Life Observations

dance3Sometimes there is nothing more amusing than watching people on the dance floor especially if there’s a little wine or beer involved and the usual inhibitions are down. I don’t care if the couple is married, dating or cruising. Music gives us permission to be sensual and flirty in public. Oh, you so know what I’m talking about. Woman become fluid, their arms lifting in the air, pressing their breasts forward. They wiggle their bottoms and shake their hips, drawing gazes in that direction. Men pump their hips to the beat of the music. They move their arms and legs, showcasing biceps, forearms and legs. Both sexes displaying themselves for their partner.
 
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paper pilesI know this phenomenon isn’t unique to me. Well, at least I’m hoping it isn’t. I’m talking about the paper lying around my house in small mounds (which seem to breed in the night while I’m sleeping! I see that smile … you know exactly what I’m talking about).

I have a stack of paper from the new medical insurance. (That I tucked into an empty cupboard to get it out of the way.) Another stack that’s accumulating as I pull together information on the new boxed set I’m involved in.  And of course there’s all the information about the houses Mr. Nina and I are looking at as we try to figure out our next move and I’m adding that to the growing mound of paperwork I need to go through. There’s the receipts that will be used during tax time when we figure our “moving expenses”.  Switching over retirement accounts and all the new registration and license information for the cars and did I mention bills … yeah, well those are in this insanely high pile on the sideboard.
 
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ConfusionChange is hard.

It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about … eating or writing habits, methods of doing things or anything else. It’s just so easy to stay with the comfortable. “Because that’s how it’s always been done” is a common mantra. But if pressed, most people don’t know WHY it’s done that way. To take that one step further, some people are unwilling to admit that times have changed and perhaps the reasons for doing something a particular way are no longer valid.

I don’t mind change. It makes life interesting. But Mr. Pierce … not so much! I like analyzing and reevaluating to streamline tasks. It’s just how I’m wired. Change is good IMO. It keeps you from falling into a routine and not growing.

But what if you want to be the voice of change? Ah, now we have something different. The change isn’t internal. It’s not something I can control about myself. It’s showing others that a change may be appropriate and beneficial.

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Shame on you … get your mind out of the gutter. I’m actually talking about something lots of authors wonder. Does the size of the STORY matter? (Didn’t see that coming from a romance author now did you?)

I’ve written all lengths of stories. From a short novella to a several full length novels and many in between. Now, if you’re looking for my opinion on the matter (which of course I’m going to offer since this is my blog) I think size makes a huge difference in a story.

But here’s ny caveat–but it depends on the genre.

I really enjoy reading erotic romance. But when push comes to shove or pull comes to … yeah, I won’t go there … anyway, I read for the other parts of the story. Like the paranormal or suspense thread. Yes, of course I want the heroine to save the hero and for them to fall into bed and hopelessly in love, but sometimes, if an erotic story goes on too long … I skip the nookie. LOL! Should I be admitting that? It’s not that I don’t dog-ear the pages for perusal later, it’s just that I’m really enthralled with how these two are going to get out of trouble or bring down the villain or make it to their happy-ever-after. So when it comes to erotic romance I prefer the short and sweaty … er, sweet. 😉
 
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I was listening to yet another famous single woman being interviewed on television today. When asked what she was looking for in a man she replied, “a sense of humor.” Is she kidding? Does she not date men? Does she not have any brothers, nephews, uncles, cousins, or male friends?

Because, in my experience, asking for a man with a sense of humor is like asking for washing machine with a rinse cycle or a new car complete with four tires. Humor comes standard on most male models. I mean really.

And it’s not the kind of humor I get. My teenage son watches Red/Green, The Simpsons, Arrested Development, Family Guy, and a host of other programs and just howls with laughter. Me? I watch them and think meh… amusing, but not… roll on the floor, split a gut, or even gaffaw kind of funny. I’ve never even made it through a whole Three Stooges movie–and I’ve tried. At hubby’s request, I sat next to him trying to laugh at all the slapstick humor. Didn’t happen.

On another occasion hubby and brother-in-law watched the same home video of one of their friends slamming into the camera at his wedding–for hours! They laughed just as hard the 87th time it replayed as they did the first time they saw it. Huh? When I was young I used to sit with my older brother and watch the Road Runner cartoon, just to listen to him laugh. And I giggled at his obvious delight in the coyote’s mishaps. But did I get it? Nope.

Now, just so you don’t think I’m without a funnybone… I do find a lot of things very funny. I love the movie Big. Tom Hanks plays a thirteen year old in an adult body… when he pushes caviar off his tongue at a dinner party… I just crack up–everytime! It’s one of my all time favorite scenes. Or the scene in The Grinch when the sleigh is headed down the mountain and poor Max the dog ends up on the back and the Grinch turns around and the dog waves and shrugs his shoulders… makes me smile just remembering. And don’t even get me started on I Love Lucy, because there isn’t an episode that doesn’t make me laugh out loud.  

So what’s my point? Well, if you had just one wish to make your guy perfect, I just don’t think you should be wasting it on humor. It’s already there. They’re hard wired with it! Romance, kindness, bedroom eyes, need I say more? Pick something from the dessert side of the menu! Why would you ask for more veggies when it already comes with the main course? I’m just saying…

Like many authors, I’m an avid reader, albeit a slow one. Mostly because I don’t allow myself the pleasure of reading until I’m settled in to bed for the night and I then read until my face falls into the pages. Sometimes an hour, but more often, about fifteen minutes. *g*

95% of what I read is romance, though I do try to mix up the genres. I’ve been on a real paranormal romance kick so I went and picked up several contemporary romances. And you know what … I could barely get through them.

Now don’t misunderstand me, the writing was stellar and the characters had great chemistry (in and out of the bedroom), but the problem for me is that nothing happened. Nothing blew up. No terrorist tried to end the world. No dragon flew in to breath fire on the town. Nothing. Nadda. Zip. Zilch. Just two people falling in love. And quite frankly, I was bored. I skimmed whole chapters and (something an author hates to hear) skipped pages at a time. I think because I kept hoping something interesting would happen to grab my attention. In both cases I got to the end and happily shut the book and tucked it into my “give away” pile.

I do like television, but I don’t sit and watch very much of it. (Mostly because Mr. Nina is a channel surfer, flipping stations at random intervals and driving me insane And I refuse to go in the other room and run another television.) I do go to the movies and though I like an action flick now and again, I’m more the romantic comedy, sweet family entertainment kind of gal. And I mention this because I don’t have to have things moving quickly to keep me focused. I’m of that generation with a pretty good attention span which is why I found this whole phenomenon interesting.

I do think my taste runs more toward the mystery/suspense end of the romance spectrum. But I’ve read my fair share of traditional romance stories in the past and really enjoyed them. I’ll even read an historical and completely fall into the story. But contemporary? Meh. It doesn’t seem to sugar my cookies anymore.

What about you? Have your reading tastes changed? Am I the only one who’s thinking traditional romances don’t have the appeal they used to have?

Because Halloween is a couple of days away I thought this week I’d share some paranormal thoughts. Today’s topic: GHOSTS. And I gotta tell you, as I type this in the dark late hours, with Sandy’s wind slashing rain against my windows, I keep looking over my shoulder, expecting some specter to be checking my spelling. *shivers*

Because folks … I know ghosts are real.

Unlike so many other paranormal entities, vampires, werewolves and fae (oh, my) I’ve seen my fair share of ghosts and I don’t mind admitting, they scare the living bejeebers out of me. I grew up in a very old house that had been built in the late 1800’s. That sucker was full of creepy sh*t, though I seem to be the only one of five children who saw/heard anything. Mystery foot falls running up and down the stairs. Attic doors that opened on their own. Lights that turned on when no one was in the room. People walking into rooms and then disappearing. You know, the sort of thing a teenager home alone doesn’t want to experience.

One of the wildest times happened when I was home alone with my boyfriend (who became Mr. Nina). We were *cough cough* studying in my room when we heard this wild lawn party going on at my neighbor’s house. Music, laughter, people talking. I opened the window to check it out (because I’m nosy like that) and guess what … there was no party outside. I pull my head back in, sure enough, the sounds of a distant party. Outside … nothing. I looked at creeped out boyfriend to confirm he was experiencing the same thing and we bolted from the room. Funny thing is, my parents came home shortly after we’d settled ourselves in the livingroom. Hmmmm. I’ve often wondered about that one.

When I was in college, my parents went through a divorce and my mom was in the house by herself a lot. She finally experienced the feet running up and down the stairs. Though she never mentioned seeing anything, I wonder if it was finally quiet enough for her to hear what had been going on around her all along.

To this day, I still sense the spiritual world. I can’t talk to them or see them, which is just fine with me, but I know when they’re there. I don’t need Ghost Hunters to confirm what I already feel. It’s the reason I can’t watch movies like Sixth Sense or Poltergeist. I replay every ghostly scene, tossing and turning at night, convinced if I open my eyes, someone will be standing over me.

My son is also sensitive. He spent many a night in my bed after he woke to find “the boy” watching over him in his bedroom. Yeeeah, I so couldn’t sleep in that particular bedroom of that house either. For the last two years we’ve been in an apartment in a refurbished mill. I understand there is a spirit in the common room downstairs … I don’t go down there. But I am grateful there is plenty of ambiant light lighting up my room at night. I never have to wonder when I wake in the night if something is haqnging in the shadows that isn’t human or feline. I liked it that way. I’m hoping the next house we buy will be the same. It keeps the nightly trip to go pee from terrorizing me. LOL!

So what about you? Do you believe in ghosts? Or do you think I’m completely off my rocker on this one? You know me. I’d love for you to share … I’m just curious like that.

(I’m also hanging out at Tabby’s Nocturnal Nights talking about writing memorable characters. She’s having a wonderful Halloween party over there. Stop by and join in the fun!)

Young Woman Looking Away from BookSince I can remember, romance books have been written in third person (character described by narrator) past tense (action already happened):

“Oh, screw you, Burkett.” Reese Colton threw his cards down as the man across the table collected the two paper IOU’s along with a pile of money. Testosterone and laughter filled the fire station kitchen. “You all suck!” Reese said before draining the drink at his elbow.

Every once in awhile I’ve picked up a book where the author wrote in third person present tense (current action):

“Oh, screw you, Burkett.” Reese Colton throws his cards down as the man across the table collects the two paper IOU’s along with a pile of money. Testosterone and laughter fills the fire station kitchen. “You all suck!” Reese says before draining the drink at his elbow.

I’ve actually read a book like this. It was odd at the beginning, but then I got into the story and barely noticed the present tense.

But now, more and more books are being written in first person. One point of view. The whole story told by the main character — usually female. Lots of young adult stories like Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series is written this way as well as EL James’s “50 Shades” series. I even picked up a mystery recently that was in first person.

Some writers do this better than others. Of course it seems to matter less if the story pulls me in and I become totally engrossed. I don’t even notice that it’s a single narrator. But other times …

Yeeeah, there are a lot of books, especially romances, where I miss that other perspective. I love being in the hero’s head … not just the heroine’s interpretation of his actions … but the actual jesus-she-smells-good-and-that-dress-hugs-her-luscious-curves-in-all-the-right-places kind of thought process. Why do I like that? I think because it makes me fall in love with the hero even as he’s falling in love with the heroine. I want to know he’s so hot for her he can’t get her all the way upstairs to the bedroom before he presses her against the kitchen wall and shows her just how much she means to him.

And you know, it’s not always the hero. I love suspense stories. When an author writes well from the villan’s perspective, it helps me as a reader understand why s/he believes they are totally justified in kidnapping and torturing all the clarinet players in their high school marching band from thirty years ago. (No, that’s not a book, but it sure could make a very disturbed villan. LOL!)

But with everything that the masses say is trending — television, phone apps and twitter, it looks like more and more books are being written in first person and readers are not only buying them … they’re buying them in HUGE quantities. It makes me wonder if some of my favorite authors are going to go in that direction.

What do you think? Is this a passing fad or are first person stories going to become the norm for our reading pleasure?

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE! With all the destruction left from Sandy (and still affecting some) I hope you and yours are safe and warm.

Everyone has their own experiences in the world…things that have happened to make them who they are and form their beliefs. In all honesty, my experience is limited. My Catholic background and middle class friends didn’t really stretch my world into the paranormal realm. It’s only since I’ve been a writer and active on the internet and on various social media, in forums, and Yahoo loops that I’ve met some very interesting people who have pushed my boundaries of the “normal world”.

Today, I want to hear your take on witches, fae, vampires, that kind of thing.

I’ve met (online) several writers who are witches. To be honest, I’m not sure what that means. I do believe they study (or practice?) Wicca and that they are part of covens. Beyond that, I don’t know much about witches. I don’t know if they cast spells or simply have a different view of the world. I do have a witch trilogy that’s been percolating in my brain for awhile so it’s one of those things on my to-do research list. If you have more information, I’d love to know.

And what of vampires? I have a friend who says there is a (coven?) of vampires in southern Maine. Not playacting people who don fake fangs, but actual non-living, non-breathing vampires. (Not like this type of human vampire.) This one stretches me beyond what I can actually fathom. I’m all about the sexy alpha vampires filling the pages of my books and hanging out on movie screens … but walking the city streets? I seriously can’t go there.

There’s also this new trend to plant faerie gardens to attract the wee folk. Like really have faeries coming to your garden? Or do people think the enchantment is as real as Santa and it’s the spirit of the idea? I don’t know. I have a friend who planted a special garden this summer, but I haven’t seen her in person to have a lengthy discussion about all things with wings.

So where do you stand on all of this? Any experience with any of the above? I hope you’ll share. Because I’m really not trying to pass judgment, I’m fascinated by all of it and would love to hear what you all think.

(I’m also hanging over at Full Moon Bites Blog chatting about other worlds. I hope you’ll swing over.)

That phrase conjurs a certain image … but it amazes me how in just a short time that image has changed.

I love technology. The devolopement of the Internet has been nothing short of amazing. I’m just awed at how quickly my story can go from a nugget of an idea to a full blown ebook novel that people can buy from all kinds of retailers. What used to take years can now take only as long as it takes me to write the book (if I’m self-publishing).

When I first began writing, I submitted manuscripts and contest entries through the mail, printing and collating them, packaging them and running them to the post office. But emailing them is so much easier. And editing? I never had to go through the process of mailing a full manuscript and receiving it back with red marks I was supposed to fix. To be honest, I can’t even imagine how it used to be done without the ease of computers sending them through cyberspace in the matter of seconds.

That being said I think this wonderful technology has robbed my children and their whole generation of the thrill of letter writing. They don’t know the fun of receiving a handwritten envelope in the mail only to open it up and find pages of words lovingly written, bringing news of home or a loved one far away. And remember when you used to go on vacation and write out postcards and actually mail them? Now it’s wireless internet and digital pictures posted on facebook that are shared with family left at home. It’s just not the same thing.

My love affair for the written word began at an early age. I moved from my very best friend when I was in second grade and for years we wrote to each other. I missed her terribly. When I was a kid I wrote stories and plays that my friends would help me perform. Late in elementary school I got my first diary. I filled that one and started another. I kept this going into early high school. I have no idea what I wrote in them because I wisely destroyed them decades ago. (No, really… it was a good decision. I was a wild child. I didn’t want anyone to know the “real” me. 😉 ) In middle school I found a penpal in Japan and wrote to her for over a year. We exchanged currency because they were so different. We sent each other pictures of ourselves, our homes and our families, allowing each other glimpses of our daily lives.

It was wonderful.

Children can do that today more easily over the internet or sheesh, on their phones. Communication is not only instanteous, it also seems to be continuously streaming. Heck, let’s face it, we can now have live interactions with anyone anywhere through Skype. But they can’t take that conversation and glue it into scrapbook like I did with the letters from my friend. I saved all of them. My children will be able to read the words of a little girl from Japan, penned by her own hand about her life in a foreign land. That’s hands-on history.

My husband and I began dating when I was a freshman in high school. When I was a junior he went to college 11 hours from home. I didn’t see him for months at a time. But during our separation we wrote. A couple of letters a week. Phone calls were so expensive we agreed to call each other only once a month. The only connection I had with him was our letters. Nothing like today where cellphones and internet keep us a moment away from each other.

But I love those letters. We both saved every single one we wrote to each other. Letters of love that speak of innocent youthful cravings and tiny drawings, some marred with tears I shed while looking at them. We wrote for the two full years he was so far away. He eventually decided to go to school closer to home so our letter writing stopped. But what lovely memories we have saved in those shoeboxes in the top of my closet. I’m not sure how appropriate some of them are, but someday I will sit and pore through them and save those fit for our children to read without blushing. Our words, scripted in our own hand (or hen scratch in the case of Mr. Nina) will remind them how much their parents loved each other.

When I went to college my mother wrote to me once a week. It was my lifeline to home. Every Friday without fail her letter arrived in my mailbox. It became a tradition for me to read it outloud to my roommate and several close friends. It was like having home right there in the dorm and sharing it with those around me. My mother had an incredible talent for painting pictures with words. So my family history is recorded in those letters I saved.

As my children came along I began keeping diaries again. I wrote letters to them on the pages before they were even born. I also kept calendars for them and recorded daily activities. I journaled in baby books (written in first person as if they made the entries), tucking in little mementos like napkins from birthday parties and locks of hair.

It’s all a wonderful written history of who we were and how we got to this point. My children love reading their baby books and the antecdotes I recorded. But in the early 90’s I got a computer. I continued to write letters to my mom, but now they were printed off rather than in my own handwriting. Eventually we got the internet and my emails and phone calls took the place of the letter writing. When my children were in college, I rarely sent them mail, but spoke to them a couple of times a week and texted them nearly every day.

But it’s not the same and I know it.

It makes me sad to lose this wonderful tradition. My children won’t have the words of love and concern we shared through their college years, because let’s face it, I don’t print out their emails and I know they don’t print out mine.

It’s such a sad thing. I guess every new technology comes with its downside.

I can say that I have passed on one tradition to my children. Without fail they sit and write thank you notes for gifts they receive at birthday, Christmas, or graduation. We started it when all they could write was their name. It’s something Beautiful Girl and Baby Girl continue to do and Little Boy Blue does when I niggle him. So they’re not long newsy letters, but at least they’re handwritten.

I’d like to tell you this has inspired me to write a letter, but I’m afraid my own letter writing days are over. I have the ability to type, but writing for any length of time is nearly impossible with my MS. I do however manage to type a letter or two now and again. But every once in awhile, like now, I pine for the days when a letter I sent in the mail meant that in another few days I’d get one back.

So what about you? Do you write letters? How do you feel when you receive a letter (even if it’s just a thank you note or a card)? You know me, I’m curious about stuff like that.

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