Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday's Words for April 27, 2016

Las Vegas, here we come!

We leave tomorrow for five days in that city in the desert. This will be our first trip this year, and my first trip since undergoing surgery last fall. We were supposed to visit Las Vegas last year, as I had every intention of attending a readers’ event in the spring that was being held there. Unfortunately, it became clear by mid-February that I wouldn’t be able to travel just yet. If it weren’t for the medication my doctor put me on at the beginning of April, I wouldn’t have been able to make that all-important trip to Texas in May.

I was disappointed to miss that reader’s conference, of course. I cherish any opportunity to attend where readers may be, and that’s especially true when I plan to meet with a member of my street team, as I planned to do last April.

But life happens and sometimes plans fall through. I promised the lovely woman I was hoping to meet that I would visit Vegas this year. I try very hard to keep my promises.

This will be my third trip to this city, and David’s fourth. The first one was in 1989. It was our honeymoon which we took on our 17th wedding anniversary. We only had a weekend at a local hotel when we got married, and that had been a gift from my brother. Our Vegas better-late-than-never honeymoon was also the occasion of my first flight. I remember, that when the plane touched down at McCarron International Airport and I got my first glimpse of palm trees, I cried. I’d never believed I would ever see a palm tree, or take a flight, or travel, period. I certainly never imagined I would go on to travel as much as we have. Growing up, I was taught that a vacation trip was something that happened every few years, if you were lucky.

Thinking back, I believe that was because (aside from priorities of the day), travel was relatively more expensive then that it is now. It took far greater of a percentage of your wages to pay for a family or even a couple’s vacation than it does today.

Our second trip to that city happened in the spring of 2002, just a few months before my heart attack. The quarry where my husband works was still family owned at that time. One of the bosses always attended the ConAggExpo which is held every three years in Las Vegas. They had previously taken an employee or two with them, usually senior people. This time, the boss’ oldest son, Randy and his wife were going, and they invited David and me to go with them. That was simply amazing and very generous, for them to pay the whole tab. And I thought it spoke volumes when they got choked up that we insisted on treating them to dinner while we were there. I would imagine even rich people like to be treated from time to time. The other very clear memory I have of that trip was seeing Cirque du Soleil. I was sitting beside Randy, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as awed as he was.

On both of those previous trips, I did gamble some. It was, after all, a part of the experience. Having seen the original Ocean’s Eleven (made in 1960 and which I’ve only seen in glorious black and white), I’d imagined the Vegas casino as a place of glamour and glitter. We did dress up one night on that first trip because I had brought a couple of really nice outfits and even though most people were just in resort wear in the casinos at night, I had to have that one night of long-held dream fulfillment. 

I’m not much of a fan of gambling anymore. Between those two excursions and a few red-eye jaunts to Atlantic City, I think I got it all out of my system. I may buy a lottery ticket, but I haven’t even visited our local casino in more than three years. There are games on line that I like to play, and most don’t cost a cent. We’ll likely gamble some while we are there this time, as we both like keno, and I may even indulge myself with a spin or two at the roulette table. But it’ll be under the heading of entertainment, for both of us. I’m past the age where I expect or even want to win a fortune.

This trip mainly will be for meeting good friends for the first time, and for taking time, just the two of us, to recharge our batteries.

That is, after all, what vacations are all about.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday's Words for April 20, 2016

With me, what you see is what you get. That’s right, I am probably one of the original WYSIWYGs. Forgive the caps. My computer grammar program insisted upon them.

I don’t put on airs. I don’t cheat, I don’t lie—well, sometimes I lie to myself, but I’m working on that; and sometimes I might not tell you the truth if I’m trying to spare your feelings, but that will be about something totally superficial. If you feel really good about how you look that is far more important than my subjective opinion.

I don’t know how many times I have been told, through my life, to “not tell other people my business”. I never could get a really good answer as to why I shouldn’t let people see where I screwed up. I believe in being transparent, because…well, because I do. I always let people see me, warts and all. I’m past 60 so I’m not likely to change. And I hope that if I do change it is for the better.

I’ve been through enough crap and lived through the consequences of enough bad decisions (my own) in my life to have come to the conclusion that honesty, humility and kindness were the best traits for me to aspire to have. I’ll tell you quite plainly my choice to do so was selfish. I wanted to be the best me I could be.

I knew I would never be beautiful; I knew I would never be skinny, or rich, or exceptionally clever. So going after any of those goals would have been a waste of time. I could never have achieved them, so all I’d get for my efforts would be constant disappointment and unrelenting frustration. Who needs those two negatives dogging them everyday?

I don’t really need to be any of those things, anyway. I need to have a roof over my head, and I do. I need to help provide for my family, and I do. I need to help others, and I do that when I can. I’m blessed because as I look around I know I have all that I need to have—and I even get a few extras, things I don’t need but thoroughly enjoy. I am blessed and highly favored!

And I am still working on being the best me I can be, because I am not there yet. I stumble, and sometimes fall hard on my ass, leaving ego bruises that take a long time to heal. Now, I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I am perfect, or even that I aspire to be so. I am still capable of making the most colossally stupid mistakes you could ever imagine. And there are days when I have the worst attitude of anyone you’ve ever met!

 My bitchiness is legendary—but fortunately, not on display very often. When it does rear its very ugly head, and I feel really awful because of it, I recall words my mother once said. At the time we were a household of three females. I couldn’t have been more than 13. My sister, six and a half years older, was at that point in her life when she was in possession of all of the secrets of the universe, and was never wrong. She liked to prod me, and she liked to nag me because even at 13, I was overweight. On this one particular occasion I thought I was going to get punished by my mother—and get it good. I don’t remember what my sister said or did, but I’d apparently had enough, and told her, in an exceptionally loud voice, to shut the hell up and leave me alone. I stomped up the stairs to my bedroom. If my door had been capable of it, I’d have slammed it.

I stewed for a couple of minutes, and then I just had to know how much trouble I was in, because in our house you didn’t talk like that. I could hear my sister complaining to our mother. I slinked out of my room, and got down on the floor beside the air vent that was just a grate between the upstairs and the downstairs. Just in time to hear my sister demand: “Well? Aren’t you going to do something about her?”

I’ll never forget my mother’s response. Her voice very matter-of-fact, she said, “No, I’m not.”

My sister clearly didn’t like not having her request/order ignored. “Why not? You can’t let her get away with being so rude!” In case you were wondering she was one of the people who taught me how to be bitchy—but I digress.

I heard my mother sigh, and then those very understanding words—words that from her were rare, indeed. “Everyone is entitled to be in a bad mood from time to time.”

Words of understanding from my mother that I held dear then, and now. And a lesson in acceptance that took me longer to learn than it should have.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: Seeing is Believing

True Blood Mate 6
AVAILABLE: Thursday, April 21st

[Erotic Alternative Paranormal Romance, M/M, vampires, shape-shifters, HEA]

“I need you, Ian” ... Those words haunt Ian Kline, mostly because he has no idea who whispered them. Ian has been dreaming about him for weeks. Each night the dreams grow stronger, more alluring, and yet Ian can never quite see his lover's face...until someone arrives to challenge Ian for leadership of his coven.

Billy spent the majority of his life as the pet of a coven leader. At night, he entered a fantasy world where his mate kept him safe from the horrors of his daily life. When his master challenges Ian Kline for leadership of his coven, Billy knows his duty and attacks, but it's a death offense to interfere in a challenge and that's exactly what Billy does when he kills the man that had held him prisoner for nearly twenty years

Recognizing that mating bond between them, Ian acts to bind them together and save his mate from execution. Keeping Billy out of trouble quickly becomes a full time job when someone from Billy's past tries to break that bond. With misunderstandings and a new threat around every corner, Ian and Billy have their hands full just trying to hold on to each other. Staying alive might be impossible.

Wednesday's Words for April 13, 2016

There is nothing on this earth harder for us to deal with than the death of a loved one. Losing family members is the worst among human experiences, and these losses stay with us a lifetime—some of the holes left in our hearts will never be filled. Having a best friend die can rock your world. It’s really hard to lose pets, too. What all these losses have in common of course, is love. We love others, and in so doing, we make ourselves hostages to their fortunes. We risk great emotional pain when we risk our hearts. We know that every living creature will die; we will die. We know this and yet the reality of death always hits us hard. We are never truly ready for that kind of heartache.

But how could we do anything else but love, and therefore, mourn when our loved ones die? A life devoid of attachments, of friendships, of family, even of pets—such a life is barely worth living, is it? You may protect yourself from pain by living in a bubble, but you also deny yourself joy, and that soul deep heavenly manna of loving, and being loved.

We were created to love. We were created to feel. We were never meant to live our lives in isolation, apart, lonely and alone. We were created to live with others, to connect with others. When you meet that one person who reaches you, touches you, and who you believe you’re meant to spend the rest your life with—a miracle happens. Two people unite their hearts and minds and souls, and become so much more than just two individual human beings. The whole they create truly is greater than the sum of their parts. Even just the two of them, together, they become a family.

The family is the basis of our societal structure for a reason. Any kind of human creation be it physical or otherwise, needs a strong, unshakable base. That, in essence, is what the family is to society. It is the base, it is the foundation, and yes, it is also the beneficiary of the society and the institutions it braces.

We create our institutions to serve us—to serve people, and most usually, people living in families.

No matter how many times you suffer the loss of those you love—be they family or friends or yes, even pets, it never gets easier. And I think it really shouldn’t get easier. People should matter to us, relationships should matter to us, not only in the day to day of living—their passing should matter to us, too. But it still hurts. The pain of loss cuts deeper than any other emotional pain we can suffer.

Knowing this, we could avoid that pain. We could choose to live a more sterile existence. We could keep our walls high, and some people do just that. They close themselves off from making new friends, or even from forming closer attachments to their family members so they can’t be hurt so badly when they die.

I know a lot of people who refuse to have pets for the simple reason that pets die. I understand that choice, but it makes me sad. You deny yourself the unconditional love a dog will give you when you don’t allow yourself to have one. You deny yourself hours of contentment you receive from cradling a purring cat, when you refuse to have one, just to avoid the pain of losing it.

That is, as I said, one choice you could make on how to live. But there’s another, and in my mind, better way to live.

You could say to hell with being cautious. You can choose to live a full life, rich with experiences and love, rich with every emotion under the sun. Laugh with your whole body; cry when your heart breaks; celebrate when you win some of life’s battles. Breathe deeply, savor the flavors, live your life as if every single day is the most precious gift you will ever receive.

Because, guess what? It is.

Seize the day. There will be tragedy, but also triumph. There will be sadness, but also great joy. And really, experiencing the former allows you to recognize and cherish the latter. Sadness and tragedy make joy and triumph all that much sweeter.

Life is for living and laughing and loving. Work hard. Do what’s right. Live with no regrets.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

New Interview at Fiona McVie's Blog!

I'm pleased and ecstatic to announce my latest interview is now live!
Check out Fiona McVie's blog here to read in its entirety:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wednesday's Words for April 6, 2016

Mother Nature is definitely menopausal. All you have to do is look around to know that. I don’t know if anyone’s keeping a journal, but it seems to me that there have not been too many days in the last two years when violent weather of one kind or another wasn’t striking somewhere in the United States. Each night we watch one of the U. S. national newscasts, and each night we shake our heads and try to make sense out of the constant pounding y’all are taking down there. The same system that is spewing snow and ice in one part of the country is also generating record rainfall and gale force winds in another. High winds, hail and even snowfalls have become commonplace where they never have been before. It’s enough to make you want to curl into a ball and pull the covers over your head, isn’t it?

On this past Monday morning we woke up here to about 8 inches of snow. April snow is not unheard of here in southern Ontario. Heck, we’ve had snow in May in past years, and I know that. I remember that. And really, with the wacky and somewhat wimpy winter we’ve had this year, I guess we should have expected it. I’m not complaining, though, because so many others have had it so much worse over the last several months. My part of the so-called frozen north has been downright temperate in comparison to areas that generally truly are temperate. But hell—I had to put the ice claw back on my cane, which makes the cane heavy.

Personally, I don’t understand how anyone can doubt the science of climate change.

Everything seems to be different from a decade or so ago. Not just our weather, but our technology, and our political landscape have all changed. Reality has changed and the result of all these changes is that our illusion of safety has been ripped away from us. Yes, I said illusion, because life has always been fragile and uncertain, but being the kind of creatures we are, we manage to find ways to fool ourselves that it’s not. We create routines and patterns in our lives, so that they become our way of life, and for the most part we skip along blissfully unaware of the turmoil that lives just blocks away from us.

We’re moles who find nice little hidey-holes to hide in. That is, until someone comes along with a big excavator, changes our scenery—and then we have to scramble to find new holes to hide in all over again. That takes time and energy and in the interim, we shiver and shake with our insecurity.

Because of the uncertainty that plagues us during these times especially, we need some things in our lives that are constant and don’t change. We need anchors in our lives, something to hold onto, something to ground us while we have our faces turned into the storm—or maybe our backs braced against it.

For me, the one thing I cling to are my relationships with other people. My family comes first in this regard, followed by my friends. I’m going to stand center stage here and tell y’all that it’s always been so, and I’ve always been aware, that my friendships often are far more important to me than they are to the people I am in those friendships with. That doesn’t bother me overly much, because we’re all different, with different priorities and different ways of seeing the world. People matter to me very much, likely because I was so young when I lost my dad.

I’ve been chided by my family for putting too much faith in other people, and told, in fact, that doing so will only lead to disappointment and heartache. And I have been reminded of this by them especially when, as should be expected, from time to time those friends I’ve been invested in have let me down—or unexpectedly simply walked out of my life.

My family members are not being mean to me when they say this, they just wish to protect me from getting my feelings hurt over and over again. I appreciate that, but what they don’t quite get is that the value to me in these relationships is not what I get from them.

It’s what I give to them that defines and grounds me.