Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sin cranks up the passion in 'Undeniable'

Indigo Sin
At first glance, Sin's unlikely hero Trent seems like a guy who has been down on his luck a little too long. You've seen the signs before: Head held low. Grumpy. Rough around the edges. Distant from the world . . . but when his life takes a turn down that oh-so-familiar road of disappointment . . . frustration and indifference and the alternative kick him into gear. He either plays with the same deck of cards the universe has dealt or he takes a chance on the unexpected. Undeniable is a solid trek about a guy who just didn't care to make the right choices early and often enough, until he cannot turn away from the one thing that will ultimately save him. And that's where the story finds its pulse. Trent fights back with all the strength and will to live he can muster. Serving time in prison has apparently taught him something valuable. Question is: Would you agree with him? Is prison merely a place where people stew in their mistakes or is it a gym that can mold some men into something greater, something secure, something undeniable? Can the gentleman be reborn?

1. Before you tell us about your book, why don’t you share a little bit about yourself.
I write erotic romance for Horny Devil Publishing, and as of right now, I have eight stories published.  I live on a farm in the Midwest with my husband and three kids, and I love it!  I’ve been writing for about three years, mostly in the realm of contemporary erotic romance.

2. Outside of writing, what sort of activities do you enjoy?
I make beaded jewelry, I crochet, I LOVE to read, and I have a serious addiction to browsing Pinterest.

3. Do you have a favorite food, snack, and/or beverage?
Pepsi would be my favorite beverage (of the non-alcoholic variety), and I could probably eat Chinese food until I exploded. So bad for me, but so darn good!

4. Authors draw from a wide variety of experiences, from their own lives as well as the lives of others. Which is the richest source for you?
Hmm, I would have to say that some of my writing stems from my own life, but mostly I get ideas and inspiration from everyday things.  Things I see on TV, things I see while out and about, and photos that I happen to come across.  It usually just takes something small to trigger an idea.

5. Of the stories you have written so far, which is your favorite and why?
Well, if you mean ones I’ve already published, I’d have to say Undeniable, my most recent release.  Trent and Hazel are so wonderful together, and the romance is beautiful.  Otherwise, my current WIP is probably my best work yet.  I can’t wait to finish that one to submit it.  I find that I improve with every story I write.

6. Embarrassing moment. Do you have one? Or better yet, are you sure you want to put it out there?
Ugh…on the way back to town from a dance in Junior High, I suddenly felt ill, and threw up on the bus.  Imagine a buss full of Junior High students going, “Eww, who puked!?!”  And you’re the culprit.  So freaking embarrassing.

7. What genres do you write for? Are there any that you haven’t that you would like to explore?
I write contemporary erotic romance mostly.  I would love to be able to write paranormal or fantasy, but for some reason my brain refuses to cooperate and assist me with writing it.  I have no idea why, but I’m terrible at paranormal.

8. What advice would you give new authors?
Stay strong, learn how to grow a thick skin, and keep writing.  Not everyone is going to like what you write, and not everyone will enjoy everything you put out there.  Remember to write for yourself as well.  As long as you’re proud of what you do, you’re already ahead of the game.

9. Now that we’ve had a chance to get to know you, tell us about the latest story you have out now?
My latest story is called UNDENIABLE, a contemporary erotic romance starring Trent Carpenter and Hazel Penske.  Trent has a past, as many of us do, but he’s not what everyone thinks he is.  There are reasons for what he did, and when he comes face to face with the woman he thought he would never see again…he has some difficult decisions to make.
Trent Carpenter is on the verge of giving up, after a series of consequences ruins the bright future he once had.

After being transferred to a new location for work, Hazel Penske thinks it will just be another routine stay until a ghost from the past appears, complicating everything.

In a maelstrom of passion, they must overcome wrongs and make amends if they want to grasp any semblance of a future together. Secrets will be revealed, but can they handle the truth?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Daddy, they're called tö-mangos

It never ceases to amaze me how children use the sounds and words in their library to express an idea or a word they cannot quite yet pronounce. Psychologists and therapists have a phrase for this. I couldn't tell you what that is right now because I'm too busy enjoying the smile on my face.

I can't help it.

If you've ever had kids you know what this feels like. You remember with perfect clarity the words your kids said to convey something they couldn't say. All kids do this.

For the life of her, my four-year-old daughter just can't pronounce the word "flamingo."

She says, tö-mango.

The first time I heard it I didn't understand what she was saying, but the conviction in her locked knees and in her scrunched up face told me that I had better understand what she was saying and fast, or else. Tö-mangos are serious business. And they are not to be trifled with.

"Daddy . . ."

"They are pink!

"They are pretty!

"They can stand on one leg!

"And, they are pink!

"And they have feathers just like birds.

"Is a tö-mango a bird?"

She explained all the things a tö-mango can do. She even stood on one foot to illustrate her point, in case I hadn't ever seen one before. Mind you, we had just gotten back from one of our weekly trips to SeaWorld. She spent about ten minutes watching them, studying them, wondering why they were pink, because some of them were not and their feathers were still very dark. She couldn't stop talking about tö-mangos.

I couldn't understand what she was talking about. I asked her to repeat the word over and over.

Sometimes being a parent sucks.

It occurred to me at that moment that I might have to ask my oldest daughter to check my status with the Wizarding World because for a brief second I felt like a muggle, dull, unimaginative, and unable to decode the simplest, most beautiful word my daughter could say in place of flamingos. I felt like such a dope.

She looked at me with her four-year-old eyes and with all the seriousness and belief in her heart she summoned the sass to say: Daddy, you know. You've seen them. TÖ-MANG-GOES. They're big pink birds!

I looked to my wife hoping she could decode. She was even more lost than I was.

Tö-mango, I repeated in my head. Tö-mango. Tö-mango.

My three-year-old son popped up from the couch and shouted from the headrest, "Tow Mater."

"Not Cars!" my daughter shouted.

He leaped into a round of Tow Mater. Singing and laughing and singing some more. "Tow Mater. Tow Mater. Tow Mater. Tooooo Mater!" My son's favorite Disney character is Mater from Cars. Not that that needed clarification. But, you know, just in case I lost you.

I was in stitches but I couldn't laugh out loud for fear that I might upset my daughter. Tö-mangos are serious business!

"Tö-mango," my daughter said, annoyed with her little brother. "Pink birds, daddy—"

And then the light went on. I had an Edison Moment. Flamingo! "Oh, you were saying flamingo."

She nodded her head, relieved, grinning so brightly that I could count every baby tooth of hers.

And then, I asked her if she knew why flamingos were pink.

She shook her head. "No . . . Why are they pink, daddy?"

"Because they like to eat shrimp."

And then her eyes went wide. Wider than you can possibly imagine. Wider still. Behind those bright beautiful eyes I saw awe. I saw adventure. I saw the plate of shrimps she had eaten the night before, reappear in her mind. I saw her count them with her eyes. She was elated.

She loves to eat shrimp. Can't eat enough of the shelly crustaceans.

"Tö-mangoes like shrimp, like me?"

"Yup. Just like you."

She turned it on me, and asked, "How many shrimps do they need to turn pink?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. How many do you think it takes?"

"100!" she exclaimed.

That was good enough for me.

"Will I turn pink too," she asked, "if I ate that many shrimps?"

But she never gave me a chance to answer her. She skipped off and ran over to her mom to tell her that tö-mangoes eat shrimp. "Just like me!"

"Can we have shrimp for dinner? Please. But not the crunchy ones. Those are gross! And not the spicy ones. Those are hot! I like shrimp. Just shrimp."

I found a flamingo feather the other day. I gave it to her. It's sitting in a special place, right next to her Harry Potter wand, a curled up twig we found on one of our walks, right next to her books were her imagination sleeps until it flies off again.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Reeve spins dark, offbeat tale in 'Reaper'

T.L. Reeve
Striking a deal with the devil so you can atone for the mistakes of someone else can and will lead to dire consequences, for you and most likely the people around you. Don't believe me? Ask author T.L. Reeve. She's published a story, Reaper's Mercy, that wrestles with this very dilemma. How far would you go to save your father from eternal damnation? Not far? Not far enough? Too far? Before she answers any of those chilling questions, I've asked her a few questions of my own. So, pull up a chair, adjust your screen brightness, and have a read. You might just learn a thing or two on how to avoid gambling away your immortal soul . . . to that guy with the brimstone breath.

1. Before you tell us about your book, why don’t you share a little bit about yourself.
Well, I am a single mom of a beautiful little girl. I was born and raised in sunny SoCal and spent most of my time on the beach. Didn’t matter if it was hot or cold. I also like to work on muscle cars. Nothing like getting greased up while you’re elbow deep in a big block engine.

2. Outside of writing, what sort of activities do you enjoy?
I like camping and fishing. I read and draw some. I’m not very good with the drawing thing, but I do enjoy it. I like to get outside, I don’t care where I go, but I just have to get away.

3. Do you have a favorite food, snack, and/or beverage?
Coke and corn chips or pretzels, that’s it.

4. Authors draw from a wide variety of experiences, from their own lives as well as the lives of others. Which is the richest source for you?
I think I pull tons of stuff from my life, but I also listen to others. The stories that people can tell you about their lives, especially older people, is just so rich and ripe with information and knowledge.

5. Of the stories you have written so far, which is your favorite and why?
Reaper’s Mercy. I believe that I stepped so far out of my box writing this one, that I’m so proud of myself. The characters are different and story just builds upon itself until the final scene. When you’re done, you can’t believe you read it all. I’m not giving anything away LOL!

6. Embarrassing moment. Do you have one? Or better yet, are you sure you want to put it out there?
I do. I don’t mind sharing either. It’s been 20 years since it happened. In high school I was in drama. We did a Christmas pageant and I played a few characters in it, plus I was also in band. Once we were done with the music part of the production, I had to change out of my uniform and into my costume. I had 3 mins. I needed more time. It takes longer than that to get dressed, trust me. A band uniform is the most difficult suit you’ll even attempt to wear. Anyway, I went out on stage sans shoes since I didn’t have time to change fully. When the music started and we had to dance, yours truly slipped on the highly glossed stage. Oh yes people, I face planted. Full on went for it. If they would have scored it, it would have been a 10. For the rest of the year, I wasn’t TL, I was the kid who fell on stage. Ah, high school, how I don’t miss you. LOL!

7. What genres do you write for? Are there any that you haven’t that you would like to explore?
Better question, which one don’t I write in. I like being diverse and able to adapt to any situation. The genres I’d like to work in are post-apocalyptic, (I love Resident Evil, and zombies. I love the thought of a government super bug wiping out the human race type books), and westerns. I can’t write a western to save my life.

8. What advice would you give new authors?
Keep writing and ask questions. Listen to your editor, don’t fight with them, they’re trying to help you out. If you’re not sure of something, go to someone in the company, your EIC, anyone and ask questions. There are no stupid questions, only those not asked.

9. Now that we’ve had a chance to get to know you, tell us about the latest story you have out now?
Reaper’s Mercy. The story is about Alastair and Kimber. Kimber is just your ordinary Joe trying to make it in the world. His father has disowned him and he’s okay with that. He rather enjoys it, really. But even when things are crappy, they can get worse, and that’s where Alastair comes in. He’s a reaper. Kimber’s father broke a contract with the devil and it is Kimber’s soul Alastair is after. However, Kimber has been given 72hr to prove his father is hell bent on seeing him die. The only hitch, Death has to stay with Kimber. (Not going to spoil it, you’ll need to read the book.)

Death was at the door for me. I knew it. His shadowy, ominous figure cast long shadows against my front door with each burst of lightning from overhead. I cowered; sliding down the door as lightning flashed again, and thunder clapped mere seconds afterward. My number was up. The sands of time had spent right down to the last grain, and I wasn’t ready.  Glancing up at the clock on the wall facing the fireplace, I noted the time. Twelve forty-seven. I burned it into my memory.

Watching the second hand strike each second it passed, I shook with fear, petrified by what would happen next. The only chance I had was to answer the door, embrace death, and go on to the hereafter or wherever the hell we go when we die. But I didn’t want to. I hadn’t lived yet. I-I-I hadn’t met the person I was supposed to fall in love with. I hadn’t done anything special with my life. So, why was Death standing on my stoop with rain falling around him while the raging storm grew angrier by the second? It made no sense. Momentary confusion swamped my brain. None of this made any sense whatsoever. I was panicking. I knew that instinctively, yet I couldn’t muster the care to worry about what I must have looked like at the moment. Quite frankly, it didn’t matter either. I was deader than a doornail. Pushing up daisies. Tiptoeing through the tulips.

Visit T.L. Reeve at her website: http://authortlreeve.wix.com/tlreeve
Follow T.L. Reeve on Twitter www.twitter.com/tl_reeve
Like T.L. Reeve on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/reeve.tl

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Never a shortage of sass

Around here, we never have a shortage of sass.

The twenty-foot sass-o-meter that doubles as a load-bearing beam might as well be measuring the oxygen levels in the air. At least that way if we ever found a way to bottle it at the source our sass might be useful someday . . . oh, let's say, to a handful of electric engineers who figured out how to turn laughter into electricity á la Monster's Inc. or in the form of concentrate, dehydrated into powder, we capsuled, bottled, and then sold over the counter.

(Taps chin . . . hmmm, not a bad idea actually . . . )

Between the teenager—she's had a quick mind as far back as I can remember—and my four-year-old daughter and my three-year-old son, not a thirty-second goes by that not one of them is snapping back a deft snark, or wry retort, or my favorite: outright defiance.

Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I snicker. And, then, sometimes I just want to throttle them . . . but what's the point? I'm not one to teach my kids to be quiet. And certainly I don't want them preferring rude behavior to civilized discourse, but a little self-worth this early goes a long way later to standing up for what's important in life.

We're raising some smart kids. Of course they are. Name me a kid who isn't smart. I'm not saying my kids are smart because they're my kids. This isn't some sort of parental blinder. Point of fact, not one of my kids is biologically mine. Not one of them carries 25 percent of my genes. Cool, huh?

Turns out my boys have . . . what's the technical term? . . . bent propellers? Eh, could be worse.

The oldest of my three kids is my stepdaughter, my wife's daughter. The younger two were adopted. We know the family. We've become very close since the adoptions. We see them as often as we can, and over the past five years we've started to pick up on the similarities the siblings share.

Truth is, all kids are smart.

And some of them have very quick mouths, including my wife's daughter.

On our way to SeaWorld last week, she and my wife were catching up with each other. It's not often they get to do that, now that my wife's schedule has become increasingly more organized and filled with work, school, assignments, and personal time (whenever she can squeeze that in!).

During this back and forth conversation my wife asked her daughter to please hand her the drink in the cup holder. I don't remember what it was. It could have been Mountain Dew, or it could have been coffee, or it could have been Fiji water, or it could have been something else. My wife took a sip and had an immediate reaction.

She tasted hair.

We exclaimed: Gross!

To which the teenager promptly added, "You know, family members are five times more likely to ingest hair from each other than from friends or acquaintances."

Now, I have to tell you she has these kinds of facts at her finger tips. They didn't stop with that one.

She went on to say "It's also 3 times more likely that the hair you're ingesting is not facial hair." For the sake of your appetite I won't disclose what kind of hair. I'm still cringing.

This factoid was followed with, "The average person ingests 13 pieces of hair that is not their own every year." Okay, I have to tell you by now I'm feeling queasy. I'm driving bee-tee-dub.

My wife is going through the 20 Shades of Green now. If that wasn't enough, her daughter says, "So, the next time you guys have, ahem, you know—"

"No! We don't need you to tell us!"


Sassy. Witty. Sneaky little . . . funny ass people.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chore Day is a beast

There comes a time in every domestic dad's tenure that he realizes he is ill-equipped for the day. Not the work day. Not your average week day. Chore Day. The day that every parent dreads, but most especially dads. I won't even pretend to say that I like Chore Day. That's the day, usually a Saturday, when all the chores that couldn't get done during the week get done.

Chore Day is a beast.

It's the day I realize that I don't have sufficient cleaning supplies to get the chores completed on schedule. It's why I pushed the chores to begin with. It's why I dread that day. It's precisely why I avoid Chore Day—

Unless of course I'm going to play a background movie to keep my sanity. Background movie? Simple. I'll tell you. It's a movie I've seen many, many times over, such as Star Wars: A New Hope, or Die Hard, or Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, or Marvel's The Avengers, or The Lord of the Rings (which by the way is a good indicator for how much time it takes to clean the kid's room, because if the room is in an epic state of mess then I'll have earned that glass of merlot).

A background movie does not require me to engage with it. It's not Schindler's List. It's not The Pianist. It's not Inception. It's not freakin' Gone With The Wind. It's easy. Something I can quip with. Something I can listen to without getting distracted. It's . . . in the background. It's a no brainer. I'm sure you deciphered my code word by then, but it gave me a chance to let you into the mind of a Zany Adventurous Domestic Dad!

Chore Day begins with an easy breakfast. By easy, I mean that the breakfast requires the least amount of cookware and dishes. In other words, scrambled eggs and potatoes. Eggs get cracked. Milk gets stirred into the mix. Potatoes are chopped or cubed. Never shredded. Hash browns are messy.

This day is also the day the kids grumble about most. They don't get to pick something from the breakfast menu. Now, I'm not saying I'll cook whatever they want, however they want. This isn't Burger King. They don't get to have it their way. And this isn't a Five-Star hotel. I'm not going to deliver a cart upon which are platters of breakfast foods, like eggs, pancakes, french toast, croissants, and fresh fruit, neatly wrapped and covered along with polished silverware nestled around coffee, juice or milk.

This breakfast is intended to be cooked and served fast. Naturally, the potatoes will take the longest, but I've got a system down. Preheated oil cooks those chopped spuds well.

As I grab ingredients from the refrigerator, I plan ahead for lunch or dinner. By this time I've already taken a survey of the house. I know which rooms will need attention, and which rooms will require the most manpower.

If we have hot dogs in the refrigerator then lunch will be an easy fix. If we don't, then my next stop is the freezer for chicken. Takes a good hour or two to thaw chicken. If I time that well I can tack on an extra hour or two to the chore schedule, which usually means an extra load of laundry because once the chicken thaws I can switch the clothes out of the washer to the dryer. That 45-minute timer is almost exactly the amount of time I need to make mushroom chicken over rice with two sides of veggies.

While everyone is eating, that load of laundry comes out and gets hung. I never fold in the laundry room. A complete waste of time. If the fabric softener hasn't done its job there's very little that I can do to move that along.

Plus, and perhaps most importantly, when the kids are eating that means they're not screaming at each other. Lunch is a few minutes of bliss. Oh, don't get me wrong. And don't be fooled by the power of chicken over rice. Kids that want to get their way will do just about anything to make their case, even scream. But with a forkful of mushroom sauce and rice it can be difficult, especially when I threaten quiet or no Treat Drink. Treat Drink is non-alcoholic Sangria brewed and bottled by Peñafiel. If you've ever had a glass of the bubbly you'll know what I'm talking about. It's usually located in the soda aisle, near the Henry Weinhard's brand of soda drinks.

By mid afternoon I usually have a handle on Stage One of Chore Day. Stage One consists of the kitchen, the living room, the hallway and the bathroom. Stage Two is where the real fun begins. The kid's room.

I leave it last because sometimes the kids are willing to help pick up their mess, especially if I've enticed them with Treat Drink. Right about now parents are either saying to themselves, bribery works magic, or you're in for it, dad. Giving a kid a cup of liquid sugar is a one-way ticket to a late night sleeping schedule. And they would be right, except with Treat Drink pulsing in their system they're running around, playing all sorts of games, including my favorite, Might Morphin' Power Rangers, in which I get cast as the villain. And since I'm cleaning the house, you can bet your sweet rangers that I make a game out of cleaning up the Ranger's hideout.

At this point I've lost control of the television. My wife has taken it over and has started watching any number of shows, starting with Discovery Channel or Lifetime, whichever she's in the mood for. I really don't care. She works hard. She's up at 7:00 a.m. four days a week, and for the latter part of the work week, beginning on Tuesday afternoon she's nonstop until Thursday night. She's home from school about 11 p.m. And if she's feeling up for it she'll take the teenager to school Friday morning. The teenager, she, will undoubtedly start her negotiating strategy the day before, reminding her mom that she's had to walk to and from school the entire week, and that it would be nice if she could just get dropped off.

This usually works. Although lately not so much.

My wife is getting more responsibilities at her internship site. Her supervisor really likes her, and so do a number of clients the site serves. So, the last thing I'm going to do is commandeer the television.

On a swift heel spin I dart across the room, check every corner of the house one last time, and with a smile that's been brewing since the early morning, I finally drop down into the couch. Two seconds later, the kids are up my ears, wanting this and needing that. I've got about a ten-second recharge in my batteries and then I'm off again, on another zany adventure with my kids as they tug me into their room asking me to play back any one of Disney's or Pixar's films. Toy Story 3 as well as Tangled are among the kids favorites. If they're in the mood, it's Jurassic Park.

Now we're talking!