Sad, Sad America

sad-americaAs I sit here waiting, with the rest of the country, to see the outcome of this incredibly embarrassing election, I can’t help but recall something my niece said a couple of days ago. When she found out school would be out on Election Day, she said, “But what if we can’t come back to school on Wednesday because everything blows up?” Now, you might think she literally meant the school building is in danger of exploding, but no, that’s not what she meant. What she meant is that the whole country could go up in flames because of the election. Her overly dramatic teenage brain has obviously been affected by the endless frenzy surrounding the presidential race, and like so many others in this country, she was overreacting.

I saw it as my job to reassure her that everything would be alright. “Hon-ey,” I said, “everything is not going to blow up. Listen, regardless of the outcome, it won’t be the first time we’ve had a liar or an idiot in office, and it probably won’t be the last.” I assured her that the country would survive—no matter what.

And now, I watch the states turning red and blue on my TV screen, and I wonder if our founding fathers could have ever imagined that this country—the one that they risked everything to form—could sink to depths so low. I do believe my comforting—or not so comforting—words to my niece are true. We will survive, but I also can’t help but wonder if we the people are approaching a time in which we must react to our government as our founding fathers did not so long ago. Our Declaration of Independence states, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Have we given our consent for this circus to continue? Sadly, it seems that we have. We, the American people, apparently want a government which operates similar to a reality TV show.

How much longer will we allow this type of insanity? Well, considering we are about to elect one or the other of these freak-show stars, we are guaranteed at least four more years of entertainment. Perhaps we should consider another of the statements made by our own Declaration of Independence: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” How happy are we now, kiddos? Huh? ‘Cause I don’t feel too damn happy about it.

This Is Me…New & Improved

Signing 2Not too long ago, I decided to update my author bio. Being that it can be found in several locations—Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, etc.—I guess it’s a good idea to keep it up to date. Naturally, I had to go back and read what I had written before. How can I put this delicately? Hmm . . . it made me want to puke, just one of the many mistakes I made starting out. Brand new authors have this belief—misconception really—that their stuff needs to read like it came from a big publishing house. The longer I trudge along as an Indie author, the more I realize this isn’t necessarily the case. So, here they are, kiddies, today’s words of wisdom—be authentic, be real, be yourself! Following my own advice, I’ve rewritten my own bio (which makes it autobio, but who cares?). Here is the new, improved version:

Author bio is supposed to sound like it was written by some magical PR genius, right? It’s supposed to make the author sound intelligent, interesting, but most importantly, it’s supposed to sound like the author didn’t write it. Well, let’s be honest, I’m one of the hundreds, nay, thousands, of Indie authors operating as a one-woman show. I don’t mean to brag, but I literally do it all: I write, I create book covers, I format my own books . . . and, admittedly, I write my own bio. So, here it is (in first-person, in a relatively concise fashion): I have a day job at which I ingest ridiculous amounts of coffee and leave a lasting mark on the brains of teenagers (scary), and I don’t discuss my moonlighting—writing contemporary, Southern, erotic, romantic comedy. Sometimes I think I remember what my sweet husband looks like, but I’m not one hundred percent sure. I’m Indie by choice and likely to remain that way (mainly because I’m stubborn and curse like a sailor). And I often start sentences with coordinating conjunctions . . . on purpose. So, if you’re feelin’ froggy, have a go at one of my books, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

No Freaking Rest for the Wicked

no sleepOkay so I’ve been sick with this cold, upper-respiratory, and sinus crap for a month. To say I’ve not been sleeping well is an understatement. But, now that I have some antibiotics, I was really, really looking forward to a good night’s rest (and hopefully sleeping late). So much so, that the hubby and I went to bed around 9:00 (yep, 9:00, on a Friday night) to get that good night’s sleep. Ha ha, silly me, what was I thinking? Oh yeah, did I mention we decided to sleep with the windows open because of the unseasonably warm weather? Here’s how the night went:

10:15 pm: Our little canine diva rouses me from my peaceful, albeit short, rest because she needs to go outside, again. At least I think that’s what she was saying. The saucy little bitch never communicates clearly. Anywho, I get up (mainly because my adorable husband is sawing logs and hasn’t so much as bobbled in his rhythm of sucking all the air from the room and whistling as he blows it back out). So, I let the dog out. She goes tearing from the door and runs around the house like she’s after something. Who knows? The dog is nuts. After about 15 minutes, she cuts a meandering path back to the house, stopping to smell of two trees, a bush, and a rock because, you know, she has all the time in the freaking world.

11:00ish: I start hearing the most unnatural and disturbing sound. It honestly sounds like one of the neighborhood kids is getting murdered (which is not an altogether unpleasant thought—don’t judge me). I lie there listening for a few minutes trying to decide what I’m hearing—“okay, it’s not a kid. Is it a bird? God, I don’t know. Well, it sure ain’t a cow or horse doing that kind of screeching.” After much thought and getting up from the bed to listen at the window, I was sure I had it. “It’s a goat. It has to be. So now what? Is it a baby goat (is it a kid after all)? Is it a momma goat? Are coyotes attacking or something?”

11:30 pm: The hubby finally breaks his peaceful slumber to get up and pee. By then, the bleating had become less frequent. As he crawls back into bed, I ask him to listen, but we only hear the strange screaming sound two more times. Then it stops all together. “I wouldn’t worry about it,” he says. Easy for him to say.

12:30 am: I’m still lying there trying to figure out what could have been happening to that poor little goat to make it cry like that. I consider getting up and walking through the woods, down through the creek, and up to the place where I think the goat must have been. But that’s just stupid. I mean, I’d have to get up, find my good waterproof boots (you know, so I could walk through the creek), etc … You get the point right? My brain was in overdrive.

1:45 am: This is the last time I remember looking at the clock. At some point, thank God, I finally fell asleep.

7:00 am: “Bam, bam, bam. Get up everybody, get up! Na, na, na, get up, get up.” I’m startled awake to this catchy little tune. My husband says, “What the hell is that?” Once I realize what I’m hearing, I get up and go to the window opposite the goat fiasco. There, across the street, are two kids (human ones) running around the neighbor’s yard, singing their little get up song, and banging a stick against a trashcan lid. To beat all, those kids don’t even live there. That’s their grandpa’s house. I answer my husband’s question. “Well, babe, it seems Bob’s grandkids want the whole damn neighborhood to get up [name changed to protect Bob—even if his grandkids are little asshats].”

So now, I can’t go back to sleep. I’m up at 7:15 writing a blog post to keep from marching across the street and choking out two kids (human ones). I’ve learned three valuable lessons from last night and this morning’s festivities: 1) never sleep with the windows open when you want a good night’s sleep, 2) keep your waterproof boots beside the bed just in case, 3) it’s a good idea to invest in a tranquilizer dart gun—preferably one with a pretty long range.

My Review of…Enough Isn’t Everything by K.L. Shandwick

5.0 out of 5 stars 5-stars for Enough Isn’t Everything by K.L. Shandwick

Warning: You will be hooked on this series!

KL Shandwick has created quite the interesting couple in Lilly and Alfie, two talented music students who find a strong attraction for one another. Lilly is just trying to find her way in a new place when she meets Alfie. He is that typical gorgeous rock star type that women find irresistible—all arrogance and sex appeal. The only problem is that he is not exactly emotionally available. I won’t give away too many details. I’ll just say I found myself caught up in their story. At times I wanted to strangle both of them, but the chemistry when they are together is undeniable. Together, they make one hot couple. And speaking of hot … if you like steamy sex scenes, this book is for you.

I loved it, but I do have one warning: if you read this book, you will want to read the entire series. I can’t wait now to read the next one and find out what happens between Lilly and Alfie.

Did Ammy Forget It Owns Goodreads?

I suckYou know what I find interesting? Amazon limits certain reviews because it somehow, mysteriously deems that the reviewer is a friend of the author (even if the book sale is a verified purchase). HOWEVER, Amazon doesn’t seem to care about the validity of the reviews/ratings on Goodreads (owned by Amazon). For example, (and let me preface this by saying I realize I may sound like I’m whining over a bad review, but that’s not the case) when people rate/review my books, I want to see what they said or check out the other books they’ve rated for comparison. I just noticed I have a 1-star rating on one of my books on Goodreads. Since the reader left no review, I went to check out her other ratings just to see if I could gain any insight—you know, I’m always looking to improve my writing. What I found was interesting. This particular reviewer seems to have a pattern of posting multiple ratings on the same day (like 18 one day, 10 three days later, 35 the following week). Now, I guess it’s possible that she read books for a few months but decided to save all her ratings until after she had read like 200 books, but I highly doubt it. Additionally, most of her ratings are low. Call me crazy, but doesn’t this seem odd? Shouldn’t Amazon take notice? I mean, I can handle a bad review/rating. Of course, I know you can’t please everyone all the time. A bad rating from time to time is to be expected, but damn, is it too much to ask that the reader has actually read my book?

So, Amazon, is this a problem, or what? Well . . . ? Nah, I’m sure it’s just me. I’m sure she read 63 books in two weeks and just didn’t like any of them. Okay . . . rant over and rating lowered.

True Love & Biscuits

A love story…

This morning, I was craving a steak biscuit and some dirty rice from Bojangles’, so I went. As luck would have it, I arrived at the peak time to dine with the retired and elderly crowd, or as they’re known around here, the old coffee drinkers. What I didn’t expect was for one of them to remind me of why I write romance novels, nor did I expect for one of them to make me cry.

I was tucked away at a corner table playing invisible woman and tap, tap, tapping away on my tablet screen when I overheard one sweet little grey-haired man talking about the loss of his wife. I didn’t hear him say how long she had been gone. I didn’t hear what she died of. What I did hear was him saying, and I quote (I recorded it on my tablet so I wouldn’t forget), “You know, when my wife died, I actually though about pitching a tent up at the cemetery, up at the edge of the woods, so I could be right there with her.”

I’ve been writing some emotional stuff the last few days, so I’m sort of a wreck anyway. Hearing that sweet little man speak of his grief broke my heart right in two. I actually had to turn my head, so they wouldn’t see my eyes welling up. That’s right, I cried over what was left of my biscuit and dirty rice. Shoot, I’m getting misty-eyed now just thinking about it.

The rest of the conversation only drew more tears from me. One of the ladies at the table asked him what he does to keep busy during the day. Of course, he said he visits his wife’s grave every day, sometimes three times a day.

“Do you, really?” the woman asked.

He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sometimes I stay up there for 30 minutes or more just talking to her. I know it’s just her body, not her soul, but that’s all I know to do. I just talk to her.”

I believe my unintentional eavesdropping this morning confirmed for me what I already knew—true love does exist. I would even argue that, aside from the need of food, water, and shelter, the human need to love and be loved is basic to our existence. This is why I write romance novels—because they chronicle the basic human quest of finding that one true and devoted love and overcoming adversity to make it work.

Naysayers of the genre speak of romance novels as if they are ridiculously corny, completely unrealistic, and not representative of real relationships. All I can say is, tell that sweet little grey-haired man that his devotion to his wife, a devotion that had him considering living in a tent in the cemetery just to be close to her, tell him that his love for that woman was/is unrealistic. And me…I cried all the way home from Bojangles’ because that sweet little man made me consider what it would be like to live on this earth without my husband of twenty-four years. Just the thought takes my breath and wrenches the heart in my chest.  The thought of losing him—my partner, my best friend, the love of my life—kills me. I’m sure I would be lost, just like that sweet little old man. Tell me the love I have for my husband is unrealistic?

When I write, it’s not from some fantasy land of emotion. It’s from a real place in my heart. I don’t pretend relationships are easy. Whether real or imagined, they take work. But to say that adversity cannot be overcome, to say that people cannot work through problems to achieve a real and lasting love is just stupid. So to the naysayers I say, it’s okay. Perhaps you are not emotionally ready to find meaning in my writing. Perhaps the current state of your relationships will not allow you to have hope in your heart. Don’t worry, when you’re ready, the romance genre will still be around.