Tuesday, January 29, 2013



Are you a risk taker? Push limits? Bend the rules? Have you ever done something borderline (or not) illegal and got away with it? Your deep…dark secret. Or do you step on the cracks in the sidewalk? Walk under ladders? Own black cats just so they cross your path daily?

One is a "hang glider," the other a "skydiver." So what's the difference?

Hang gliding requires the use of tactical skills. If you know how to maneuver correctly and catch the right air currents, you can sail hundreds of miles. You coast silently above the earth, deciding the direction you'll take. The duration of your flight depends on how long you can physically hold the kite. 

For me, that means walk off the edge and plummet to earth. I have zero upper-body strength, so unless I catch the right current, my concentration isn't on flying, but landing.

Sky diving is for the adrenaline junkie. It's the rush of free-falling—completely uninhibited by anything. No strings, no rules, and deafening silence.

To step out of a plane; backwards and witness the sky up close and personal, or "kamikaze" (falling forward) and experience the heart-thundering rush of watching the world below through your own personal zoom lens, surpasses the hesitation of walking off a ledge with a kite already open.

Your safety net is folded and strapped to your back—not unfurled, rigid, and already catching the wind. Your life basically is at the end of a rip cord.

Your flight time, however, is limited and there comes the point of "no-return" where you must decide…open the chute or become a human puddle. Again, the adrenaline rush kicks in. How far can you safely push the envelope—enjoy ultimate freedom? And then the "what if" factor dances in your brain…what if the chute doesn't open? The back-up chute isn't positioned correctly?

Because (a) I am a control freak, and (b) a mega pansy-ass, I could never literally skydive. The same goes for hang gliding, although of the two and given no other option, like a root canal without anesthesia, I would choose this option (slower death and I could spin on the monkey-bar for old-time sake). True, when I was young, impetuous, and believed in such myths as "trust me baby" from the mouths of hunky heartthrobs, I actually considered sky diving (this is also where I must confess to possibly being old enough that hang gliding hadn't yet become a thrill seeking sport and my pet was a real Tyrannosaurus Rex).

So how does this fit you as a person? A writer? Easy.

How do you approach life? Your work? Your writing? Do you jump into things without evaluating everything you're going to need to complete the task and just deal with the speed bumps when they happen? If you're a writer, then you're probably a panster. A skydiver.

If you must have everything organized, arranged, your research complete and notes nearby (perhaps suffering a tidbit of OCD) before you start a project, then you are a hang glider, and if a writer, a plotter.
Both have their pros and cons. If you over analyze a project (edit a story to death), spend countless amounts of time in research, some probably unnecessary, then you've wasted time instead of gaining ground. You are gliding over the world, taking in all the scenery, and in some respect, avoiding the landing. A hang glider.

Writers understand this all too well. We edit, rewrite, re-edit, scrap, cut, pull our hair out, bare our teeth at loved ones, and end up hunched over our desk, our noses buried in chocolate and tears of frustration washing the residue from our cheeks. 

Yes, organization is necessary. We can't focus if too much clutter surrounds us physically or emotionally. But we have to be careful that we don't purposely pirouette for the sake of spinning. Sooner or later, we're going to crash if we don't make the decision to land.

While I've thought of myself as more conservative—a "hang glider," after writing this blog I find myself to be the opposite. I'm skydiving, free-falling, and praying my chute will open before impact. I hate itineraries. I love to explore side roads—take the scenic route (usually inside a car or a vehicle that can outrun wildlife if I'm in the woods). When I go on vacation, I don't want a timetable to follow. I want freedom.

As a writer, I love the thrill of creating in the moment—the rush of having a story unfold with characters playing out the scenes in my head as I vigorously type. That's probably why I hate editing. There are "rules" to follow and deadlines to be met. I've made procrastination an "art." But when I'm done and ready to upload my story to share with the world, I feel unbridled relief when my feet hit the ground (or the publish button) and my chute settles behind me, knowing I've "landed."

That lasts two seconds. I'm back in the plane and feeling the rush again as I climb each level, waiting to jump all over again.

"Riley's Pond" was my first jump and I soon discovered that cords get tangled easily and wind currents (critics and sales) can cause turbulence and make you anticipate a crash landing instead of a soft one, making you fearful of wanting to take the risk again. But I've survived a few rough lessons, learned some new techniques on packing the chute (which is bright yellow – more on that later) and I'm poised on the platform—the deafening roar of air rushing the sides of my plane, my heart in my throat.

My "Designer Genes" trilogy launches soon with Book One "The Boyfriend Cut" (gorgeous cover to the right courtesy of Kelli Ann Morgan, Author of "The Rancher" and owner of Inspire Creative Services) and from now until "jump day" I'll blog something to tie in a part of the story with life, either personal or professional.
Under the tab above, you'll find the excerpt from the story where Marli learns to "skydive." Sorry, no spoilers just know it's a very important part of the story. 

So when it comes to "risky business," either personal or professional, are you a hang glider or a skydiver? I've got to say either way, the view is breathtaking.


As always, thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Please note, this is a sensitive area of discussion and I'm sure there are those who may not share my opinion, so please accept my apology beforehand. I do not intentionally mean to offend anyone (in particular my friends who write the edgier stuff) and certainly respect your right to disagree with any part, or all, of my take on this subject. This is my personal opinion and not meant to be taken out of context, but is a topic I  have strong feelings on, and dear to my heart on a personal level. With that said . . .

I ran across this blog from Twitter the other day and it is exactly what my editor (whom I adore emphatically) has accused me of with my male characters in Designer Genes. Wow! First it felt like a slap, but then more like a bonk on the head to get me to realize . . . damn she's right!


In the above article posted on "The Blog" from the Huffington Post, Vanessa Van Edwards makes some alarming points to support this concept many authors are guilty of (moi included, unfortunately). She targets the Twilight Series mainly because this is where the shift in Young Adult romance happened . . . or I should say exploded.

A note here. I write Young Adult Romance through many sub-genres from futuristic/dystopian (which is the platform for my"Designer Genes" trilogy), historical/time travel, to contemporary love stories. This blog (or soapbox) was meant to focus on the Young Adult/New Adult (whatever the hell it is) fiction books. However, some of the Adult fiction novels stealing the limelight, may be guilty of the same things discussed in the Huffington Post blog. While BDSM is a lifestyle choice, it is being portrayed through the literary platforms as the "norm" for sexual relationships. "Sexy." (Wait . . . don't stone me yet.)

The scary thing is young readers (our children and grandchildren) read books far older than their age and  may get a false impression that this lifestyle is what will be expected of them in a physical relationship. And this isn't just our girls. Boys are reading this stuff, too, and the messages they receive are confusing. Do girls want this? Should I do this? Do I want to do this to a girl? The list goes on-and-on and I've never been more grateful that my kids are grown because if I had hormone-crazed teenagers maneuvering this phase of life, I'd be scared as hell. We'd be having many long rides in the car. (This is what I did with my teens when we needed to discuss delicate matters - they can't jump from a vehicle traveling 70+ mph down the freeway).

In my books I have the sexy, flawed heroes and heroines who surrender their hearts (and sometimes a little more . . .), but I didn't realize that some of the strong character traits I gave my heroes may, in fact, reflect unsolicited dominance -- a form of abuse.  When I found my new editor/therapist/literary trainer she immediately called one of my stronger male characters a "douchebag." She even said I should just "throw glitter on him and stick him in the sun." Yeah, I had to lick my wounds on that one. Now when I send her revisions, I specifically make reference to having hopefully removed all "douchebaggery-stalking-injunction-worthy traits."

But to me, what I wrote sounded romantic and sexy. Wrong. Here's the points Van Edwards touched on, some that I was guilty of and my editor suggested I change. These are only highlights, with my personal slant. The blog goes into further detail using examples from the Twilight series and movies.

1.  "Love scars are cherished."  Bella proudly wore her bruises as badges of her lover's strengths, admiring them in the mirror, and in the movie, each black & blue dot holding a "cherished memory." Recently, I've ran across a couple YOUNG ADULT BOOKS that associated physical pain with sexual arousal. Yep, rubbing shoulders with Harry Potter on the bookshelf, are stories written about other "special powers." I am proud to say I'm not guilty of this one in my teen reads. Now there are books that refer to cutting, hair pulling, and other drastic measures used to relief emotional pain, and these are real life, sadly, but they're not projected with any sexual connotation . . or shouldn't be.

2.  "Smothering behavior is romantic." Okay, this is where my editor caught me. I had my male character following my heroine out of a sense of wanting to protect her . . . but she wasn't really in danger. It was more from a misguided issue of jealousy, which I had not established grounds for in the story. "Douchebaggery-stalking-injunction-worthy" behavior. By showing my heroine spineless and blindly accepting my hero's stalking and dominating behavior as romantic, she looked "weak," not "vulnerable," which is what I didn't want. Weak characters are boring and death to a story.

3.  "Dangerous sentiments are romantic." Whew. Dodged that bullet. I never fell for this line of crap as a teenager, so it never crossed my mind to write it in this context. Van Edward's recall of Jacob's behavior ("Eclipse") is a prime example, though, and I had one of those "I could-have-had-a-V8" headsmack moments when I realized as a reader and Twihard fan, I thought this was acceptable, if not adorable! Poor Jacob! Gag.

4.  "The most desired women don't eat." Again, I was found "not guilty." Anyone who has suffered, supported, or been through the emotional trauma eating disorders cause (and death is a consequence of starving your organs) knows how dangerous this thinking is. Again, Van Edwards points to Bella never eating in front of Edward...always having butterflies that stole her hunger, blah-blah-blah.

"Skinny is sexy." "Boys don't like fat girls." "If you gain weight, you'll lose him." Garbage! And any girl (or woman) who succumbs to this convoluted way of thinking needs their head examined. Also, any boy (man) who would dump someone they care about because she gained weight, and then believes such shallow, selfish crap justifies their d**k-brained behavior, needs serious help. It's shameful and disgusting.

5.  "Lying to parents is justified and unpunished." I'd even add to that "lying is justified and not accountable." Van Edwards again points the constant instances where Bella is always sneaking around and lying to her father...and not getting caught? Life-threatening situations (um, she ends up in a hospital because she just happens to run off to Phoenix without a word; disappears for 3 days and there's no "Amber Alert" even though she's a minor; and in "Eclipse" where she's camping overnight on a mountain side in freezing temperatures while her father is investigating suspicious deaths and yet Bella can only think about her "douchebaggery-stalking-injunction-worthy loverboy") and yet again, we Twihards accepted the whole package . . . and swooned.

Yes, I was found guilty of this, but not pistol-whipped by my editor because I do show my characters getting caught and suffering consequences for their bad choices. I also show my characters learning something from their mistakes that help them when faced with a crossroads in the future.

A lot of today's popular Young Adult/New Adult (and some adult) romance fiction do not portray "learning experiences." In fact, there's usually entire chapters where heroines, especially, repeat the same mistakes and then stand there, usually scantily clothed, scratching their head and wondering "how did this happen?" And the reader thinks "oh you sweet thing, he just loves you so much."

6. "Violence is shown as acceptable behavior and a sign of masculinity." A romantic symbol of strength. Isn't the world we live in violent enough? Do we really need to paint it as a revering quality in our characters? Yes, Romance's greatest conflict is the love triangle and when you're dealing with hormonal overloads and raging jealousy that clouds commons sense (and I'm talking teenagers, although adult men seem to revert to adolescent behavior under the same circumstances) there's going to be the fist fights; the parking lot brawls. But these should be the result of defending another's honor or a shield of protection for an immediate danger, not as a way to "keep" someone close to the heart.

Peer pressure used to be the mainstream in YA, but now it's boyfriends' (and girlfriends') manipulative/dominating influence, and while there are great stories that show how young adults come to recognize this behavior as unacceptable and get help ("Dreamland" by Sarah Dessen; "Stay" by Suzanne Colasanti), lately more stories portray it as the preferred, "sexy and loving" behavior girls (and boys) should WANT in a romantic relationship.

So here's my point to all of this. First, I'm grateful to my editor for catching me adding to this dangerous, yet popular trend, and while she never forces me to change anything in my writing (always, "it's your story"), she made me realize this isn't something I'd find acceptable in a relationship, or would want my daughter, granddaughters, or friends to believe acceptable behavior either, so why would I write it as such. It's not sexy. It's dangerous on many, many levels.

Second, I wholeheartedly believe, support, and defend an author's "right to write" anything. ANYTHING. I do NOT agree with censorship, boycotts, or vicious criticism of any author's work, and will rally to defend any of my writing comrades who fall prey to such simple-minded antics. While that might sound a bit contradictory to what I've posted, it's not. I'm not opposed to what someone writes, I just worry how it's being portrayed, especially to young readers. A very thin line, and as I've discovered in my own writing, one that's a faint gray and easily crossed.

Authors in general are not moral gatekeepers, but as a Young Adult/New Adult author I personally feel a sense of responsibility to portray romance through the emotionally charged phase of life where kids morph to adults, in as positive light as possible and still keep it realistic. "No glitter" and definitely no abusive behavior represented as an acceptable form of "love." Again, there are certain lifestyle choices, but they are just that --  "choices" and should be written as courses mutually decided and consented to within an already meaningful relationship -- not forced or manipulated, and not represented as the "only" way to have a satisfying, "sexy" physical relationship.

Personally, I don't believe it should be ever be written as a character's "first" experience either. I think they should be shown stumbling through clumsy, awkward, sometimes heartbreaking, but more innocent romantic scenarios before choosing anything alternative. Again...just my opinion. It's "your story."

Okay, feel free to "stone" me. I've thrown my hunky "douchebag" in front of me to take the blows. Isn't that romantic? Sexy?

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

And the Winner is . . .

TA - DA.... Wait. Before I tell you my decision, I must paint the picture...tell the convoluted story.

In my last blog I left you breathless with anticipation of what I was going to do about my extravagant indulgence. I agonized about what to do, loaded my package in the car twice to return the items, but just never quite had time, or the desire to part with my treasures...racking up 18% interest each day I held on to the little beggars.  Then two days before Christmas, a wonderful twist of fate.

As I've explained or complained, hubby is officially retired...and bored. I try to keep the sink piled with dirty dishes for him to wash in the morning and laundry piled to an impressive height to give him something to do in the afternoons. Even the dog helps out by pushing his 80 lb body through the door whenever it's carelessly cracked open larger than two inches, making a mad dash for my office and leaving a trail of large paw prints across the tile floor. But despite our efforts, hubby still manages to find large blocks of time to peruse various sites that "sell stuff." I threatened to put passwords on all the computers after he found his "sensational deal" and purchased a second Harley Davidson off Craigs List.

His latest cyber hangout...eBay.  Unfortunately, hubby isn't as "seasoned" in the bidding game and learned about the "buy it now" feature the hard way. He was eyeballing a new guitar (he's been in a rock band ever since I've known him) and happened to put in an "offer." The guitar disappeared off the site a few hours later when he got up the nerve to show me. The next morning he checked his emails and guess what? He won his guitar!

Yep. God moves in mysterious ways. Hubby was ensnared in his own trap and had to pay the piper. Guilt, remorse, and eyes begging forgiveness for his impulsive behavior stared at me. Of course being the loving, understanding spouse that I am, I consoled him while my inner goddess donned her dancing shoes. Christmas morning...I pulled out my purchases. "Santa" couldn't say anything, especially when I handed him the printout confirming his PayPal purchase and shipment date. A few chords from the Hallelujah chorus echoed in my brain when he conceded his defeat and said I could keep whichever one I wanted.

The problem still remained, however...which one? After a week of research, including several discussion forums and a membership to Consumer Reports, I made my decision.  Drum roll please...


Kindle won over iPad Mini...on the following points.  Besides the Dolby speakers and awesome HD screen - and it is beautiful... here's the differences that swayed my decision. With the latest "ice cream" software technology, the graphics on Kindle Fire HD are sharper, no glare when reading, even with the clear screen due to no layer of air between screen and tablet itself.  Apple products have "airspace." I watched a product video on the Apple site to confirm this.  Kindle Fire HD has 1G memory, iPad Mini has 516 MB of storage.  Kindle Fire HD's processor is faster - 1.5GHz vs. 1.0GHz from iPad Mini.  I experienced this with a friend's iPad Mini - had to wait for things to download and there were dead spots in the WiFi. My Kindle downloaded faster and there were no dead spots in my office with the WiFi.

The other thing that Amazon's Kindle Fire HD can do that Apple's iPad Mini cannot, is multitask. I can have my music going, a book open, along with my email and Facebook without any issue. The iPad Mini can only do one function at a time. And lastly, Apple can't support sites that use Adobeflash (which is the latest platform used). The two features that made it hard to give up the iPad Mini were the front and back camera (Kindle only has a front facing, but you can turn it around for video or buy an adapter with a rear-facing camera) and the "Facetime" feature. However, Kindle Fire HD does have Skype. I even found a way to side load my iTunes onto the Amazon Cloud and play them on my Kindle Fire. So far I've found all the apps I want and a few new ones. All my email accounts loaded effortlessly and my Netflix movies are awesome in HD.

If you are an Apple diehard, I'd wait until this fall to get your iPad Mini.  That's right.  Apple already has the iPad 5 coming out in April and an updated iPad Mini slated for September, which is supposed to have the retina display screen. Well worth the wait. I know 7 inches shouldn't make a difference, but it does. I didn't realize I'd bought the 8.9 size Kindle Fire HD until Christmas morning and I'm so glad I got the larger size. Worth the extra bucks. As far as the complaints about the advertisements, I only have one ad (picture only) on the screen when I turn it on.  There are the "recommended for you" displayed below your sections, however, under Device Settings, you can turn off that option.  Voila, no hassles - at least with my version.

Okay, I'm stepping off my Amazon soapbox. No compensation given for my blog-infomercial. Just my preference. I'm still pinching myself. For me, this was the best choice. For someone else, it might not be. I will admit the Bestbuy salesclerk had to pry the iPad Mini box from my hands. I felt like I dropped off an unwanted kitten to the pound. I hurried home and downloaded two new books, ordered a bright red cover, and uploaded the cover to Designer Genes...but that surprise will have to wait until next time.

Later friends. Thanks for stopping by!