Monday Musings – Perception vs Reality or God’s a Dude


I consider myself an intelligent person. I guess that doesn’t mean much because most people, if you ask them, will tell you they’re pretty smart. That’s their perception of themselves…like the perception that they’re taller than they are, better looking than they are, more popular than they are…etc.  Aging is a perfect example of perception having it all over reality. Even when you hit middle age and your figure starts to resemble an apple with four stems, or your hair starts getting less blond, brown, black or red and becomes…well kind of the opposite of all those colors. Even when those things happen you still manage to tell yourself you’re young. The mind doesn’t perceive age like the mirror does. It lies to you out of kindness.

In fact, perception is generally kinder than reality, though there are exceptions. Take for example the teenage girl, or really women of all ages. Generally women perceive themselves to be flawed beyond redemption…physically, emotionally, intellectually…flawed.  We focus so hard on those flaws that we start to forget everything that makes us unique and wonderful.

Men are the total opposite. They think they’re gods…all of them. A guy will look in the mirror and he won’t see the reality of a short, balding guy with a big nose and floppy ears. What he sees is Brad Pitt or The Rock. That’s why guys will saunter up to a woman who is so far out of their league that it’s laughable, and talk to her like she has no choice but to be with him. Problem is, that beautiful woman is probably so focused on her own flaws that she might believe the short, floppy-eared guy standing before her is all she can attract. It kind of works out in a weird sort of way. At least for hetro couples.

Gay couples have it all over the rest of us. Both members of the couple think they’re god’s gift, so everybody’s happy. No stress. No mess. No harsh reality checks. Lesbian couples? All I can say is, sorry ladies. But look at the bright side, your partner is probably so busy beating herself up she has no time or energy to notice the flaws you probably don’t have but think you do.  Right?

The whole situation is just more proof that god is a dude.

Ya feelin’ me?

 

Monday Musings – When Did I Lose Control?


No really, when did this happen? HOW did it happen?

From my perhaps jaundiced perspective, I had complete control over everything when I was in my teens.  I was immortal. I knew everything.  And everybody around me was stupid.

In my twenties I was all that and more. I was beautiful in my twenties. Smart and talented. I had the world by the tail and liked to give it a little tug every once in a while.

In my thirties I was too busy to think much about my wonderfulness, but I was still pretty secure in it. If someone asked me about something I knew the answer…even if I didn’t, erm, know the answer.

By my forties I had achieved the pinnacle of wiseness. I still looked pretty good for my age, was of course smarter than everybody else, and rocked the world in my chosen activities. I was still a goddess, though a slightly careworn one.

Then the fifties hit. I started out okay. But somewhere along the way everything just tanked. I became stupid. I had no control over anything. And…god help me…I’m no longer a goddess.

How the hell did this happen? I demand answers!

I want a redo.

Wait…oh hell no. No redos. I don’t think I could ever fool myself so completely for so long again. #:0)

Enjoy the day!

Friday Flash – Dinner with an Alien


I couldn’t believe my new neighbor had invited me to dinner. I’d been admiring him from afar for weeks, ravishing him with my gaze. I didn’t think he’d noticed.

Yet there I was, standing in his living room among still to be unpacked boxes.

He smiled at me, his eyes flashing with good humor. “I’ll admit I’m a little surprised you said yes.” He reached out and poked me on the arm.

While I thought this was a bit strange, I figured he was just being playful. “Why wouldn’t I accept?” I asked him coyly.

He shrugged, grabbing my hand and pulling me toward the kitchen. “I haven’t been able to talk anybody else into it.”

I laughed. “Are you a bad cook?”

“No. But I’m not from around here and I’ve had trouble figuring out the best cuts of meat.”

I accepted a glass of something golden and thanked him. “Really? Where are you from?”

“Venus, actually. But I spent some time on Mars too.”

I chuckled. “Funny guy. Sipping my drink, I spit the bitter tasting brew across the room, grimacing. “What is this stuff?”

He moved closer, squeezing my arm and then lifting it to sniff. “Tenderizer.”

I forced a chuckle. “Uh, yeah that’s what it tastes like.” Deciding it was time to change the subject I asked. “Sooo, what’s for dinner?”

He took the glass from my hand and pressed me backward with his hard, sexy body, grabbing a meat cleaver from the table. “Young male, vintage 1986.” He opened his mouth, showing two rows of jagged, sharp looking teeth. “Dan down the street told me it was a very good year.”

Monday Musings – Back in the Saddle


I  was at the Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together over the weekend. Easily my favorite conference. I’m pretty much on drag-butt mode right now, but I’m feeling good about the event. I spent a lot of time getting to know new people and reacquainting myself with people I already knew. I sold some books, participated in events and giveaways for charity, and laughed a lot. It’s really nice to get out of my writing cave for a couple of days and meet actual, flesh and blood people with faces and voices. After several unbroken months of only online interaction, it’s easy to forget that there are real people behind the digits on the screen. #:0)

What I’m always struck with at these conferences are the vast differences between the people who work in, and enjoy the fruits of, the literary world. I guess, if you look at the wide, wide range of books and stories available, it makes sense that the people who write and/or read them would be an eclectic collection. #:0) I was personally part of many fascinating conversations, covering everything from social media to the business of writing, and the challenges and joys of my own writing plan and books. Everyone I spoke with was kind and pleasant. We all enjoyed the same level of excitement to be able to speak “book-ese” with someone who understands our passion. But we didn’t just talk books. We touched on family, pets, work and even societal challenges. It was like a giant sleepover with hundreds of my closest friends.

It’s why I return to this conference year after year. The experience re-energizes me and reminds me why I do what I do. So it’s back to the cave for me! I’m feeling inspired.

 

 

My Sexy Saturday – Discordant Lights


When Chaos rules, only the fiercest love survives.

Bright City is growing increasingly discordant. Something dark and treacherous is stalking Rabb and Brant, creating havoc in both of their worlds. The Vampire Council is putting pressure on Brant to become an elder, using Rabb as bait to force him to comply. All the while, Rabb battles deadly fractures in pack alliances and fights his own personal vampire skirmish.

Will the packs fight an internal war to replace Rabb? Will the vampires force Brant to choose sides? War is on the horizon, and it might not only ravage the supes in Bright City, but also devastate the human population living ignorant and helpless among them.

~~*~~

Rabb’s muscles were tight with temper, his eyes bright with it. But the blood running through his veins showed no agitation. The thick, delicious nectar that gave him life surged and pulsed at the whim of his steadily beating heart, an essence so vibrant it made Brant’s fangs drop and ache.

Brant leaned near, sliding a tongue along Rabb’s throat and inhaling his lover’s unique musk—muscular and heady. “I don’t know…” He stepped closer, his mind overwhelmed with sudden lust. His cock hardened, shifting beneath denim. His chest heaved with sudden, rabid need. “I don’t care.” He pressed against Rabb, grinding hard as lust nearly took his mind away. “Fuck me, Rabb. Now.”

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Tuesday Taste – Hoaley Ill-Manored


 

Now in PRINT!

Now in PRINT!

A 200 year old manor house, a questionable death, and a cache of stolen jewelry. Who will kill to keep their secrets?

The gang flips a 200 year old manor house in the beautiful, rolling hills of Brown County, Indiana. Unfortunately the house is the site of a suicide, the result of a broken romance, and is rumored to be haunted. Adam and Maddy get caught up in the story of the young couple who were torn apart by family, local events, and something sinister that still seems to be stalking the house. It might not be a ghost, but whatever it is, it has the potential to be deadly.

 The Romance Reviews: “…a very enjoyable and rollicking story of wannabe detectives meeting villains who would rather their secrets stay hidden. Supported by some well-drawn characters and an intriguing plot line of interracial prejudice, murder and lost love, this story draws the reader in and provides a wonderful distraction to the realities of the real world.”

The Novel Approach: “As you read each novel, the characters become more alive to you, and more real. I found myself cringing and shutting my eyes and laughing, and sometimes scoffing along with the crew.”

~~*~~

“I knew the recent family of course. The last Bilsworth lived in this house up until ten years ago. They finally gave up on trying to keep the grand old lady running and sold out to a rich young man with no sense at all.” Edgar shook his head. “That was my last day at the house. I couldn’t stay on and watch the silliness that ensued.” He sighed. “But the original Bilsworths I learned about from my great-granddad. He worked for Mathew Bilsworth himself, but that was probably ten or fifteen years after.”

Adam lifted an eyebrow, tipping his water bottle for another drink. “After what?”

“After the first murder,” Edgar told him stoically.

Adam sprayed his water, showering Walter, who had been sprawled at his feet. Walter jumped up, wagging his tail. He thought they were playing spray the dog ’cause he’s hot. It was Walter’s favorite summer game. Adam sputtered, “first murder! There was more than one?”

At the screech in Adam’s voice Walter slunk out of the kitchen. He had a delicate psyche and generally went to great lengths to avoid negativity.

“Well, technically the second one was declared a suicide. But I never believed it.”

Instead of being appalled, or even surprised Adam noted, Maddy seemed even more excited by Edgar’s revelation. “Tell us! I knew about the more recent suicide. I didn’t realize there had been a murder in the house too!” She all but clapped her hands with delight.

Adam wanted to throttle her. Just once he wished they could buy and rehab a house that didn’t have skeletons in its closet…literally.

Edgar patted her hand and smiled. “Oh yes, dear, It was quite the scandal at the time. Young Mister Bilsworth was apparently a different sort…” Glancing uncomfortably at Maddy, Edgar cleared his throat, clearly embarrassed by young Mister Bilsworth’s differences.

Adam nearly smiled. “You mean he was gay?”

Edgar nodded, his pale gaze determinedly avoiding Maddy’s. “Yes. That was the story anyway. By all accounts he became…close…with a slightly older man he met in London and asked the young man, Jenks I think his name was, to come and stay at Bilsworth Manor for the summer. You can imagine how that went over with his father.”

Maddy nodded. “I’m guessing daddy Bilsworth wasn’t happy.”

“No indeed. Especially since old Mr. Bilsworth had been hoping to marry young Patrick off to the daughter of a wealthy landowner out East.”

Maddy leaned closer, clearly enchanted by the tale. “So what happened?”

Edgar shook his head. “I’m afraid Mr. Jenks was quite the scandalous fellow. Old Bilsworth asked around about him and discovered that things tended to disappear when Jenks was around. Expensive things, such as jewelry and gold. Nothing had been proved yet but there was considerable speculation that Jenks had forged a relationship with young Patrick so he’d have a way out of Dodge, so to speak, before he was arrested and hanged for his crimes in England.”

“Poor Patrick,” Maddy murmured.

Adam couldn’t help thinking Patrick must have been a unique kind of dope to fall for Jenks’s bullshit. “So despite the rumors that Jenks was a thief, Patrick Bilsworth fell for him and believed Jenks fell back?”

Edgar nodded, “It appears so. An unfortunate state of affairs to be sure.”

“So Jenks travelled to Bilsworth Manor from London,” Maddy prompted.

“Just ahead of the law apparently.” Edgar agreed. “From all accounts, Young Patrick insisted they throw a ball in his friend’s honor when Jenks arrived at Bilsworth. So old Mr. Bilsworth did the only thing he could. He invited every eligible female in the area to the ball, in the desperate hopes that young Patrick would come to his senses and throw Mr. Jenks over. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Apparently, young Patrick ignored all the pretty ladies and sat in a corner fuming as Mr. Jenks, who was by all accounts a very handsome fellow, flirted and danced quite happily with the ladies. In fact, the way my great-granddad told the story, Mr. Jenks fairly ignored young Patrick all night in favor of all the pretty flowers at the ball.” Edgar shook his head. “Love, thy touch is a fickle thing.”

“Amen and amen,” Adam added. “So I’m assuming Jenks’s behavior put a crimp in Patrick’s love?”

“Yes. Young Patrick and Jenks fought, quite loudly it seems, on the veranda that very night. Mr. Patrick threw Mr. Jenks off the premises and Jenks stormed away. Neither gentleman returned to the ball. It was later discovered that several very expensive pieces of jewelry disappeared from the necks and wrists of the ladies that night.”

Maddy shook her head. “How sad. But what about the murder?”

“The next morning, young Patrick came down to breakfast very upset. It seemed he’d had a change of heart about Mr. Jenks and demanded that his father help him find the man so that Patrick could apologize. I don’t have to tell you that Mr. Bilsworth was reluctant at best. But to that good gentleman’s credit, he did engage a search party. Mr. Jenks was finally found, but it was too late. He was hanging from the rafters of one of the slave cabins.”

Adam jerked upright, the bottle of water nearly slipping from his fingers. “Slave cabins!”

Edgar’s pale gaze slid to Adam, filled with surprise. “Why yes. You didn’t know about the cabins?”

Maddy gave an exclamation of excitement. “Are they still here? The cabins?”

“Only one I’m afraid.”

She stood up, apparently forgetting they were talking to a ninety-year-old man. “Can you show us where it is?”

“Mads…” Adam warned.

Edgar shook his head. “I’m sorry. I’m afraid these tired old legs wouldn’t carry me there. But I can tell you where it is. It shouldn’t be hard to find, despite the fact that the trees have quite grown up around it.”

“Did they ever discover who killed Mr. Jenks?” Adam’s mind was still stuck in the past.

“No. And the stolen jewelry was never discovered either. Many believe he hid them right here in Bilsworth Manor. But no one’s ever found them, though many have tried. The police have had their hands full, what with the treasure hunters and all those ghost people.”

Adam felt his eyes go wide. “Ghost people?”

“Yes, because of the hauntings of course.”

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Other books in the series:

A Hoale Lot of Trouble

Hoaley Inexplicable

Oh! Hoaley Night!

Monday Musings – Companion Planting Writ Large


Garden

My First Garden – And Miss Delilah!

 

For the first time, this year, I’ve planted my own vegetable and fruit garden. I’m very excited about my new project and I’m learning a lot. One of the things I’ve learned is that it isn’t necessary to plant things far apart, over vast areas in a garden. In fact, in almost every case, it makes more sense to tuck plants together. The concept is fairly simple. Basically you plant tall plants next to shorter plants that need less sun, to shade them. You plant vining plants next to stalk plants so they can climb them. Some flowers repel bugs, so you plant those between your veggies to discourage pests. Some plants attract beneficial bugs to eat the bad, veggie eating bugs. Those have a place in your garden too. It all makes perfect sense to me and it’s a fun way to plant. I like the idea that the marigolds are protecting the cabbage and the garlic is helping my roses.

The concept made me think about how it could translate to human interactions. We’re constantly fighting the urge to separate ourselves legally, geographically, domestically, or according to any number of racial, religious, financial, gender/sexual or other parameters. We’re placing ourselves far apart over vast emotional and cerebral areas, when it seems logical that we should all work together…supporting each other…to create a healthier, more vibrant outcome.

Why can’t we view real life as a companion plot, wherein the strong/advantaged provide support for the weaker/disadvantaged and the weaker remind the stronger how to be humble and kind and how to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. In this scenario, the unique qualities of each would be expanded and enhanced by his/her companion’s unique qualities. Everybody contributes. Everybody wins. Everybody grows.

It sounds like a good way to live to me.