Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I no longer wear "Falsies"

Okay, I admit I have nothing important to blog about today. I’m bogged down with work, have a class, and it’s back to school night… So I stole this blog from the wonderful Julia Barrett who runs her blog like a professional.

I love Julia’s blog and visit it almost everyday. I never know what I’ll find there. Yesterday she had a terrific post featuring the more extreme version of the Maybelline “Falsies” mascara commercial posted above. You’ve got to pop over there and see with your own eyes the excess Maybelline is trying to foist on us.

(Please visit Julia Barrett’s World blog and check out the other version of the Maybelline Falsies ad and the comments visitors’ left! lol)

Anyway, these were my thoughts about Maybelline Falsies Mascara:

Maybe she’s born with it? I think the word “Falsies” says it all. I’ve already publicly admitted I’m a mascara addict, willing to believe any crap Maybelline, Cover Girl or L’Oreal heaves on me. The make-up section of Target weakens my willpower and my lashes are skimpy. I hate leaving the store empty handed with so many beauty miracles hanging from the shelf within easy reach. I get pulled in and splurge on any new $6 mascara whenever one is offered—which is often. 

As the Latisse ad featuring Brook Shields says, I “suffer from inadequate lash syndrome” and I’m always on the lookout for those eyelashes I lost in the past. 
At this very moment I’m holding a partially used tube of “Falsies” mascara in “Blackest-black” (that means it’s so black it’s beyond the blackest black of any known black realm, it’s goes to the 11 of black, and its even blacker than “carbon” black, which is supposedly a lighter more tasteful shade of black mascara…)

Honestly, “Falsies” mascara does crap! It does not build lashes remotely close to any of their claims. Those models in the ads are wearing double or even triple pairs of false eyelashes and leading us to believe it’s the mascara. Shame on them. 
 I don’t even want to look like the ad, I just want my mascara to build quickly…  Am I asking too much? 

Last week, I foolishly wore Falsies mascara to the gym and walked out with one eye (not both) looking like a raccoon. Why just one eye? It almost looked rakish, like an eye patch, but its still not a flattering look for a gal. 
The Falsies special “spoon” brush did not give me “wings”.

My experiment in Falsies glamour is over. The tube is going into the trash right now… I fully admit I wasted another $6 dollars on nonsense. I’m just scared that if I leave it lying around I might forget about it’s weird one-eyed cyclopic tendencies and use it again by mistake. 

So, to review, if Falsies mascara worked the wearer would look like a vampire child of the night Rupaul drag queen, when it doesn’t work the wearer risks looking like a one-eye raccoon. Learn from my mistakes and spare yourselves the embarrassment and save $6, don’t bother with Falsies mascara it won’t make your flirty vampire dreams come true. 


Another School Year

While I’ve given up writing for the time being I rediscovered reading. I’m enjoying so many books. I can’t seem to devour them fast enough. I’d forgotten how much I truly like escaping into a fantasy world.
My fantasy world is coming to an end tomorrow. Summer will be over for us as my daughter starts her first day of high school. She’s NOT a morning person, so having to get her up at 6am to catch the bus should be fun – not. I do not like fighting with this child to drag her butt out of bed, but it’s what I do every day of the school year. Needless to say I’m not looking forward to tomorrow morning.
After finishing my contracted book and subbing it, my editor let me know edits wouldn’t arrive until around Sept 12th. Okay, I can handle that. Since subbing it I’ve been thinking about different ways to make it stronger.
That’s about all I have this week.
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Vitamin P! Got any?
Vitamin P.
Ever heard of it?
Me, neither. Until the other day in a magazine, the writer espoused a regular dosage of Pleasure.  Got any for yourself?
Connected to digital devices of every kind, we are definitely hyperactive.
Example? The other night on a newscast covering Irene, all four people on a boardwalk in New Jersey were walking into the camera view with cell phones to their ears.
Sure, their moment of greatness, right? They were calling home to tell their families, "I'm on TV. Turn in!"
But really! My question is, why the heck were these people out on the BOARDWALK, rain pouring down, ONE WITH A BABY STROLLER, calling home when they should have been in their cars and, as their Governor so improperly told them, "to get the hell off the beach"?  I want to know why they were on their phones (and why the one with the baby stroller wasn't well outta there yesterday)?
More than that, I wonder why the heck they were connected via cell phone when their brains are not connected to their common sense?
I vote for both.
I have Rules about how I use my electronic devices.
I don't do email when I travel.
I turn my cell phone off when I'm not using it or not expecting any calls.
I don't text. Ever.
If you want me, you have to email me or call me during normal human being type hours. I do the same for my friends.
I turn off my computer every night at 5, 6 at the latest.
I cook dinner. A really fine one.
I may read at night or I may watch movies.
The news I get comes from the NYT on line and anything else on line until I fold clothes after dinner and watch CNN and MSNBC or maybe (my newest fave) HGTV. (Wanna buy a house in Paris? London? Belize?)
My Blood Pressure is fine.
I work out 2-3x a week.
And my newest addiction is Dance Jam class on Saturdays.
WHAT's your addiction? What are your Rules for electronic devices?
What can you change to give yourself a dose of Vitamin P???

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Got my new cover for my next book...

Coming Soon

I'm waiting for edits on Uncertainly Yours. But I got the cover already so I am showing you now.  I love this guy's body...

I have a couple of WIPs in production.  I hope to have another book subbed and contracted before Romanticon this year.  If anyone is going to be there, catch me with an e-mail and we can enjoy a leisurely breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 


Fran Lee

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sexy Dreams

I have to laugh.

My husband gets so mad because he cannot dream about sex. Every single time he's in the middle of some sexy dream with some mystery babe, he stops and says..."I can't, I'm married."

I have no such problem. I know I'm dreaming so I give myself permission to do whatever I want. It's a dream, for crying out loud!

For years I've practiced what's called lucid dreaming. I read about it when I was in high school. A lucid dream is a dream in which one aware that one is dreaming. I can often control the direction and the outcome of the dream. Here's a link to Wikepedia:
I also found this from the Lucid Dreaming Institute (had no idea such an institute existed)

You too can learn the art of lucid dreaming! In any case, I'm taking Kat's advice - going to write more stream of consciousness. The Artist speaks with my real voice. No parlor tricks. Just me.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Slow Down!

I went to the grocery store after work the other day. At the butcher counter, I pointed to the bacon and cheese stuffed London Broil steaks and asked for two of them, “as close to the same size as possible”. Yes, I understand all of the reasons why hubby and I shouldn’t be eating such evil, artery clogging food, but that is not where I’m going with this story!

As is my way these days, I was driven to multi-task due to feeling like there are just not enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done, so I didn’t allow myself the scant few minutes required to watch the selection process. I went and grabbed milk, bread, toilet paper and pop, picking up the wrapped package as I whizzed back by on my way to check-out.

When dinner time finally rolled around, greatly delayed by car problems, a computer issue and calls from the office, my head nearly exploded when I unwrapped said steaks. Indeed, they were almost exact in circumference, but one was almost double in thickness and stuffing from the other! As always, hubby used his grilling expertise to cook them to perfection, and we enjoyed a delicious, decadent meal.

The literary epiphany I experienced at about four o’clock in the morning was an unexpected bonus! With a strong cup of coffee in hand, I figuratively slapped myself upside the head and opened my stalled WIP!! I’d assumed that with my use of the word “size”, the butcher understood I meant “weight”, “height”, and “volume”. But why should he? I didn’t say that, I didn’t make even the slightest attempt to articulate what was in my mind. As I re-read my story, I saw all the ways I’d rushed through writing it, “assuming” the reader would figure out what I meant! Shame on me!!

Note to self – Slow Down!!!!

Have a great weekend~

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes... is coming!

I love working independently but there’s something super special about a group project. That’s why I’m so excited to be included in the upcoming Ellora’s Cave anthology “Something Wicked This Way Comes”.

This is a double treat for me because it was Jaid Black who inspired me to start writing erotic-romance in the first place. Being chosen by her and included in the same volume with one of her stories is a huge honor for me.

It's an honor to have my name anywhere near Diana Hunter. Her amazing book “Secret Submission” was one of my first Ellora’s Cave purchases several years ago. That book is so good and so honest a portrayal of a BDSM lifestyle relationship-it’s burned into my mind. Thank you Diana for writing that book.

Aubrey Ross is so inventive and original; she blows me away and makes me wish I thought of her ideas first! lol

Regina Carlysle is a wonder. The quality and intensity of her stories never falters-She’s always a 5 star read. How does she do it?

If you’re acquainted with Ellora’s Cave Publishing you already know Laurann Dohner is a phenomenon that needs no explanation. Her writing is visceral, hot and punches all the right buttons.

Am I shocked to be in this company? Yes I am! But I’m also mighty grateful.

The other wonderful thing about this anthology is the reference to one of my absolute favorite authors of short fiction—Ray Bradbury.

As a disenfranchised teen I poured over Ray Bradbury’s books at our local library on a weekly basis. I read and reread the many groundbreaking Science fiction anthologies he and Isaac Asimov edited and contributed to. An immense love and respect for the short fiction format was instilled in me.

This is a quote from my spiritual mentor Ray Bradbury (who just turned 91 August 22!)

"Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years."

I did the same thing through middle school and high school. Libraries saved my sanity and my life.  “Something Wicked This Way Comes” was certainly on the reading list.

This feels really good. I’m very excited to be contributing my own take on the ever- evolving short story art form. 

That red-hot book cover is by Syneca. Does anyone know the name of that gorgeous model?


Taking a Break

My contracted story is in the hands of my editor so I'm taking a break until edits arrive...I'm currently poolside dreaming about him as my pool boy - I mean, hunky man.

Hope you enjoy the eye candy.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Late as usual!

Can't help it. Busy! Fridays are tough because my husband works from home, we get out hiking at the crack of dawn and then he likes to actually eat breakfast and drink coffee. I usually just grab a banana. Okay, no more complaining!

I'm at Book Lovers, Inc. today:

Stop by and maybe win a copy of Incorporeal! Happy weekend! Julia

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I recently read another article that blamed Erotic Romance novels for the crumbling moral fiber of the entire planet! Who knew we authors had so much power??!

Romance novels have been around for a very long time; full of larger than life heroes, extravagant locations, and undying loves that triumph over insurmountable challenges.

So, does the evil lie in the use of correct terminology for the human anatomy? Maybe it’s the honest exploration of all of the many facets of the sex act?

What concerns me most is that in these modern times, much of the negative dialog suggests that female sexuality is something that shouldn’t be discussed and celebrated openly, and that women are not intelligent enough to separate real life from fiction. Seriously?

I think we all fully understand that most men are not in excess of six-feet four inches tall, possess a perfect set of eight-pack abs, and whose only reason for living is to protect/worship/understand/support/satisfy their woman! Vamps, aliens and shifters are wonderful characters, but I’m betting the vast majority of female readers are pretty damn clear on the fact that they aren’t going to be meeting one any time soon.

I’d call bullshit on anyone who declares their relationship with their significant other “perfect”, or who blames the demise of a relationship on a book. But can Erotic Romance really affect a woman’s life? I say, “Hell yes”!! Isn’t it empowering to read about women who overcome all kinds of issues on their journey of self discovery? What about discovering new positions, toys, and games that spice up the real world bedroom? How about the simple fact that a beautiful love story makes the reader happy?! Yep, all terrible consequences…

Speaking of evil Erotic Romances, Pampering Jessica, received a wonderful review from Book Wenches~

“Jessica is a very relatable woman, as she is someone who is so busy with her life and responsibilities that sometimes she ends up sacrificing too much, including her own needs, to take care of those around her. She is a strong, caring person who would do anything for those she loves, and the author gives her an incredibly vulnerable aspect which we get to see pop up throughout the story. Jessica is luckier than most women, though, because she has the love and support of a great husband who sometimes understands her better than she understands herself.
David is the epitome of a dream husband. He works hard to support his family, and he is fully devoted to his wife and their marriage, even when times are tough. He is also incredibly sexy, romantic and creative. His pampering treats for Jessica will set your heart aflutter and get you all tingly where it counts.”

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Smells like pre-teen spirit

Where did summer go? School is ready to start! Yesterday I sat in a school gymnasium through a lengthy parent orientation for my son’s upcoming first day of junior high. I wasn’t ready for any of it on so many levels. This summer has been wonderful, packed with lots of time with family and friends and I hate to see it end.

I also have horrible memories of junior high school and it’s hard to watch my only child heading into that caldron… I don’t want him to suffer the negative experiences I had.

My son actually enjoyed the first day orientation. He walked out of his new school beaming. He didn’t seem intimidated at all by the many little things that easily overwhelmed me at that age, and he has a couple of big challenges of his own to cope with. Sometimes I don’t know where he gets his confidence.  He always seems to have plenty, and I hope it stays that way.

I keep hearing from the other kids in our school district that this is a great school and they love it. I also hear from the others that the parents and teachers don’t allow the kind of oblivious stuff that certainly went on when I was in junior high school. People are much more aware that bulling is a serious matter that destroys lives, but I worry because there are so many embarrassing ways nowadays to cyber bully.  Our children are facing so many difficult pressures.

Junior high is one of those invisible boundary markers that warn you the child part of childhood is over and only limbo-land lay ahead.

So far my son seems fine with all this. He’s having a good time, but what about me?

If your children survived junior high school, please leave me an encouraging comment—please!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Out of Whack!

The DH returned to work on Monday and so the late night/early morning feedings returned to me. I’m so exhausted I don’t know if I’m coming or going.
My hopes were to finish edits and send them off to my editor, but I had to change a scene and well, that changes the rest of the book, so…let’s just say things aren’t going smoothly.
Other than that I discovered I’m going to be in another anthology. I found this lovely cover on Barnes and Noble. My story Dante’s Desire is part of the book. I’m excited! You can check it out here.
That’s all I have for today.
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 15, 2011

History lessons at the movies?

As a professionally trained historian (with grad degree in the Old Stuff), I love to write historical fiction and read it.
A few nights ago, a professor of American history gave a big slam on prime time TV to the new movie, THE HELP. Her critique was, IMHO, the one of the "More Knowledgeable Academician" telling the lowly world how inaccurate, improper and downright disgraceful the film was to have portrayed that time and place and characters with joy, humor or compassion. Her conclusion was that the film is a gross glossing over of the truth.
Now, first, I must tell you, I read this book months ago. Loved it for its humor, compassion and finely drawn characters. Most of all, I loved it for its portrayal of the times and the milieu. I lived through that time and I remember it well.  And while I lived in a fully integrated city and went to public school in one, I also went to college with women (and men) from the Deep South. I know what my friends thought and how they lived. I listened to them as we watched riots and hosings, the aftermath of the murder of Medgar Evers and Dr. King. I visited the South with my friends, met their parents and siblings. And while I am not a professional historian of slavery in America, I can say all of the following with certitude:
1. No book, non-fiction or fiction, can portray the total truth of a period or a people.
2. One book, non-fiction or fiction, can explore only one angle, hopefully, well.
3. One author, especially a fiction author, does not aspire to write the definitive picture of a person, place or period.  (If she does, she'll never finish that book.)
4. The author's job is to pick one premise, one theme and one or two morals of the story. If she's doing her job well, she's going to use the best of her talents to accomplish that limited goal.
5. This author chose to portray a group of white women and a group of black women whose intertwining relationships were representative of a culture and a period.
I think she accomplished her goal well.
If she didn't accomplish this TV historian's goal well, she didn't have to.
And clearly, since THE HELP continues to strike a chord in hundreds of thousands of people who have read and continue to read it--and smile and laugh and shake their heads and feel the pain of those characters--the author did her job.
That is the only thing she was supposed to do.
The only job any author of fiction has or should.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gol durn dang it!

What is it with me? I cannot remember to post on Fridays and blogger hates me so much it won't let me schedule posts!

I think the problem is that hubby works from home every Friday, which is a mixed blessing. Yes, he hikes with me early in the morning, like at the crack of dawn so he can get to work by 8 a.m. But he's here all day, using my space and asking for things, lunch, afternoon know, gotta take the bitter with the sweet, I guess - but he throws off my timetable!

So, what's new? I have the two indie books up on Amazon, working on getting a third book up within the next few weeks. I'm working on In the Flesh - a sequel to Incorporeal.

Many thanks for all your kind words earlier this week - I needed them desperately. Have a wonderful weekend! love, Julia

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tessie Bradford's "Matt's Return" is Available Today!

There’s a wonderful new pleasure trend called “Amuse Bouche” that’s spreading through culinary circles. Maybe it’s more accurate to say the trend is new to me.  Amuse bouche literally means “happy mouth” and refers to one perfect little taste of something special. I first heard about this fun new thing through the amazing Julia R Barrett, who knows her food. Amuse bouche showcases miniature confections and canapés presented as exquisite little bursts of beauty and flavor. Its food as art and sensual experience. I find this trend breathtakingly exciting because the kid in me loves miniature anything and wants the opportunity to taste a little bit of absolutely everything and with amuse bouche I can have it all. The only thing that could make me happier than a stunningly presented porcelain tea saucer filled with teeny tiny chocolate desserts would be sharing those desserts with a purple miniature pony wearing a tiny hat…The kid in me is getting excited just thinking about it.

Its not just food. The good news is the amuse bouche aesthetic is spreading to literature. This week I found two new lovely stories that could easily fit in the bowl of an elegant silver spoon. Each provided a flash of bright color, strong distinct flavors and just as the sensual thrills were peaking, it was over—but that wasn’t a bad thing. In fact after reading these short stories I was left feeling perfectly satisfied, and my mind was on fire.

I told Julia I wouldn’t mention her new release in today’s blog but I have to…
“The Artist” is a prefect example of a literary amuse bouche! It’s only 8 pages long for crying out loud, but it packs a punch and every paragraph is memorable. Reading it felt like a forbidden peek into a secret diary. “The Artist” is a rich burst of flavor in a tiny bite. 

The second gem and I do mean gem, is Tessie Bradford’s “Matt’s Return”. This too is short fiction but the story is so concentrated and smoking hot that I got the full picture of a couple who love each other deeply, but have spent three years of their lives apart and must now reconnect and move forward. Tessie Bradford excels at painting brief, bright character studies. I was moved by how much story she packed into this cameo-sized portrait of two lovers who belong together.

It would be cruel not to give you a little taste, so here it is. Matt McLeod is a hunky 6’4” (Not everything in today’s blog is small) undercover cop working to bust international drug lords. He is captured, beaten and held against his will for years. During his escape he’s badly injured. It’s his memories and intentions to get home to Molly that keep him alive. After being away from Molly for nearly three years guess what he wants to do first with all those pent up emotions? Yeap, you’re right and I loved every page of it. This gem is spicy.

It was my intention to review both these lovely stories for today’s blog but I soon discovered I couldn’t do it. I was afraid I would ruin the experience for the reader who should (I feel) just be bold, put the spoon in their mouth and enjoy a little taste of something different. These stories are priced inexpensively and quick to read but they provide a very pleasant experience. So go ahead and treat yourself to a beautiful miniature confection.

Tessie Bradford’s “Matt Return” is available today from Resplendence Press.

Julia R Barrett, “The Artist”


Back Temporarily

The other day fellow author and friend Anny Cook blogged about the decrease in sales and whether or not it’s worth continuing to bust your butt to put out stories that people just aren’t buying.
Like Anny I began tracking my sales in a spreadsheet at the beginning of the year. Let me just say sales aren’t what they used to be. I didn’t write as many stories as I had last year, but it shouldn’t make a difference. Everyone said you need a backlist. Well, I have one – 25+ books long.
I do have two books that sell well – Adrift and Gettin’ Lucky. Two different publishing houses and two different stories. So why do they sell so well? Beats me.
Then yesterday I received 4 reviews for 3 different books. The first one was really good for Hit Me. The next three came hours later and within minutes of each other. Each was not so great. Hit Me, Chasing Forever and Just Another Rainy Day. So maybe it’s my writing. Maybe because I’m not grieving as much I’ve lost something in my ability to write a decent story. Could be I’ve lost my mojo. ;o) Whatever the reason things are not panning out the way I thought they would by now.
I couldn’t write full time if I wanted. Where I once made $500 a month I’m lucky if I get $100…and that’s from 4 publishers. I want to be able to spend more time with my new daughter. I’d like to quit my day job, but again, the money just isn’t there right now.
So where does that leave me? To focus more on my non-fiction writing. It’s more productive and lucrative. I’m going to finish the one book I’m writing because it’s contracted. Not sure how long I’ll be on hiatus. At least until the writing bug strikes me again or I feel I just have to write.
I’ll continue to blog here if I have something to write about or something worthwhile to share.

Monday, August 8, 2011

99 cent price point issues, pro and con

Venturing into self-publishing with a digital release of a book for an author presents many challenges. Now publishing houses are doing the same with their backlists, frontlists and a few famous authors' works.
But I do wonder about the affects of the 99 cent price point on authors and the industry as a whole.
For an author, positives include: (my 2 cents)
1. The ability to lure new readers to your body of work/s in greater numbers using the low price as  teaser;
2. The ability to launch a series with a sweet intro price.
For literacy in this country and the sales of books overall,  the preponderance of 99-centers means more people may be induced to read.
THIS is a huge benefit in a country where education funding is being cut like Lady Gaga's last wild outfit--and illiteracy rises at an alarming rate to more than 20% of the population!
But what are the negatives of the 99 cent phenomena?
I worry that the 99 cent price point will so enthrall readers that this becomes a challenge to the entire industry, digital, print, self and traditional in that fewer and fewer readers want to pay more for a work.
While the economy--and Standard and Poor's latest jab at  its own country--inspires more authors to price their works this way, truly the amount of time and effort that goes into writing something dynamic and viable (then editing it and formatting) demands a higher price point for many works.  Few authors can afford to keep bargain basement prices for their works. Nor should they.
Volume sales, certainly, may more than make up for modest royalties of any initial 99 cent release, in terms of an author's earnings.
Diversity of types of works "on the shelves" also increases as self-pubbing becomes easier to format and file into various third party vendors.
What are your thoughts on this 99 cent surge?
Have you bought books at this price range and discovered new authors?
What compelled you to do that?
And have you subsequently purchased other works by that author at a higher price?

Friday, August 5, 2011

New Release.

It was sort of a last minute decision...

I decided I'd no longer waste all my short stories. Kindle makes it easy to publish them. The Artist is an erotic short, only $.99,
but I have an entire collection of short stories sitting in my file drawers that I'm going to begin to upload - a lifetime's worth, some erotic, some funny, some just plain old what we used to call literary fiction.

Ought to be very interesting.

Isn't the cover the best! Many thanks to Winterheart Design.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's Still Thursday!

I'm again falling back on the "better late than never" theory of blog posting!!

Congratulations to my fellow scribes for all of their recent, wonderful successes!! Print books, new contracts, jumping into the world of self-publishing, you ladies ROCK!!

I'm excited about the upcoming release of Matt's Return! It will be available at Resplendence Publishing next Wednesday, August 10th.

After four years of college, three months of intense job searching, nine in-person interviews at which she heard that either she was 'over-qualified' or 'lacked exceperience', my daughter got a job in her desired field yesterday!!!!!!!!!!! There is MUCH happy dancing going on in our family!

Have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I got my money's worth out of the month of July!

Its already August and I’m still reeling from the month of July. Normally a month can pass in a flash but this July was so action packed and filled to the brim with a little of everything that I actually felt time slowing down for the first time, in a very long while.

In July I got a lot of good news and many beautiful events took place. There were several weddings, new children were born, and I had a chance to travel and reconnect with old friends I love.

At an outdoor firework display, I weaseled my way to the very front where the fireworks were lit because I always wanted to get as close as possible to watch. I was so close this year that a few times I had to lay flat on the grass because it looked as if the rocketing fireworks were headed directly at us when they launched. I did scream, but in a good way. It was really exciting. I’ve never seen fireworks that close from that angle. I know it’s a very bad pun but it was a blast!

Two loved ones I was very worried about both got surprising reprieves from their doctors. Throughout most of June my father and I spent hours on the phone preparing for his demise. I was very scared I was going to receive bad news last month that would signal the beginning of the end. Instead in mid-July we got an all’s clear from my father’s doctor and a little more time together.  A dear friend who had been seriously ill got good news as well and it felt as if the universe was letting us all up for a breath of air. A sense of joy and relief reigned.

My wedding anniversary and birthday are both in July. I have a long running tradition that every birthday, I challenge myself to try something new that’s outside my comfort zone. One not-long-ago-birthday I promised myself I would learn to type and start writing. Another I walked into a body-piercing saloon and got pierced. An earlier year I raced along a series of steep fire roads that stretch across the Santa Monica Mountains from morning to nightfall, by myself just to know I could still do it.

By comparison this year will sound pretty tame. I’d never taken a yoga class in my life. I’ve been carefully avoiding yoga all these years because I was certain I would be bored out of mind and hate it. I went to the yoga class on my birthday and left class trembling, sweaty and tear-streaked with gratitude. I cried cathartic tears holding some of the deeper stretches and felt very grateful I took the class. I loved it and I’ve been in a yoga class every other day since.
In July I completed and turned in two short fiction projects. Now the waiting begins… I’m keeping myself busy working on several longer WIPs.

I saw a lot of movies in July, more than I usually see because an ingenious local theater has started dropping prices on slightly older movies, which means we get a second chance to see everything on a big screen, at bargain prices.

We saw “X-Men First Class” The other day and I absolutely loved it. I was totally surprised because I went into the theater with low expectations. X-Men First Class was so well written and acted. It beautifully explains the X-men mythology. During the beginning of the movie both my husband and my son whispered at the same moment. “This is the best X-Men ever!” Warning this X-Men isn’t for the little kids in the group. There are a lot of adult themes going on. One is a gripping scene in the beginning where young Erik (The future Magneto) is the Jewish victim of a very cruel experiment overseen by a Nazi doctor played by Kevin Bacon who makes a AAA villain. Kevin Bacon is fantastic and speaks the first ten minutes of the film in flawless German with subtitles. There is a lot of conflict, guilt and shame dropped on poor Erik’s character, which sets us up perfectly for a complex, messed–up and exciting-as-hell adult Erik played by Michael Fassbender.

I’m a new fan of Michael Fassbender. I think this handsome 34 year old German/ Irishman is one the most exciting actors with depth to come along in a while. You may have already seen Fassbender cast in starring roles as Lt. Archie Hicox in “Inglourious Basterds”, the newest version of Jane Eyre or playing the part of Stelios in “300”. Good news is there’s more to come. He’s been cast to play the pioneer psychologist Carl Jung across from Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s upcoming film “A Dangerous Method”. I predict Michael Fassbender will play James Bond someday. He’d be perfect.

There was so much that was good about July, I hope August can equal it.


Monday, August 1, 2011

A taste of my new Regency cherry?

Just back from a vacation to a Shakespeare Festival and Las Vegas (yeah, hi brow, lo brow), I thought I'd give you a nibble of my newest cherry.
This one, LADY STARLING'S STOCKINGS, is on Amazon Kindle right now. Soon to be up on B&N Nook, and, the book is priced at 99 cents and is my strategic move to see if 99 cents really does make all boats rise!
Here is the summary and the nibble for you:
Copyright 2011, Cerise DeLand. All rights reserved.


Lady Solange Starling has a special skill. But catching spies within her cousin’s embassy has never presented a challenge…until now.
One moonlit evening in a garden, Solange views a daring man she has not seen in years. A man she never forgot. A man, who even in his youth, carved his place in her life and her reverie.
Monsieur Noir, he calls himself. And so he is, a man living in shadows, dark and dangerous to her heart. As the two of them join together to weed out the nemesis who attempts to destroy their fight against Napoleon, Solange and Noir learn how rich grand passion can be.
Once more, they fight against cruel fate to give them what they most desire. Each other. Free of torment and loss. Free at last to love.

Naples, Italy
September 30, 1815
Lady Solange Starling adjusted her mask and gazed out over the assemblage at the British Embassy, searching the ballroom wearing a blasé smile–and with a determination fraught with frustration.
Where, oh, where are you, Monsieur? Dinner is done, the dancing is about to begin and I am bursting with news and questions!
Among the pale flocks of British ladies and somber olive-skinned Italian matrons, Solange wove her way through the throng to find her contact. Out of courtesy, she had to stop here and there often to permit the gentlemen who approached to kiss her hand, murmur greetings and attempt to charm her.  Despite her ostrich-feathered mask, these diplomats and naval officers, both English and Italian, knew her curvaceous figure, her love of fashion–and her noble English name.  They knew she was wealthy and half French.  And all that they knew came from two sources–her reign over the haute ton in London as Lord George Starling’s young bride and his widow, plus her previous visit here at the embassy to her cousin and his wife. On Solange’s first sojourn to Naples three months ago, she had accomplished her mission to find the traitor who turned out to be her cousin’s naval adjutant. And she had done it within days of sailing into port.
Now, given the threatened return of Napoleon’s brother-in-law Murat here to reclaim his throne of Naples, her newest task was greater and more urgent. And my contact? Monsieur de la Guerre? Where is he?
“My lady, Solanj-a,” the Neapolitan prince of D’oro crooned in his heavily accented English. “I am so happy to see you have returned to us here in Napoli.”
Va bene, Your Highness, how could I stay away?” She flirted with the eagle-eyed naval officer, using a gay tilt to her head and a flash of her eyes. A man notorious for his spendthrift ways and frequent bouts with the pox, Prince Giorgio peered at her with a salacious intensity before letting his gaze scan down her figure.
“Have you had the opportunity to shop yet in the main piazza, cara mia?”
“You remember well my little amusement to keep my modiste rapidly sewing, dear Prince.” She pursed her lips and allowed him to savor the sight.
“I wish to learn more about you than your preference for the richest fabrics, my lovely bird,” he said, his tongue sliding across his lower lip.
“Now, now,” she teased him, tapping her fan on his arm and walking toward terrace. With a sideways look, she led this man on as she did all men.  She had no one in her bed.  Had invited no one since her elderly husband passed on to his grave reward five years ago. And though she longed for a spectacular lover to fill her body and obsess her mind, she had spotted no candidates who matched her exacting ideals. Until such a specimen of manhood appeared and could match one unforgettable champion she’d met half a lifetime ago, she would remain alone in her bed by night and at her espionage by day.  “Though I confess, I would love to shop for a few yards of Venetian lace.”
“For a camisole?” he asked, his gaze afire with hunger. “Do you need one? As creamy as your skin? I will order one made!”
“You are too kind. I would not trouble you. But alas, I am so occupied, Your Highness. You must have heard that I did come this time to help my cousin’s wife after her recent lying-in.”
“You should have a child of your own.” He grabbed her hand.
His own was clammy, and Solange bore with the cool sweat like a seasoned soldier of the Cold Stream Guard.
“You are so lovely, so well formed…what is the English word? Endowed? I am certain God has blessed you with the ability to bear many children, bella mia.” His thin black brows wiggled high while his arm circled her waist and he pressed his fingers to the side of her breast.
She smiled serenely, the lascivious cuss.  Then she picked up her pace. She would tempt him, but she would not bed him. Her stock in trade was her own sensual allure. Without her golden looks and her acute perception, without her sloe-eyed sensuality that she never tamped, she would not have become one of Home Department’s most accomplished spies. She enjoyed the chase and she would not stop intriguing men. Not now. Not when victory over the last of that tyrant Bonaparte’s men was soon to come. Not when that victory depended on her rooting out the French operative who had burrowed himself so deeply into her cousin’s diplomatic staff that he threatened the peace of Europe with his nefarious presence. “You are too complimentary, Your Highness.”
“Never! Beauty such as yours blossoms, I am certain, when a seasoned lover teaches you the delights you so richly deserve.”
Forward fart. She forced her muscles to relax.
“I would show you my newest mill. On the road to Roma.”
They descended the terrace steps, and Solange purposely stopped at the entrance to the maze. She would not offer him any solitude in which to accost her.
“I purchased it two weeks ago.”
“So recently?” She marveled that these Neapolitans changed sides so easily. “Are you not concerned that Murat’s spies lurk on the road to Rome?”
“Murat has lost all friends among us. He is a nasty cat, one day with his brother-in-law, one day with the Austrians and you British. Forget politics, lovely Solanj-a.” He caressed the side of her breast and she fought the urge to box his ears. “Come with me in my carriage to view my fabrics.”
“Ah, Your Highness, tempting surely.” To go out with this lecher alone in his carriage would cause all kinds of a scandal. Yet Solange needed to discover if Giorgio was simply dedicated to her seduction or if he wished to glean information about her cousin and the British naval blockade of the city. After all, Giorgio had been a close friend of the naval attaché whom she had put to ground three months ago. Plus she had seen Giorgio only an hour ago in hot discussion in one corner with a French émigré whom she suspected of collusion with the Bonapartists. “But you know I must not disappear with you alone. My family, my friends. Why, you must imagine how they would view an afternoon with you.” She widened her eyes and consoled him with a tiny moue.
“Bring your maid, if you must,” he told her, leaning forward.
He came so close she smelled the garlic and onions of his lunch on his breath. Oh, merde. “A charming solution!” Her stomach lurched. She tried not to wince–or inhale the fumes.
“I will show you silk such as you have never seen.”
Silk? The blood in her veins raced. Her favorite. Her fetish.
“From Lucca’s finest worms.”
“Luccan silk.” She repeated like a half-wit. Luccan silk. Reputed to be made from Chinese worms given by Kublai Khan to Marco Polo. “I have never felt it.”
“I will allow you to feel everything.” He grasped her hands and, in his rabid desire, squeezed the blood out of them.  Everything!”
His innuendo was not lost on her. She grimaced, surrendering to her need to investigate his life further.
“Well, Your Highness, I–“
“I will give you all you need, Solanj-a. My silks. More. Come with me for the day, the night–“
A man coughed. Once. Twice. From behind the tall cypresses.
Giorgio’s heavy brows darted together. At once, he hauled her against his wiry body and his very rigid cock. “Ignore him, bella. Tell me you will come–“
Solange stepped backward, brushing the front of her dress. How to deter him politely from handling her like a whore, hmmm?
He took no heed, but flowed toward her, pressing his mouth to her ear–and his lips were as wet as his hands. “I am mad for you, my lovely English lady.”
From behind the tall evergreen next to them, a gentleman cleared his throat.
Their interloper’s intrusions made her suppress a chuckle.
“Your Highness, your offer of the afternoon–“
“Your offer, Your Highness, I might say, is­ what?”
A booming bass voice surrounded Solange like a villain in a Venetian opera as a man strolled from the bushes.  She gasped.
“Wonderful? The lady will consider it and write you tomorrow with her answer.”
Solange stared up at the towering figure before her. Taller than any man she’d ever met. More fit, as well. Dressed entirely in black, save for a flowing white stock, he looked like a devil’s disciple. Even to his rich ebony hair that fell over his brow and the large black velvet mask that covered his eyes and cheeks but not his strong square jaw.
“And who are you to speak for the lady, sir?” Giorgio asked, his lips curled in outrage at this interference.
“I am an old friend of hers from her childhood,” the apparition in midnight hues responded with derision. “I am certain she remembers me.  Don’t you, ma cherie?”
* * *
Solange swayed on her feet, her forehead cool, her eyes burning with the sight of the man she had wished to return to her, lo, these fifteen years. Even now moments since Giorgio had stormed off, she was blinded by brilliant memories from her wretched past.
Her man in black swept her into his arms and carried her to a nook in the maze where he sat upon a small stone settee and plopped her on his lap. “I have shocked you,” he said, the back of his hand soothing strokes to her forehead and cheeks. “I meant to be more gallant and introduce myself in a civil manner in the ballroom. But that man intruded. He irritates me to no end.”
She caught her breath, her gaze all over this man whose face she saw within her shattered memories of her parents, Paris and the tumbrils. “Me, too,” she admitted because she knew she could speak to this man plainly as she could no other. “How did you find me? Why…here? Why now?”
His eyes sparked with humor. They were black, brilliant and bold. “I am here to help you, my dear Solange.”
Help? She stilled. Do what? Why would the man who as a youth had once pulled her from the dastardly cart headed for the guillotine appear now? After years in which she thought him dead, how could he help her? He would probably faint if he knew what she did for her adopted country. And for that, she did not require his help but her dear Monsieur de la Guerre’s.
This led her to the more pertinent question. “Where the hell have you been all these years?”