Thursday, November 24, 2011

Meet Alfonso

When Alfonso first told me his name, he wasn't sporting the beautiful pink blooms you now see. I thought I might have heard wrong. No, he assured me, he's a he and his  name is Alfonso. He likes to cross dress around Thanksgiving. He's supposed to be a xmas cactus, but, like me, he doesn't like xmas. So he blooms at Thanksgiving.

As you can see his blooms are glorious and pink. He's quite vain. He's also a player. He will generally find a way to make us move him close to the lady of his choice. He caused a split between the happy couple, Oscar and Begonia by dropping a leaf into Begonia's pot and conceiving a love baby.

He won't let you see it, but right now he's depressed. He's the only plant that has been moved indoors. All the ladies he loves are still outside on the porch. He's being strong and decking himself in his pink finery as if nothing were wrong, but I know better.

In her book, How I Write, Janet Evanovich says that she gave Stephanie Plum the hamster, Rex, so that there would be a heartbeat in her apartment. Something to talk to when she came home. I've toyed with the idea of doing the same thing with plants; creating a character who shares all her secrets with her plants.

Apparently my aloe plant, Gladys, who has produced many generations of children and has progeny in many homes throughout my family, knows something juicy about Alfonso. She won't tell me what, but she's the only lady I know who can resist his charms.

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was good. Lots of food. My grandkids and I finished up their quilt blocks. Well, Kat still has a little bit of fabric painting she's going to do, but, my part, supervising the designing, cutting and sewing is done. And no one got burned using the iron. That's a win. The quilt blocks have to be postmarked by 5pm on Dec 2 and on their way to the National Quilt Museum so finishing them is a relief. My gkids have participated in the School Block Challenge for several years now. They can partipate until they are eighteen by which time they'll have quite a few blocks towards a quilt.

Do you have any plants? Do they talk to you? To each other? Any ideas about how I can get Gladys to reveal Alfonso's secret?

Dear sweet generous lady, thanks for the box of books. I read Say No To Joe by Lori Foster* in the last couple of days. It was the fun escape I love from books. I don't know why but I don't have your email address. And being technilogically lame, I don't have the default email thing loaded correctly so when I go on your blog and try to click on your email, it won't let me email you. So I'm saying thanks here! I'm never so happy as when I get a box of books so guess who I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving - you, Barb N, you!

*I originally had this creditted to the wrong Lori. My apologies to both Lori Foster, who did write it, and Lori Wilder, who didn't. My bad. Sorry.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Erotica Romance Novel: Good Girls Don't, Author: Victoria Dahl

A mini rave and a mini rant AND AN UPDATE

Victoria Dahl is good reading y'all. She can make you forget about the above travesty. She's not quite the erotica that is Erin McCarthy, but she's not an innocent kiss before riding off into the sunset, either.
I'm reading the Donovan Brothers Brewery series, 1 - Good Girls Don’t, 2 - Bad Boys Do, and 3 - Real Men Will. The characters are lovable. The plots are fun. And there's a kilt-wearing bartender. What more could you want for an enjoyable escape?

I don't care what you believe about Obamacare, the correct reaction to United States Supreme Court Justices, Scalia and Thomas, having dinner with the law firm bringing the case against Obamacare to the high court, should be outrage.
I don't care if it is illegal or if it is an offense against some written down set of ethics for them, it's wrong, and they know it's wrong. Or do they? Are they really so corrupt that they don't know a conflict of interest when they see it?
And it sets a precedent that is very ugly. Or does it? Have they been behaving in this manner all along? It would sure explain some things.
Once upon a time we trusted those people who had made it to the level of Supreme Court Justice to know the difference between right and wrong and to act accordingly. I guess those days are over.
Do we need to make stricter laws governing them now? Are they impeachable? Because if they are - let's do it. If a 90,000 page report can be written, and impeachment charges brought against Bill Clinton for getting a blow job in the oval office, impeaching Scalia and Thomas for this outrage should be easy.

UPDATE:  I may have been a little hasty in saying Victoria Dahl isn't erotica. The books got progressively steamier and the third one had me frequently fanning myself and saying, "oh, my."
I thoroughly enjoyed them but I don't want to mislead anyone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Someone dropped a dime on me

What is a 'sounding board'?
sound·ing board
  1. somebody to give preliminary opinion: a person or group that gives feedback on preliminary ideas before they are considered for further development
That, dear readers, is what you are being used for today.

Some of you are familiar with a witch named Julie whose followers, me among them, are known as Julielanders. She pulls a card from various tarot-type decks everyday. On November 5th wickedly wise woman Julie pulled the card Ten of Wands. It's now November 14th and the dimes are still everywhere. Read this quote for the significance of that:

"Ten of Wands  ~  burdens, manageable and not.
Tens are cyclical, the coming and going of our life cycles.  The new chapters in our lives are often marked by 10s.  When you find dimes or Tens keep showing up, this is a sign that we are about to turn the page and move on to something new.
Wands are the brilliance of new ideas and inspirational bursts.  Those ”out of the blue” brainstorms are perfect examples of Wand strength and radiance.
Usually we’d say that 10 of Wands is about being overburdened, but I’m thinking this is more indicative of carrying the workload we need to, and balancing that with what else is going on.  We can shoulder our own sticks and help others when they need us to, all the while being aware of not allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed.
Like yesterday’s oracle message, this one is telling us that what we first see may not be the first impression we think it is.  We can see around the load we are toting as long as we are aware of our path ahead of us.  There is also a destination in this one.
Farther down this road there is something to look forward to, “look forward” is the key phrase here.  Hold carefully to what we need to cart along, not letting our sticks block our view or feel like a burden.  We shoulder these responsibilities for a reason, not because we are forced to but because we are capable of it."

So - the dimes - they appear to be multiplying in my coin purse like pregnant women at the end of "cheap romance novels with their spines battered down*." Twice I've gotten out of the car to look down at a dime laying on the ground by my feet and just today I wandered into the spare bedroom I rarely go in to find a dime staring up at me from the rug.

Allright already. It's enough to make even an atheist like me, listen. And that's the point, isn't it? I have given myself a message.

Here's what I think is happening. I had a very vague idea in my head that I would try to write novels as a means of retiring. I can live on ten thousand dollars or so a year quite easily and that doesn't seem so hard to accomplish as a novelist.

Then publishing went into chaos. I don't do chaos well. I'm a sit-in-the-corner reading, while I wait-for-the-dust-to-settle, kind of person.
And I kept reading things that successful writers had written warning that you can't make a living writing and you should keep your day job.
Well, I didn't have a day job. I had a night job that allowed me to write. That facilitated me having time to write my novel, Hungry Ghosts, which I posted as Friday blogs here for about 4 months until it finished.
When my night job ended I decided the thing to do was get a day job. That has a 401k plan to help one retire. That I would work at for ten or fifteen years until I retire.
I took on my current sucky job. Which isn't permanent. They made noises that it would become permanent but I've come to see that was most likely a lie.
My next thing was to decide to just use this sucky job so I could find a less sucky job that was permanent so I can start that 401k deal.

Then I started really missing writing time. And I have a killer idea for a novel and no time to write it.

Then the dimes started coming.

"a sign that we are about to turn the page and move on to something new... brilliance of new ideas and inspirational burst..."out of the blue” brainstorms"
I'm thinking the new thing I need to embrace is really an old one. I need to write a novel that is publish-ready and pursue publishing it.

"what we first see may not be the first impression we think it is" I need to see this job as the spending money, grandkids money, paycheck it is and nothing more. No retirement fund. No stepping stone. Just a paycheck while I'm writing and learning how to get myself published.

"We can see around the load we are toting as long as we are aware of our path ahead of us...Farther down this road there is something to look forward to." It was not working for me to think of this or some other sucky job, as a ten to fifteen year plan. Maybe if I think of it as the placeholder until the day I make money from a novel sale, it will be easier to make time to write.

I will probably still write one more novel as a chapter a week post on this blog, cause I learned so much from doing that; but eventually I need to give up my amateur status, pull up my betty panties and pursue being published.

Sounding board - am I deluding myself? Do you see major flaws in my thinking?

(And, don't bother with the Suze Orman-type, you must have all this in place for retirement, lectures, cause, as I said earlier, my circumstances are such that I can live on ten thousand dollars a year.)

*From the song - You Don't Make It Easy, Babe by Josh Ritter

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Romance Novel: Take A Chance On Me, Author: Susan Donovan

Do you stare at men's crotches?

On September 27th I posted a blog about a trilogy of novels Susan Donovan wrote centered around four ladies who formed a dog-walking club. I enjoyed all three books.

So while waiting for some new books to roll in from amazon (friend to those of us in rural areas), I rifled through the shelves of the local library for any other books my Ms Donovan.

Y'all this woman is a trip. I just love her. Her books are kind of like Erin McCarthy - if you've read many posts by me you know I love her, too - except replace the sexy single women heroines with funny, sexy soccer moms and replace the race car drivers with men in equally dangerous careers except funnier and more dysfunctional.

She's over the top in a good way. I'm going to give you a little taste of two of the books but really all of them I've read so far are devourable. And I don't dare say these two are my favorites because I have two more to read and they may be even better.

In Take a Chance On Me by Ms Donovan, Emma Jenkins is an animal behaviorist and Thomas Tobin comes to her with an ugly, crazy-high-strung, funny, lovable dog. The nature of the dog reflects the nature of Thomas except, of course, Thomas is handsome and sexy, not ugly.

(Talking about the fireflies they're watching)
     "You've got to hand it to the little bastards." Thomas caught her eye. "They're out there in their flashiest outfits, facing the possibility of rejection, giving it their best shot. Those little bugs have guts."
     Emma had been looking at his crotch--no doubt about it. This was an excellent development, but Thomas didn't quite see how he was going to capitalize on it.
Do women really stare at men's crotches? Cause I've never had the nerve to do that but the women in Donovan's novels always do. In fact, I don't really remember wanting to very often. Is there something wrong with me?

(Thomas walking his dog, Hairy)

     Thomas gave a few nervous glances around the street. He couldn't believe he was walking down a public sidewalk with a dog in a sweater. Dear God, there couldn't be a single thing more humiliating in this entire world.
     Unless, of course, Hairy had been out here in his maxi pad. Thomas sighed. Walking around the house with that thing tied around his waist, Hairy looked like a--well, he looked like an ugly dog in a Kotex. Thomas had laughed his ass off at first, but soon discovered the crazy scheme had saved him about three cleanup jobs in one evening alone.

(Thomas has some trust issues)

"And God, here's the deal Emma--you can do whatever you want to me now--poison my cornflakes--"
She was already laughing.
"--put a bomb under the hood of my car, or ground glass in my popcorn, or booby-trap the basement steps, and baby, I'd never see it coming because I love you so much it's killing me."
Emma finished laughing and kissed his cheek. "Or I could just put all that creative energy into loving you--did that ever occur to you, Thomas?"

It's a book to read when you want to laugh and have your heart warmed. Or you could read Public Displays of Affection by Ms Donovan because it has the same laugh enducing, heart heating-up effects.

Charlotte Trasker is the quintessential soccer mom and Joe Bellacera is the quintessential tough-guy, undercover DEA agent. But when it comes to sex, Charlotte is hiding more than Joe.

     Charlotte put away her poetry journal. She removed her convenient handheld lover from its soft cotton storage sleeve. Then she made that mysterious battery-powered journey through memory and fantasy until she arrived at the only kind of release she'd known since that perfect afternoon thirteen years ago, in the arms of the man with the greedy hands, the insistent mouth, the endless dark eyes that swallowed her soul. 
That's right. Our soccer mom writes erotic poetry and pleasures herself.

There's an out-of-control scene that is so much fun to read where Joe sees Charlotte through binoculars. They end up in a tent in her backyard and he asks her what she was writing. She tells him erotic poetry and he wants to hear a poem.

"I want to hear one. The hottest one you've ever written. Give it to me."...
"How about something short and to the point?"...
"It's called Nice Pants."...
"I'm listening."...
She rose up so he could get at anything he might want; then she shouted out;
"Nice pants.
Take them off."
And that is the magic of Susan Donovan. I reccommend that you read everything she's written or will write. Cheri On Top is out recently. I read it. Susan hasn't disappointed me yet. It is to be followed by I Want Candy which comes out Feb. 28, 2012. COT is the story of Cherise and IWC is the story of her friend, Candace.

I live for adding another book to my ever-growing, to-be-read list. Thank you, Susan Donovan.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mystery Novel: Smokin Seventeen, Author: Janet Evanovich

Will I be switching to Diesel only?

I thought I didn't have a subject for a blogpost tonight but then one came to me and I groaned. Cause I just haven't wanted to acknowledge it.

Those of you who haven't read Smokin Seventeen by Janet Evanovich and don't like spoilers should skip this.

And those of you who have various complaints like - why can't she just choose one man - or why don't the characters grow up - or why does she keep doing the same things in all the books; like blowing up Steph's cars - this really isn't for you either.

All those complaints have been aired ad nauseum and, I wish this wouldn't invalidate anyones feelings, but they frankly bore me. Evanovich wrote a book called How I Write where she lays out the formula (though I don't remember her coming right out and calling it that) that she uses when she writes. It's a legitimate formula that starts with her choosing a crime. And it's a formula that has produced many books that have given me great joy.

Which is why I was so surprised at 17. See in books 1-3 the characters were circling each other and sizing each other up and getting to know each other. Then in 4 Stephanie did the deed with Joe. And in 5 & 6 she played with Ranger but there was a line she never crossed because of Joe. In 7 Joe officially broke up with her and Ranger pushed her and they had sex. And it was good. But it was once. Then she went back to Joe. And for the next 9 books, through many compromising positions with Ranger, she again never crossed that line because of Joe.

So in books 4 through 16 there is lots of actual sex, or at least allusions to it, and with the exception of that one incident in book 7, it's all with Joe. Twelve books of sex with Joe. One actual completed sex act with Ranger.

Because Stephanie loves Joe. And she knows he loves her. And even when they're fighting, she considers Joe her boyfriend. And she knows Ranger is never going to have a real relationship with her, even though in his own way he loves her, too. And Joe does have a relationship with her. It's dysfunctional but it's a relationship.

In book 17 all of that changes. Evanovich suddenly casually tosses Stephanie into bed with Ranger as if it's been happening all along. As if it isn't a violation of the character she herself has created. The rules she made for all of us to follow in the world according to Plum, and then casually broke as if they meant nothing.

And I felt betrayed. See that's what this is really all about. The strange relationship between reader and writer and how in some ways it involves trust. Even though Evanovich is a woman whom I've never met, she hurt me. She broke my trust.

And now instead of looking forward to Explosive Eighteen to come out on the 22nd of this month with my usual innocent, open-hearted, longing, I have walls up. Will she betray me even further? Has she set the characters I love on a course that I won't want to follow?

I know she has a right to do with her characters what she wants.

It's like when Joni Mitchell went from folk to jazz. She had a right to evolve that way. But I had a right to say I don't enjoy listening to her new jazz style. On the other hand when Bob Dylan went from acoustic to electrical and people had fits, I barely noticed and continued to love him.

Evanovich has a right to do with her characters what she wants. And I have a right to react how I want. I just hope she doesn't do something that so goes against the rules she has established with these characters that I no longer want to read them.

Cause I would count it as a loss and I don't want to associate this series with loss.

At least with Evanovich we do have Diesel to look forward to. Wicked Business comes out next June and it will be fun.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Romance Suspense Novel: On Thin Ice, Author: Anne Stuart, Young Adult Novel: Withering Tights, Author: Louise Rennison, Fiction Novel: Jacaranda Blue, Author: Joy Dettman

Happy Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos.

Y'all this blogpost is about books I've put off reading for some stupid reason or another.
I figured out I can load a free kindle app and read kindle books on my pc. So I purchased my first kindle book; On Thin Ice. Oh how I love Anne Stuart. Especially the Ice Series! This one was sooo good. I keep going back and reading bits over again. She plans on writing more Ice books!!!! If she's writing 'em, I'm reading 'em.

Flossie said, "She does seem nice, but I wanted to squeeze her head, and my head-squeezing instincts are usually good." from Withering Tights by Louise Rennison

Withering Tights I saw on London Mabel's blog for weeks but I took forever to check it out of the library. Then I rechecked it twice and now it's overdue. I read it finally and it is so funny and heartwarming. I don't usually read young adult books but I'm glad I read this one.
The main character, a 14 year old named Tallulah, is endearing in her genuine awkward teen-agerness. She speaks frequently of snogging. It took me a while to figure out it means kissing, not sex. I love the title's play on words and the book lives up to it's title.

If I had time to write a real novel truths blog there are many great quotes in this book. Damn sucky time-draining job. Course, tomorrow is payday...
Some time back Curious Miss Kris sent me a book cause I won a contest on her blog. (Ah, envy looks so cute on you, Delia.) The title of the book is Jacaranda Blue by Joy Dettman. The subject matter would normally have put off this romance-genre-loving-woman but the book was good and it had a hfn (happily for now) ending that warmed my heart.
I started reading Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey which I mistakenly thought was a biography of a real demolition derby driver. If you go here wikipedia talks about the book. It doesn't sound like a book I would like but Julie assures me that she and Dan are fans of the author, Chuck Palaniuk, and his books are all good. He authored the book behind the movie, Fight Club, which I haven't seen but my kids loved.

Update: I put Rant down. It was hard for me to read. I will probably pick it up at another time or I may just mail it to Julie. It's like Terry Pratchett. The same people who like books that I like, love Terry Pratchett but I just can't read him.

Then, the library lured me in to return my overdue books. While I was there I picked up a couple of romcoms I hadn't read...

Last but not least, I watched the fourth Pirates of the Carribean movie. I laughed and laughed. I'm in love with J.D./Capt. Jack Sparrow, of course, but I have to say the entire cast is very talented. And the writing is witty and fun.

That was my weekend, y'all. What did you get up to?