Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Love Bites

Available on Amazon
Sometimes, love hurts.  As wonderful as it is to love and be loved, it’s equally painful.  It can be a lover, a sister, a friend, a cousin.   A friend once told me that if it hurts, it isn’t love, but I’m not so sure about that.

See, when you love someone, you become vulnerable, because to be able to love, you must let down your defenses.  You can’t love someone from behind your castle walls.  Sorry. It just doesn’t work that way. And when you lower your drawbridge, and your knight in shining armor crosses the moat, well, it’s not always a fairytale.  Sometimes it’s more like a paranormal romance. Like Olivia Hardin’s Bitten Shame, maybe.

I read this book while I was going through some love hurts moments with a family member.  As I was fielding emails and texts and phone calls on the latest drama, I buried my head in Jill’s world. I oscillated between her past
– where the love of her life, Doc, lives—and her present – where she lives half a life.  And I cried.  I have to say, a book gets a special place on my virtual shelf when it can move me. And this book moved me at a time when I needed a good excuse to cry.

Jill is a vampire, struggling with loneliness, heartbreak and regret.  I dig it. The struggles, I mean.  I can only imagine the vampire problems, but the other stuff, yeah, check. And then there's the whole sadness about...well, I won't give it away, but it broke my heart to know the regret she lived with.  So much regret that she wasn't sure life -such as it is- was worth struggling with, anymore.  And in the midst of all this, I admire how she loves – with all her might, even when she’s angry.  And with a deep compassion.

As a vampire, she wrestles with the darkness inside her and its a battle she almost loses, in more than one way.

We all struggle with this darkness. My family member is struggling with darkness and I am struggling with it, too.  And every day I choose to love this person, just as Jill and Doc in Bitten Shame chose to love each other.  And along with choosing to love someone, we have to make choices to stick with the light.  And we don't always.  We fall from grace and say something we regret or do something we wish we hadn't.  But here's the key, the more choices we make to stay with the light, the easier it becomes and the further away the darkness recedes.  Jill learns about this.

And, thank god Olivia Hardin has such a great talent for blending the deep emotional stuff with light-hearted humor.  Even though I was right there in the trenches with Jill, I was also so glad to be there when she’s dancing and cracking jokes and painting.  Olivia plays with the light and dark and the picture she paints is beautiful *sniff*.  So when the dark stuff takes over, I know I won’t drown in it.

When we do get dragged down by the pain we have to deal with, we shadow-box with it, and so does Jill.  She certainly fights her demons, and I fought alongside her, tapping away on my smartphone, refusing to give up, refusing to fight with my loved one.  I told them, “What are you hurt about? Because I’ve always loved you and stood up for you?  Don’t pick a fight with me, because I won’t fight with you. I’m just going to love you. So there.”

I know, real mature, right?  Well, maybe it is, I don’t know. I don’t have the answer, and neither did Jill. But someone else might…Well, read the book.  You won’t be disappointed.

And, hey, there is light out there and in you. Hold on to it with everything you’ve got.  You never know, that star you wish on might bring you what you need, if not what you want.  We can’t have everything, can we?

Much love and light to you!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy Giveaway!

eReading on the cheap and several authors gave away a complete set of The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy!


The winner chose print copies of the books and is happy, happy, joy, joy!! Congratulations!!

Check out these amazing books by these incredible authors! Click on the cover to find out More!!

Coming Soon!


Literary Addicts - A Community for Book Lovers Officially opens next week!
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Good Karma Kindle Giveaway!

I'm about to venture into virgin blogger territory *blushes*:  I've joined up with Blog It Forward to offer y'all an opportunity to win a free Kindle.  Rafflecopters are fairly simple - the more links you like and tweeter's you follow, the more entries you get.  Think of this as a win-win scenario - you get to improve your karma, help out some awesome bloggers and authors AND get the chance at instant Karma - a free Kindle in return.  Give it a whirl, folks. Fill out the form below.  Please pass this on!  The more the merrier!

Welcome to the Blog it Forward Kindle Giveaway!
We are happy to have teamed up with a bunch of awesome bloggers to offer one of you an Amazon Kindle! Fill out the rafflecopter form below to enter! The more you do, the more entries you get and the better chance you have! This giveaway closes on Jun 22nd 11:50pm est and is open Internationally. The winner will get an Amazon Gift Card to buy the Kindle. *If you are a blogger and would like to join the Blog it Forward team, check out our website and join in the fun!* a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Sneak Peek

7/03/2012 UPDATED! Got some great feedback and edited. Check it out! 

I feel brave enough today to give you a sneak peek at my current work-in-progress.  I'm almost done the second draft and so much has changed from one draft to the other, I'm almost writing a new novel, almost.  Here's the opening scene, just enough to wet your appetite. 

Excerpt from Enlightened, Chapter 1

Buried in darkness, Loti tossed and turned in a whirlwind of dreams.  Her husband limped through the sliding glass doors of the cancer treatment center as she rushed up to take his arm, but he jerked it out of her grasp.  Biting her lower lip to quell the quiver, she pleaded up at him with startling blue eyes, but his gaze was fixed on the ground, his brow pinched.
“I can walk,” he growled.
Not knowing the right thing to say, she just nodded.  A strong wind tossed her hair and threw dead leaves into her face, more and more swirling around her until she couldn’t see him anymore. Frightened, she swatted in vain at the rustling tornado, crying out “David!”
And as quickly as the wind blew in, it died down, the leaves drifting around her feet, revealing the river rocks of their fireplace, firelight dancing over their glossy surface. Her legs suddenly weak with an unknown dread, she collapsed into her recliner.  Rubbing her hands fretfully over the supple leather, the skin on her arms tightened into goose bumps, and she wrapped a knit throw around her shoulders.  She retreated into one of the safe places she built over her lifetime – this time the dark, quiet room in her head where she imagined her emotions couldn’t get ahold of her. The flames twisted and stretched, straining behind the fireplace glass.  Her stomach tightened into an all-too familiar knot as the air thickens around her, heat filling the dark corners of the room.  Wheezing, she pressed her hands to her chest. 
She licked dry and sticky lips, swallowed, wincing at her sore throat.  A trembling hand lifted a water goblet to those dry lips, and with a growing horror she watched the water simmer and bubble, transforming into blood. Screaming, she threw the gruesome wine onto the hardwood floor and as if in slow motion, it shattered into a million, tiny shards that each caught and reflected the moonlight. The stiff liquid oozed, extinguishing every pin prick of light, one by one, until they were all gone.
“You’re mine,” a deep voice whispered. 
Loti sat straight up in bed, clutching the white duvet to her chest, her heart banging, a thin sheen of sweat glistening on her forehead.  As her dark bedroom came into focus, the dream melted away like a puff of warm breath in cold air, leaving behind an untethered fear.  She dropped her head in her hands.  These weird flashback dreams about David had been going on for months, but this one was unusual, sinister somehow.  The other’s had left her sad, especially the ones where they made love one last time, but this one… this one.  She ran both hands through her long, brown hair, trying to remember what had scared her so much.  A broken glass?
But the more she tried to conjure the images, the further away they slipped.  She shook her head in frustration.  Let it go, she thought. Sliding her hand over the cool, flannel sheet on David’s side, she collapsed back to the bed, fighting back the swell in her throat.  It hurt, but she swallowed it, anyway, the lump settling in her spasming stomach. Tiny beads of sweat broke out on her upper lip, and she buried her face in David’s pillow, inhaling the fading scent of him.  She hadn’t washed the pillow case since he died.   As she shifted to wipe a tear from her lashes, it slid down her upturned cheek, eyelids fluttering and opening briefly, then closing. Her labored breath slowed; her pained expression softened.
Morning sun glared through the parted curtains making Loti grimace in her sleep. Rolling over onto her back, she draped a protective arm over her eyes.
“Up and at’em, Atom Ant,” she groaned. She pushed herself upright, squinting at the invading sunshine, fumbled for the green damask curtain and tugged it shut.  One eye opened at a time until she could bear the light, then she heaved herself out of bed and stumbled towards the bathroom.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Be A Bridge Builder

Your life is yours, no question.  Do what you want.  But never forget you touch many others with every nuance of your existence.  Smile or don't smile at the sales clerk in the grocery store:  It makes a difference.  Raise your voice or talk softly to your child: he will carry the experience with him for the rest of his life.  He may not remember the exact incident, but the pattern will shape who he is.  And those are just the day-to-day actions with big impact. 

Then there are the deliberate decisions – whether to go to a conference or what you do with your life.  Let me tell you how those decisions converged in my life this week (you knew it was coming ;-)).

So I had more or less decided I couldn’t go to this doTerra essential oils conference.  I couldn't make it work for myself and my family, so not happening.  Just when I made the decision, I get a voicemail from a friend.  She has a complimentary ticket and would I like to have it?  My jaw drops - and I have to say yes.  I trust the serendipity in my life – and I believe that the universe conspires to help adventurous souls.  I like to think I'm one of those souls.  So, yeah, I have to go.

As soon as I said yes, I started gnawing the worry bone about how much time this would take away from writing, how to get the kids from school and who's going to watch them?  I stressed over the stress this might cause my dear husband.  He has endured 10 years of fitness conferences and yoga retreats several times per year.  He’s 100% supportive, but how much is a guy supposed to take?

The day of I'm still scurrying around making phone calls, letting the floor guys in while my dh gets the kids to school, gathering stuff and rushing out the door, hoping to high heaven there's no traffic. Ha!  Northern Virginia never fails to disappoint. So I'm late and flustered, but my friend texts me where she's sitting. I find her and collapse in my chair.  She puts a bottle of sandalwood essential oil on the table between us and I just about cry right then.  I'm goofy that way.  She tells me someone gave it to her and to help myself whenever I wanted (<---this right here, what you do matters).

I love sandalwood.  It is my favorite essential oil.  And the real stuff is expensive.  Did she know that I needed that right then?  I don't know, but this lady is definitely intuitive and has learned to trust her instincts.  But there’s no way whoever gave it to her would have any insight about me.  That was cool, and I learned a lot about the company and the oils day one, but the most amazing thing happened the second day.

A medical doctor presented some information - and to be honest, I can't remember the last two thirds of his lecture because one statement blew me away.  He said something I didn't know: When doctors take their oath to be licensed, they swear not to recommend anything that hasn't been approved by the FDA.  And if they violate that oath and they are sued, they're screwed.  Light bulb moment! .(<---this right here?  You never know how what you say will affect someone).

My brain is now building steam and a key part of my novel clicked into place.  Like a broken steam pipe the story erupted, screeching in my head, and I had to write.  It was all about my antagonist, the most important part of any story - the conflict, the source of the hero's plight.  And I had not been able to nail him - he was a mystery to the other characters and a mystery to me, his creator.  Stymied for weeks, I was desperate for him to reveal himself.  He was way too cardboard-cutout-bad-guy - made a bad choice for selfish reasons and it just didn't work.  Blah.  Hate an undeveloped pivotal character - really hate under-developed antagonists. 

So I get lost in the story and the next thing I know someone else is speaking.  I've heard this guy before and he's good, so I pause to listen.  I'd gotten as far as I could with the story, anyways.  And at the end of his presentation he quotes a poem that sets off church bells in my head.  (<----Do I have to type it?) I remember it!  I was a frickin' English major. I have tons of forgotten poetry buried under 2 inches of mental dust.  I look it up on my smartphone and my stomach flips. Drumgoole.  Yes!  It’s a simple poem, but one I remember very well.

And suddenly I know how my novel will end!  It’s a huge surprise to me and I’m writing it, trying not to cry in a banquet room of hundreds.  I blubber for a figment of my imagination, the pain and suffering and how it all could have been avoided. There are also tears of joy because, once again, I let serendipity be my guide and a bridge appeared where an abyss once was.  I'm a writer, we're weird. 

My friend, who had to sit elsewhere that day because she was one of the presenters, comes over to me at lunch and I'm still crying.  She starts, "Wasn't that wonderful-hey, are you okay?" Struggling to speak, I tell her the thought that has me bawling:  that our lives, our very lives are bridges, not just for the fair-haired youths that pass this way in the twilight dim, but for every person we come in contact with. 

Think of it this way: Dr. Phil likes to say that we are either contributing to a situation or contaminating it and there is no neutral ground.  Whether you smile at the grocery store clerk can be a bridge, helping them along in life or it can be just one more thing to get in their way. 

How you live your life matters, the attitude you bear matters, because you are a bridge builder.  You can be happy or you can be miserable.  You can contribute in a positive way to this world, or you can drag everyone else down with you.  Your choice.

I know you’ll choose wisely.  I believe in you.

Oh, and here's the poem.

The Bridge Builder
by William Allen Drumgoole

An old man,going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way.

You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build a bridge at the eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head,
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said.

"There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim.
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Breakin' a Sweat

Whatever you're feeling right at this moment, embrace it!  I once heard Deepak Chopra say the only way passed the pain is to feel the pain.  So even if its not something pleasant, open your heart to it.  And if its a giddy-morning-high-on-life kinda day, embrace that, too.  Don't be afraid its too good to be true.  Its reality.  Live it. Let me tell you why.

I had the most serendipitous day and night yesterday.  I don't know if it was the supermoon that I couldn't see because of the pouring rain or just my open heart to whatever the universe had to offer me, but it was fan-freakin-tastic.  It started with a lazy morning sipping coffee on the veranda (well, my tiny, cantilevered deck) with my thought-provoking significant other.  The kids bounced around and laughed and bugged us and I actually teared up when the gratitude for my life boiled over - wow!  What had I ever done to deserve this kind of bliss?  But then it hit me, oh-hell-to-the-NO!  I've worked my ass off to get where I am, in more ways than one.

And as my dear friend, Bridget, told me in a facebook post, I never gave up.  And I will never give up.  Riding on that emotional thermal, I took off for our town's street festival, where I just wandered about with my family, eating hot dogs and drinking lemonade.  Doesn't sound all that exciting, but when your barriers are thin, life is a kaleidoscope.  The smell of grilling chicken kabbobs, the muggy Virginia spring afternoon, the church group singing and clapping their hearts out, the Elvis impersonator, the moon-bounce.  Nice.

After that, my kids went to a baseball game with some friends and my dear, sweat husband took his Saturday afternoon nap and left me, ecstatic, in front of the computer to work on my latest work-in-progress.  I have my sweaty moments when I wonder who the hell I think I am, writing this book.  Who's gonna buy it?  Do I really think I've got the instincts or the talent?  But, no, we smack the self-critic in the back of the head and toss him out the window.  He gets no face time. Period.  And you know what?  The doubts don't matter at all, because this is what I was born to do, no question.

While I worked on rewriting a couple chapters I suddenly tapped into the connection and it oozed out of me, straight from the gut.  Ever wonder what "channeling" would be like?  This is it.  I'm not writing; something is speaking through my tapping fingers.  I got all choked up about the revelation of my leading lady and the raw truth of who we all are.  We are sparks of the Divine and we are meant to live out-loud, not some small, trembling life of "quiet desperation".  Thpppttt!!! to that.

Then,(oh, there's more), the family booked it for a late dinner at the Brightwood General Store.  It was unusually quiet for a Saturday night and I got to talk to the owner.  As we chatted over the counter I noticed a couple copies of a book laying there and picked one up.  I'm waiting on permission from the author to post about it here, but suffice it to say, it is on my nightstand as I type.  The more I bantered with the owner, the more I felt that inevitable turning of the wheel (thank you, Stephen King).  This was where I was supposed to be and who I was supposed to be talking with and what I was supposed be doing.

I walked away with a new character idea, a solution to a personality development conundrum for another character, and a great local tie-in for my book series.  I was doing the happy dance in the car all the way home to Goldfish's Fort Knox.  The night ended with hubby sharing some amazing videos that rocked my soul - and now I am hooked on Skrillex, btw.  I think the music and images in those videos speak to embracing your life, whatever it is and making it awesome, wonderful, fantastic, amazing.

If you are unhappy, feel it.  Then work to get yourself where you want to be.  If you are surrounded by morons and assholes, look to yourself.  Are you where you need to be?  Do you even know what will make your heart sing? And if you're already grooving to your own tune, I'm happy for you, man!

Need some inspiration?  Check out one of the videos my dear husband shared with me.  The music is Breakin' a Sweat by Skrillex.  Live your life.  Break a sweat. Nobody else can do it for you.