waving a confirmation in the air and turning the air blue with every profanity known to man? I think they gave us rooms just to get us out of the lobby.

Of course the restaurant isn’t open---it’s Christmas Eve---we haven’t had lunch OR dinner, and Jane is now not only hysterical but drunk. And Dick has not shown up. We enjoy a fabulous meal from the vending machines sitting in the lobby, because Jane won’t go to her room until Dick arrives, and she’s getting weepier by the minute.

We finally, at three in the morning, persuade her to go to her room and we are just settling into our beds when we hear Bam! Bam! Bam! next door. Dick has arrived! Yay!

From there things only got worse, including Jane hailing police cars as taxis because they had lights on top, and Dick taking them on a motorcycle ride to the rain forest, only to have Jane fall off and Dick not notice it for an hour.

So here’s my advice to you. Since you can’t choose your relatives, at least you can choose not to go on vacation with them.

Judith, can you tell us about one of your books?


Blurb: Lisa Mallory’s marriage from hell ended with her husband, Charles’s, unsolved murder. Once a suspect herself, she barely survived the scandal that erupted when his secret life was revealed. Four years later, her life finally back on track, her eight-year-old son is kidnapped and not returned, despite the ransom payment. Every public and private agency has failed to turn up clues to Jamie’s whereabouts or the identity of his kidnapper. Now she’s left with just one option- Ethan Caine, a friend of her brother’s and a burned-out Special Ops warrior for whom she has nothing but contempt. When he turns up evidence that Jamie is being held somewhere in Mexico, she insists on going with him, over his strong objections. But in the exotic environment of the lush Quintana Roo jungle, passion explodes between them, and they wonder if it’s possible they could dare to hope for the future.


Of course it was raining. How fitting, Lisa Taylor Mallory thought, as she shifted on the folding chair provided by the cemetery, carefully not to move out from under the umbrella the funeral home attendant held over her. Next to her, four-year-old Jamie snuggled closer to here, needing the assurance of his mother’s warmth.

Dr. Howard Devol, pastor of Alamo Baptist Church, under his own umbrella, was intoning passages from the Bible. He had already eulogized Charles to the point of sainthood. Lisa had clenched her fists and swallowed the nausea the insisted on rising at the back of her throat.
Let it be over. Please, please, let us just get this over with.

She let her gaze travel over the crowd of mourners. The cream of San Antonio society and the financial world gathered in their best funereal attire to mourn a man whose sins were swept in fire at the foot of a mountain. Everyone had come, afraid of the fallout if they stayed away. The abundance of black umbrellas nearly formed a canopy of the assemblage.

The funeral was for Jamie, for whom this had all been so frightening. He needed, even at his age, to have closure and known his father would be on a path to Heaven. He could say his prayers at night and feel he had a direct link to him.

Beside her, she felt her brother, Josh, squeeze her arm, a signal that said everything will be okay.

Okay wasn’t exactly the word she’d have chosen to describe the current state of her life. She clenched one gloved hand in her lap. No, okay, wasn’t even in the ball park.

At last the interminable ceremony was finished. Josh rose and nudged her to stand with Jamie. The pastor signaled her to come forward. With Josh’s arm supporting her, she stepped forward to the casket and took the white rose the pastor held out to her. She stared at the casket for a long moment, then dropped the rose on its mahogany surface.

In a voice so low only her brother heard it, she said, “Rot in hell, you son of a bitch.

Check out Judith's website at

Friday, June 13, 2008

Time to Play

The family vacation, that institution of American life, brings to mind a bevy of images, some good, some bad, but all memorable. Most of my vacations when I was young involved hitting the open road. The journey was often as exciting as the destination, sometimes more so. I watched the world through a dust covered window, music played softly in the background as we discussed points of interest along the way. We never had a firm schedule and if a roadside sign advertised something too good to miss, by golly we stopped to check it out.

I’ve explored vast underground caverns in Missouri and New Mexico, feed exotic animals in a drive through zoo though I can’t remember which state it was in, watched glassblowers and smithies exhibit their crafts in colonial settings in Williamsburg and Branson, visited countless amusement parks scattered across the country and even ate an entire meal with my bare hands as I watched knights duel in California. I could go on, but the gist is that the experiences were plentiful and widely varied.

Some trips were memorable for all the wrong reasons. I nearly drowned at Rehoboth beach when I was a wee tyke. I got caught in the undertow and it was just a stroke of luck that I was swept close enough to someone’s leg that they snagged me on my way out. I’ve also perturbed a mound of fire ants while on a camping trip and paid for the clumsiness with days of itching and pain. I’ve tipped a canoe and lost nearly an entire days worth of supplies down a river.

There always seemed to be at least one mishap, but it was never enough to dampen my spirits or to cause me not to get antsy with anticipation as the next trip drew close. I loved spending time with my family and it always seemed like my family as a whole smiled more, hugged more and laughed more when we were on our little excursions.

Even though I’m grown with a family of my own now, I still succumb to the excitement of planning out our next adventure. For the last seven years, I’ve had the extreme fortune to take two vacations a year: One just for adults and one for the whole family. Before too many feathers get ruffled by the seeming exclusion, I must point out that though my son lives with us, he is the best thing to come from my first marriage and thus subject to all of the visitation requirements of divorced parents. During the summer he always spends a week or two with his biological mom and that’s when we have the parent vacation.

My son is only ten, but he as already been to the balloon festival in Albuquerque (which is really something to see and words alone can’t do it justice), the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York, the beach (in Ocean City, Padre Island, and Delaware), Worlds of fun and Oceans of Fun in Kansas City, Six Flags in Texas and handful of random road trips just for the sake of seeing someplace he’s never been before where we toured our neighboring states. If all goes as planned, he’ll get to add his first cruise to the list by this time next year.

As for vacations for my wife and I, they vary depending on the mood when we select them. Sometimes we like to go down to Cozumel. Other times we head out to Vegas (or Reno, Tahoe etc.). Last year we went on an eight day Caribbean cruise.

One year we decided to take a week long road trip. We picked a few cities we’d like to see in Texas, loaded up the Trailblazer and set off without a care in the world. We hung out on 6th street in Austin, spent a day at the Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, played at Fiesta Texas in San Antonio before checking out the River Walk, visited a few museums in Houston, became charter members of Red Lobster in Nacogdoches, and wound up in Shreveport, La at luxury suite at one of their casinos.

This year we won’t take a second vacation. My wife started a new job in January and it just isn’t possible to take the extra time off. It came down to one or the other, so of course we chose the family vacation. It looks like we will spend the week in Texas again, this time focusing around the Dallas area with visits to Dave & Buster’s, of course multiple excursions to Six Flags and whatever else happens to catch our fancy along the way.

I love vacations and I’m always counting down the days until my next one.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What the ....?

Well I’d been waffling all week about what to write for this topic. I’ve had a variety of vacation experiences in my life, from the fabulous to the horrific, but nothing was leaping to mind. Then on television tonight I heard a word that made it easy. Yep, this one sent the stupid-meter soaring higher than the price of filling up the gas tank.


The media has decided that this is a great new thing, to bring families closer together and encourage participation in our communities.

Bull Puckey.

What it means is, “We’re too broke to go anywhere, but we can’t get cash for our vacation days. So we’ll take the time off and stick around home. We’ll do some local stuff so it only sucks little rocks instead of big ones.” Don’t even get me started on the other word they used, “home-tel.” That one’s just too moronic to contemplate. I was dashing to the bathroom when I heard that and I really hope it was a spoof.

So I guess my summer plans are suddenly trendy. Last summer was a big vacation, and this year, with astronomical gas prices, there’s just no hope of getting the hell out of Dodge. So, yes, we’ve talked about ways to make the summer suck a little less. Our kids are teens, so their idea of entertainment revolves more around friends than around anything else anyway, but yeah, we’d decided to make it a point to take in a couple of small Renaissance Fairs, and a few local museums that we’ve overlooked in recent years. Maybe let each of the boys drag a friend along, just so they have a good time too. And to think, we figured all this out without knowing there was a word for it. However did we manage that?

This is a new word for a very old concept. It’s called making do, people. And it’s how ordinary folks always have and always will cope with reality. Obviously, the pundits and politicians who are telling us how great this is never had to sit on the back porch with a homemade margarita and pretend it was the beach. Or convince a couple of kids that the sprinkler is as much fun as the water park.
On the other hand? It IS kind of cool to rediscover forgotten treasures in your own part of the world. Detroit has a world-class art museum, and my kids have never seen it, at last not that they remember. It’s free one day a month. Guess which day we’ll be going? Minor league baseball is pretty cheap, and it's actually more fun to watch, because it isn’t so slowed down for television. And when you come down to it, time is a bigger investment than money, anyway. Doing something, anything, makes more memories than sitting by the pool and having someone bring you pretty pink drinks.

Or so I will be telling myself all summer long.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New York, New York

We didn't do a lot of vacations when I was very young because, well, we were poor. Didn't even think about vacations really. We DID do a little cabin in the country once but that wasn't a big deal because we lived in the country anyway. Nothing new or different in that.

It wasn't until many years later, after I married, that I took any kind of significant vacation and we've always had good ones. Cancun, Mexico three or four times, St. Thomas Virgin Islands (verrrry beautiful) three or four times, and many, many trips to South Padre Island, Texas. I really loved those trips and we still try to go once a year. This is a cool trip because we can actually DRIVE. Long drive but not bad and we're still in Texas. Normally, we'll rent a condo by the beach, hit the grocery store for breakfast, lunch and snack-around stuff, I bring my laptop and we dine of fresh seafood every night. Pretty damn wonderful and very laid back. Laid back is my favorite kind of vacation.

Probably the vacations I remember most, oddly enough, didn't include the entire family. My kids have always been tennis players and up until a year ago, my daughter was a national and state ranked junior player. We've traveled everywhere for tennis tournaments and have always been fans of the sport. Every summer for the past four years, I have traveled to New York City to attend the US Open in Flushing Meadows. Quite a trip. I've attended with my son, once with my daughter and son, with my husband and daughter, and once more with just my daughter. I love, love, love this trip and one day, I hope to do it again. We've always stayed at the same hotel in Times Square and for a country girl, all those lights dazzle me. The giant billboards advertising the Broadway Shows, the honking horns, the throngs of people make my head spin but I love the place.

Now, I'm not saying I'd like to live there. A little bit of "speed" in things is fine for a few days but then I'm ready to get back to the real world and a pace that lets me catch my breath.

It's funny. If you go to a place often enough, you can actually set up sort of routine. We usually made three trips to Flushing Meadows for tennis on each visit to NY. Talk about a facility. Very reminiscent of Disney World in it's cleaniliness and beauty. The fans who come from all over the world are friendly and the atmosphere is casual. Very fun. Hot, but fun. And, of course, the rest of the trip is spent watching Broadway Shows and SHOPPING. One rainy day, we hit the ritzy shopping areas there but we agreed that China Town is a blast for that sort of thing. We overload on "real" designer purses (wink wink), "real" designer jewelry, and all sorts of things. The atmosphere is crazy, manic, the bargaining intense.

On the downside, New York is a very expensive place. I've never in my life paid $25 for a burger..fries are extra. Craziness. And I tend to prefer taxis to the subway and that can get expensive, too. about gross. Those subways are the nastiest places in the world. I quickly learned to carry hand sanitizers in my purse for the occasions when it was necessary to ride in one of those things. I can understand the economy but I'm not a fan of filth! Yep. Taxis are the way to go when visiting New York.

So yeah, we've gone to lots of places over the past twenty-odd years but New York City stands out in my mind as a fun place to visit. For a rural-dweller it offers a little taste of something different.

Next one my list? Umm...Alaska, England, Italy, and Ireland. And maybe at least ONE more trip to NY City.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ahhhh Vacation

Ironically some of my best memories of vacation were the times I wasn't doing anything special at all. Like driving across country for fourteen hours and trying not to start something with my brother. Although, there was a very interesting moment on a long distance vacation I won't soon forget.

I was bored out of my mind and we were in two separate cars. I think we were about to move to Argentina from Georgia and were taking the "good" car to my grandparents for them to have. Anyway, on the way, mom was occupied and I decided to get creative. I grabbed my jump rope and quickly tied up my wrists and ankles. Then I lifted my hog-tied limbs to the window. With a panic stricken look and mouthing the words "help me! help me!" I floundered for a few passing cars. I got more than a couple of double takes and then decided I'd better stop. Mom didn't know about that dandy til years later. Wasn't pleased.

My favorite memory was a trip we took to the Black Forest in Germany. We were living in Saudi Arabia and it was less expensive to tour Europe than fly home to the States. So we went. I remember the half mile walk to the beginning of the forest and my discussion with Dad that it seemed impossibly longer than half a mile and was it really more than a mile if your legs were shorter like mine were. Then we discussed how many feet were in a mile to which I insisted Quinn was lying. He wasn't.

We stepped foot into the woods and there was no one else around on the path. The trees shot straight up, high into the air with few branched on the way. Mom said the canopy blocked out the light which is how the forest got its name. Quinn said that what the Black Forest needed was a little White Out (liquid correction fluid). Mom laughed, repeated the joke and said how clever he was. He beamed. I sulked because I wanted to be clever too so then pondered how I could make Mom laugh. Got nowhere.

At one point I had to "go" and Mom introduced me to squatting. I was not so talented at it and instead of hearing of my cleverness, I got a disgusted look. I laughed anyway and sloshed with soggy shoes through the woods. Later for lunch, mom had made special Nutella sandwiches. As an impromptu thing, she hid them in tree crooks, between rocks, in a tree hole (yes they were in plastic baggies) and we scavenged for them. Best. Memory. Ever. Mom is still surprised that this memory is so vivid for me. It was a great day.

Ha! Just thought of another. Quinn had graduated. Mom, Dad, and I went to Hawaii for vacation and SCUBA diving. We were miffed that at Pearl Harbor the Japanese tourists wanted to take our pictures over the wreck. We got into the car and drove to the top of a volcano look out. More tourists. On the way down, Mom had to "go" (gee there's a theme here). Dad pulled over. Mom opened her door and mine to provide coverage. She checked both ways and "went" just as two tour buses rounded the bend, stopped and cameras flashes poppoppop! taking pictures of her going. Dad and I busted a gut laughing.

Kinda like the time I almost drowned because I was laughing so hard when we all went SCUBA diving in Indonesia. Dad and Quinn were in one boat, Mom and I were in the other. She was so tired from diving that she could not haul herself into the boat. With two Indonesian men pulling, one on each arm, she finally flopped belly first onto the small deck, butt in air. Dad snapped pictures. She had tears of laughter streaming down her cheeks and joked about being a beached whale. How we hadn't expected to see whales on this trip. I hung onto the boat edge for dear life cackling and Quinn fell back into the water gulping mouthfuls.

Vacations as an adult are so different now. They aren't the same carefree chuckle-fests they used to be but we strive to make them special for the kids anyway. We hug a lot. We laugh. We create games on road trips which they beg to play again and again. We don't have the means to travel the world, but the family walks to the park, picnics in the backyard, and even house cleaning as a family have provided us memories which are truly special.

This summer will be no exception. We move this week. And after we unpack the beds and kitchen, we are hopping back into the car and driving to Texas where we will see Mom and Dad. They will take them all over the place and then we drive up to Minnesota to visit with MIL and the girls' only surviving great-grandparent, George (they've lost three this year). On our way back home, we will visit their godparents in Iowa, dear friends of ours. Upon returning, Scott will be installed as a vicar and the girls gear up for the year 'round school system. Gonna be busy, but I see ample room to create memories. Don't you?


Monday, June 9, 2008

Vacation? We get a vacation? Are you Sure?

That's pretty much how I felt for most of my married life. Vacations were mostly camping out at family reunions--camping out with four kids--in a tent. Um, well we usually had a good time. Mostly. Except for the time that a tornado passed us by about three miles away. Of course the rain did not pass by! Since we were camping in northeast Oklahoma... you know that area that's been tornado alley this year?... well, you can imagine that it was quite exciting.

Camping out is a wonderful experience for everyone except Mom. Dad and the kids play, fish, swim, or whatever. And Mom cooks. Mom cleans. Mom goes to the laundromat with the wet sleeping bags after the rains so they are dry for the next night. Mom washes dishes in a tiny pan with water heated over the stove. AND Mom trots half way across the camp ground to the restrooms because inevitably it is that time of the month when the family camps out!

Other than that, it's all good. Right?

Anyway, the time came when my house hunk conceded that we were past the camping out stage. And that's been very, very nice. We now stay at hotels. They're air conditioned. They have indoor plumbing, hot showers, and wonder of wonders, usually have breakfast included. Ah, civilization.

But you know, there were some good times. And camping enabled us to travel, leave home, spend some time as a family without the everyday stresses at home. One summer we traveled 3300 miles in three weeks, camping somewhere new every night (four kids, youngest was barely a year old). It was certainly interesting. We saw the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, my grandfather in Arizona, took part in a family reunion in Oklahoma, and finally limped into our driveway with $4.72 to our name. Now that's a vacation.

By the way, the picture is from that trip...taken at the Grand Canyon on a chilly, rainy day when the temps were in the sixties. Don't we look like we're having fun?


Sunday, June 8, 2008


She is pregnant. He had just saved her from a fire in her house, rescuing her by carrying her out of the house into her front yard, then he continued to fight the fire.

When he finally got done putting the fire out,
he sat down to catch his breath and rest.

A photographer from the Charlotte , North Carolina news-
paper, noticed her in the distance looking at the fireman.

He saw her walking straight toward the firefighter
and wondered what she was going to do.
As he raised his camera, she came up to the tired man who had just saved her life and the lives of her babies and kissed him just as the photographer snapped this photograph.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Guest Blogger: Anita Birt

Today the Oh Get a Grip! crew welcomes guest blogger, Cerridwen Press author, Anita Birt!


I've been a reader since I first learned how to sound out printed letters and link them into words. I was also a devious child. I had and still have a very good memory. My mother thought I was reading from a children's story book but I was pretending. I had memorized the whole thing. It had pictures and text and that made it easy to remember.

How and when did I decide to write seriously? Here's how it happened. My husband and I have known the Franciscan Sisters of The Eucharist for years. Their small convent is located at Bridal Veil, Oregon close by the Columbia River. I was walking the grounds with Mother Mary Michael on one of our visits and I said. "Someone should write the history of this house." And Mother Michael said. "Why don't you?" I had never written a book nor done the kind of research required to put together the history of the house. It was built in 1917 as a summer home by a wealthy couple. Little miracles happened along the way that helped me fill in the history.

If you wonder how two Canadians living in Toronto met the Sisters you'll have to read my book – or ask me! My book is called The House at Bridal Veil. Used copies are available at and ABE books. Check my web site if you're interested in seeing the picture of the house, (it is gorgeous) a little blurb and a map.

Having written a book, what should I do with my idle computer? I decided to try writing romance. Looked easy. I wrote a fantastic story, sent it off to Harlequin and waited for the check to arrive in the mail. My book was rejected but nothing daunted I joined Romance Writers of America and the local chapter. I attended conferences, workshops and joined a critique group. Yes, I learned to write and have had five romance novels accepted by Cerriwden Press.

What keeps me motivated when sales suck? I am fortunate. I'm not trying to earn a living from my writing so when sales suck one month, they usually are better the following month. I don't expect huge returns on my writing investment. I write because I want to. I like creating stories. But it would be nice to hit the New York Times Best Seller List. Dream on, Anita.

I've never suffered writer's block. My present work in progress is a historical romance.
I have decided to take extra time with it. I know where it's going and how it will end. Getting there is half the fun. I'm into the middle now, a critical point. I also have two contemporary romances finished and ready for revision.

Now Anita, can you tell us a little about your latest book?


When Ellie Paxton accepted the position of Nanny with Computer Skills to care for three month old, Nicki Blesnicoff she cheerfully moved to her employer's mansion located deep in the Cascade Mountains in Washington. She'd save money, rescue her sinking bank balance and revive her credit cards. Private re-hab to treat her shop-a-holic problem.

What she hadn't factored into her new job were threats of rape, torture and death by armed thugs who invaded the mansion during the absence of Nicki's parents. A city girl not given to feats of derring-do, Ellie wrapped Nicki in a soft blanket and escaped with him into a dense, terrifying forest. At midnight.

As dawn light filtered through the trees, Jack Merano and his two tracking dogs found Ellie huddling with the baby. A nanny and a baby. What could be more innocently appealing? Rescuing her and the bay from the dangerous forest was the easy part but soon enough Jack learned there was a price on Ellie's head and a master criminal stalking her.

Too Young to Die is out now at Cerridwen Press. Click here or on the cover above for more information.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Life

I’m a writer. I have always been and Gods willing, I will always be. I am driven by voices and powered by demons. All are purged from my system when I shape pixels into words or put pen to paper. Below are a few observations from my personal journey to publication.

You have to develop a relatively thick skin early on if you hope to survive the induction process. Separation between you and your work is the only way to maintain your sanity through the multitude of rejections that seem to mark the beginning of most of our careers.

The one publisher who says yes, definitely makes up for the throngs who said no before them. Even then, you can’t be too emotionally vested in your manuscript. Why? Because the first time you see it again after acceptance, it will likely be bleeding to death. The editorial process can be a shock, particularly the first time around. Yes, it’s an arduous process, but the end result is not only a better book to give to the public, but a better knowledge of what does and doesn’t pass for good writing. If you can take that knowledge and apply it to subsequent books, you’ll find that your next foray into the revision process will be much easier.

Be proud of what you accomplished, but don’t be surprised if it falls in the hands of someone who, though clearly blind to your evident brilliance and top notch artistic style, thinks your book is less than stellar. You can’t please all the people all the time. Hell, you can’t even please all the people some of the time. If you’re lucky, you will at least please some of the people some of the time. These are the ones that will become your fan base. Without them, we are just writing into the void. It’s the loyal readers who will keep us going in the face of bad reviews and wan ratings.

We need more than readers to keep us afloat though. A network of likeminded friends and colleagues is a must. Every career needs a support group, people to turn to who truly understand the problems you’re having and quite possibly have the insight to help you get through them.

Also, I feel obliged to remind any aspiring writers out there to be careful where you place your trust. There are sharks in them there waters. Before you sign a contract with an agent or publisher, be sure they are on the up and up. Scam artists abound on the fringes of our wonderful industry. Do your research.

I could go on, but I feel a bit as if I’m just reiterating the points already so eloquently stated by my fellow writers on this blog. Perhaps, I should end with a poem with a message that sums up everything I’ve discussed above, but hopefully you will find a bit more entertaining.

A Writer's Journey
I answer the call
From my inner voice.
When the muse tickles my ear,
I have no choice,
But to put pen to paper, fingers to keys.
And so, the journey begins
With eyes so bright.
Innocence abounds
As my imagination takes flight.
The masterpiece takes shape
And my mind reaches for the stars.
I envision interviews with Leno
And my prose read in bars.
The book is complete.
I hold it up with trembling hands.
The only thing left
Is for it to find its way to the fans.
I drop queries in the mail
And hope for the best.
My patience and resolve,
Will soon be put to the test.
Still the fantasy remains.
I will be the next big thing.
My fame will surpass
Anne Rice or even Stephen King.
Days, weeks, and months go by
Without so much as a word.
At last, I receive a letter
Address, written in my hand.
It is addressed to dear author
And they're not buying.
Well, what do they know?
I will be published in no time,
Just you wait and see.
The responses picked up speed,
I will give them that.
I had a dozen rejections,
In no time flat.
Don't let it get you down kid,
You've written a best seller.
We just have to find it a home,
Get it in front of the right feller.
My innocence has been replaced
With apprehension.
My sleep is still filled,
With the first timer’s dreams.
My words will be read
And hearts will be moved,
Emotions will be stirred.
With a single book,
I could change the world.
Someone, somewhere will read my words
And will be inspired to do great things.
I dream of a series of books,
crossing all genres.
I dream of books on CD
And book signings,
With throngs of people waiting
For a signature or at least a glimpse.
I dream of an adoring public
That falls so hard for my characters,
They become a household name.
All of this and more I dream.
No matter what happens,
I will always have my dreams.
My dreams are not goals,
They are fantasies and as such,
They will never be crushed.
I am a slave to the muse,
A whore for her voice.
I am a man that hears voices.
I argue with myself
And put it on paper.
I am a visionary,
A dreamer,
A fiend for the written word.
I am a writer.

And with that, I wish you all a happy weekend.